Back for More Arizona - Winter 2014 travel blog

park entrance

cactus forest


distant mountains

expansion joint

new arm


saguaro skeleton

food truck

This area is the northern edge of the Sonoran desert which extends south into Mexico. When we were here last winter, we endured some unusually cold nights with temperatures in the 15º - 17º range. People fretted whether the cactus could survive and covered the plants in their yards with dixie cups on the growing tips and blankets over the trunks. We are happy to report that the desert looks just as lush and green as we remember it from last year. Every time we drive out of the campground gate we face a hill covered with a saguaro forest.

Although we can see the saguaro all around, we visited the west end of Saguaro National Park to do a little hiking and find out what programs the naturalists are offering. The national parks are suffering from budget cuts, but here the parks are well staffed with volunteers. Many are people like us, refugees from the freezing north that have fallen in love with the unique flora here.

Saguaro (pronounced sa-war-o) are unique plants. They bloom for 24 hours and birds and bees pollinate them during this brief time period. Birds eat the seeds, but they are undigestible and the birds end up replanting them wherever they happen to be when they are eliminated. The saguaro remain healthy as long as they have two good rains annually. During the rainy season their accordion-like folds expand to increase their moisture storage capacity and during the 100º+ summer, they shrink again. A saguaro grows about 75 years before it starts growing arms; those that are growing well have many arms.

As we repeated some of the same routes we took last year, I remembered a particularly distinctive saguaro that had arms curving down. This must be a sign of impending doom, because we found the same plant collapsed next to the path. We took so many desert photos last year, it seemed silly to take more, but I couldn't resist.

We got home at dinner time and I didn't have to cook! The campground is visited by food trucks periodically and the Bubba-que truck was here today. I loved the name. It seems like food trucks have a trendy mystique today. Some reviews I read make me feel that if you buy the food from a rolling vehicle, it ha to be better than the same item served in a restaurant. The Bubba-que truck pulled a smoker and prepared the meat as we have come to love in Texas. The Zany Beaver truck is coming in a few days. Wonder what it serves??

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