Picture of phoenix 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.
Picture of capitol_2 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 the rest.
Picture of boojum '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.
Picture of dbgardens 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.
Picture of saguaros 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.
Picture of storm_cactus 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.)
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Picture of javalina_3 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.
Picture of saguaro_hill 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.
Picture of rainbows 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 entire specatcle.
Picture of saguaronp 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.
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