Our first stop in Arizona was naturally, downtown Phoenix. Why naturally? Well, mostly
because the airport is practically in the middle of downtown. And also because we had to
stop and take a picture of the capitol building.
Which incidentally, is not easy to take a picture of. Someone seems to have planted a
bunch of palm trees in front of it. That combined with its lack of stature and the large
office buildings surrounding it lead to this sort of image. You'll just have to extrapolate
'But if I ever meet with a Boojum, that day, In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away -- and the notion I cannot endure! '.
So says the 'Hunting of the Snark', but Melanie at least seems to have overcome
that, for this is a Boojum she stands next to. A rare tree found mostly in ridiculously
inhospitable and remote areas like the desert in northern Mexico, it actually was named
from the poem by an intrepid (and well-read) botanist. You can also find this one at the
Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix where on this particular day it was a balmy 113 degrees
Fahrenheit (45 C). Incidentally those people back there vanished softly and suddenly away
just after this picture was taken.
Here we see David elsewhere in the gardens. He has not vanished away because he has not
chosen to tempt the Boojum. Instead he has found some cholla cacti and a very odd looking
mountain in the background. Informational signs persist on calling it a 'butte' which
we feel very uffish about indeed.
Saguaros at a distance, how many can you find? We drove from Phoenix to Tucson which we
avoided for the time being in favor of the mountains just west of town. There you can find
Saguaros, Saguaros, and more Saguaros. We may have been under the impression that Saguaros were
rare. Actually, they only grow in a small section of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. However,
where they do grow, they do it well.
Here's your classic saguaro with upturned arms and woodpecker nest in the top. The large
approaching thunderstorm may not be normal. This is at the Sonora Desert Museum just outside
the gates of Saguaro National Park. It's a sort of zoo-museum-garden hybrid. Amazingly we
did not take any pictures of the river otters here because, well, they don't really belong in
the desert. We also didn't photograph the sleeping beaver, mostly because it wasn't making
lace in the bow. (If you're not getting any of these references you'd better go read the poem.)
These are not jubjubs, but they make a noise sort of like that. They don't really
have a symmetrical shape either. They are javalinas, the most ridiculous animals
yet to appear in the desert. They're related to peccaries (not pigs!) and they
spend most of their time grunting. In between grunts they occassionally have the
thought to lie down in some nearby mud, or maybe to eat another cactus as loudly
and messily as possible. We also saw a herd (or whatever the appropriate collective is)
in Sedona, where uniformed hotel staff members whizzing past in golf carts kept insisting
to us that they were potentially dangerous and we shouldn't get too close. Perhaps we
underestimated their natural leaping abilities, but probably not.
If you have to have a favorite saguaro (and you never know, you might) this would be mine.
Not only does it have the best view, it has a sort of Hindu deity look about it. Of course
it probably won't reign over the lesser saguaros for long, most of the hilltop variety we saw had
been fatally struck by lightning. This was off the desert loop road, a hilly dirt road where
our poor refined rental car got its first taste of what was in store for it.
The storm passed on, the lizards came back out, and the bandersnatch (if there was one) returned
home. Leaving us with a lovely double rainbow seen here. The saguaros were unfazed by the
We hunted until darkness came on. Actually, no, we returned to Tucson proper and had
a bit of buffalo for dinner. We had intended to sample some of Tucson's notoriously high
quality southwestern food but with the time change and all we were unusually tired and
thus we just went to bed.