Monday, February 29, 2016

Tucson Mountain Park

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
February 25, 2016

We have enjoyed some incredible weather the past few days...just perfect for hiking the Tucson Mountain Park.  The trails are close by and rarely do we ever see anyone else. John and Pam (, who will be heading north soon, have mastered these trails so what a treat to join them one more time.  The older section of the Tucson Mt. Park has miles of trails that intersect and NO signage unlike the new Robles Pass Section which is well marked. It's a good thing Google maps has all the details. 
John and Pam checking the trail directions...

With that said, Joe and I followed the leader, enjoyed John and Pam's company and were once again  awed by the surrounding beauty. 

Segments of jumping cholla cover the ground...
I love the way the sunlight adds a glow to these cholla (pronounced choy-a).  These are called Teddy Bear cholla because they resemble fuzzy arms and legs of a teddy bear.  But don't let the name fool you.  They might just be the most feared/respected cacti in the desert.  
This cholla is also referred to as a jumping cholla.  The segmented joints of this cholla separate from the plant when brushed up against.     

Another cholla we see often is the Chain-Fruit Cholla.

It can grow to about 15 feet tall making it the largest of the chollas.  New fruit is added to the fruit from previous seasons creating a chain.

And another familiar variety here is the 
Staghorn cholla with a very close cousin called the Buckhorn.  The main difference that I could find is that the Stag tends to have more of a purple tint.  Another significant difference is that the fruit of the Stag is fleshy and spineless and remains attached to the plant throughout the winter.
The fruit from last year is quite showy on the Staghorn Cholla.

 One last cholla worth mentioning is the Christmas Cholla.  The spines on this cholla are different as only one very long spine is produced by each areole instead of a cluster.
Small fruits are bright red and last through the winter, hence the name Christmas.

 According to DesertUSA ( there are more than 20 species of Cholla cactus in the North American Desert. 
There are many benefits from these amazing plants including providing homes and foods for wildlife. 
It looks like the saguaro will be blooming soon...
 ...and we saw a prickly pear growing in a saguaro.

 It was another great day in the desert with friends...

...and we were not the only ones enjoying the beautiful weather.  We saw a lizard... 
 ...and a Bull snake enjoying the warm sunshine too!
 Until next time...
happy days and happy trails!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Walk Through A Saguaro Forest

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
February 19, 2016

Joe and I have done quite a few desert hikes in the past few years. It was love at first sight when we arrived in Tucson back in January 2013 and I saw saguaro cacti for the first time up close and personal. The desert has since had a draw for us that some will understand and others can't figure out. 

The hike we did last Friday with John and Pam was one of the prettiest saguaro forests we have had the pleasure of hiking. Absolutely amazing how dense the forest is there...

We did a lollipop trail with the stick being a combination of switchbacks and an easy climb on the Camaro Loop Trail that connects to Boulder Belt Trail, the saddle section.  The lollipop/loop portion is the Flight Path Trail. 

Right from the get go, we saw colors that we didn't see the week before.  

Could it be that spring is not far away?

The Globe Mallow is just beginning to bloom...look at all those buds.

A hint of purple from the Wild Hyacinth is always nice... 

...along with the shades of pink from  from the Fairy Duster.  

The flowers on this low growing shrub attract hummingbirds and butterflies. 

And one more, the pale yellow of the Desert Rose Mallow. It's a delicate little flower on a weak stem so it usually grows up through other plants for support. 


One thing Pam and I totally agree on and enjoy when hiking in the desert are the all directions!

Feb. 19, 2016...crested #1
Just like our other hike with Pam and John, we knew we would be in for a treat because not 1, but 3 crested saguaro could be seen on this hike with all of them being right next to the trail.

 Sometimes a saguaro produces a fan-shaped form of growth at the tip. These growths are referred to as a cresting (or cristate) and are rare occurrences. 

crested #2

When you consider how slowly a saguaro grows (a 10 year old plant will be about 1.5 inches tall) the crested ones we have seen must be many years old.  

crested #3

A crested sighting is special and sought after by many.   

We have another hike planned with John and Pam so stay tuned for our next adventure. 

Until then, let the good times roll...

and happy trails!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Life is Good!

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
February 18, 2016

Life is good! If you don't believe me, just ask any one of our three pups. Food, water, toys, a blankie and some cuddling goes along way with them! 

Early mornings
and late afternoons have been so nice for sitting on the patio.  Puppies love their ex-pen and freedom to play. 

As for us, life just couldn't be better. Joe had his year and half check-up.  The PET shows NO cancer and we are good to go for another six months...yippee! 

Just like our other stays here in Tucson, I have enjoyed the birds at our feeders. 

The hummingbirds continue to zoom in and out, fuss and consume lots of food. 

 The verdins also continue to entertain.  These cute little birds make me chuckle...the real "angry birds". 

A new partaker to the orange feeder this year is a Gila Woodpecker. He is a regular visitor every morning around 8:30 and again about 4:30.   

He is a medium to large size woodpecker (about 9.4 inches) and a bit tall for the feeder.  It is amazing how he compensates for his size by ducking his head down as he tucks  his tail feathers under the feeder to use them as a counter balance and clamp.  A real balancing act...

I have photographed these beautiful birds in and on saguaro cacti, but never in my backyard.  I read on that the Gila is the only woodpecker in it's range with the black and white of the gorgeous patterns of nature. 

It's a good thing the feeders hang on an orange tree. There are a few oranges left at the top of the tree which I expect to be bare by the time we leave.

I have noticed new leaves and blooms about to open on the same tree.  

Up next, a walk through a saguaro forest with friends...

Until then, happy days and happy trails!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Town too Tough to Die

Tucson/Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
February 12, 2016

Last Friday, Joe and I rode over to Tombstone with Lynn and Dave.  We had never been and I know it sounds cheesy, but I really wanted to see a gunfight and eat at Big Nose Kate's.

Tombstone was founded in 1877 when silver was discovered. It wasn't long before cowboys, prospectors, homesteaders and gunmen filled the streets, saloons, and brothels. 

In it's early history, Tombstone survived two devastating fires. But the "town too tough to die" rebuilt and grew. It is fun to think about the legends, like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, who walked the streets there and gave this mining town it's storied history. Today, I read that Tombstone is home to only about 1500 year round residents who believe in preserving the history and heritage of "The Wildest Town in the West".

We did see a gunfight. It wasn't at all what I thought it would be.  Instead it was an outdoor theater company.  Quite comical and well done, it had everything...including
the bad guys,

the bad guy who was double-crossed and shot,

the drunken town sheriff, 

and my favorite, the crazy prospector.

There are lots of lunch choices in Tombstone, but for the four of us, there wasn't even a discussion. We were headed to Big Nose Kate's. 

So who was Big Nose Kate? She was believed to have been the first "lady of the evening" in Tombstone. But her biggest claim to fame was the fact that she was also Doc Holliday's girlfriend.  

BNK's saloon is a lively, colorful and yummy place to grab a cold brew and a burger...we all sure enjoyed it!

What a fun day with good friends! 

Until next time, happy trails!