I was going to write that title in Middle English á la Chaucer, but it looked funny.
To kick off my summer, this past weekend I went back to Tucson to see Certain Someone (CS). We drove up to the top of Mount Lemmon. Usually this time of year Tucson starts getting pretty toasty. It’s a dry heat, yes, but still damn hot. Up around 8000 feet above sea level, there’s a big difference.
Yes, Arizona has mountains. They are kind of pointy. They’re not high enough to have a lot of snow, like the Rockies, which I flew over on the way home. Pretty!
Because they have been shaped by erosion, there is a lot of this going on:
And when you get to the top you’re in Summerhaven, a tiny, unincorporated town with…well, nothing. But it sure is pretty. When you brave the winding mountain roads, you’re rewarded with this:
There’s a lot of dust in Arizona, and it likes to fly around in the wind. If you drive south and west of Tucson over more pointy mountains, you’ll come to Old Tucson and the Desert Museum. You can walk around outside and look at plants and a few animals, and some neat exhibits in the buildings. I got a great long-distance view of some dust storms from there:
In the desert live many different animals like this burrowing owl. A ground dweller, the owl eats insects and small rodents and is active during the day. He likes to hunt mostly at dusk and dawn, when it’s cooler. Who could blame him?
Javelinas (say hav-eh-LEE-nuhs), closely related to peccaries (a kind of wild pig relative), also hang out here. The museum has a few and apparently they know what to do with a 98-degree afternoon.
Cacti are everywhere in Arizona. The common prickly pear can be seen all over Tucson, and it comes in more than just green.
The saguaro (say SWAH-ro) is the most famous cactus of all. If you drive into Arizona from California, you will begin to see them dot the landscape, like alien sentinel scouts:
Then they thicken and approach:
And as the second wave crests and recedes, you pass into New Mexico, where they disappear altogether.
They have a flower on top that blooms in May and June. Elf owls like to live inside them. If you see a rather large hole in the body of the cactus, chances are some sort of bird has made a home there.
Driving around Tucson, we passed the famous No-Tel Motel. Yes, it exists! Look here for a fascinating (and squeamish) Tucson Weekly account of Saxon Burns’ attempt to stay there for a week.
I leave you with this cool horse sculpture from the Desert Museum. There’s a lot to see and do in Tucson, so if you’re passing by that way and get a chance, check out some of the nature there. The desert isn’t all scrub and scorpions. (For the record, I haven’t seen one of those yet.)