Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Wildflowers and Water

Corona de Tucson

September 2, 2022

Last Saturday morning, we were up early and out the door with coffee in hand.  Our week-end adventure had us heading towards Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains.  It is another one of those favorite places to spend a couple of hours no matter what the season is.  This visit was to hike along Madera Creek...hoping for the sound of running water and wildflowers. Our timing was perfect.  There was more water in the creek than we have ever seen.


And oh the wildflowers...every color of the rainbow.

The ground cover was thick, but we found lots of busy insects.

I was happy for the trees. They have enjoyed all the rain as well.  The Alligator Junipers were full of berries...

Did you know that these berries are edible and can be consumed raw or steamed?  

the oak trees were loaded down with acorns...

Acorns contain large amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats as well as calcium and potassium.

and the Western Soapberry trees were packed with clusters of berries.

Often called Indian Soap Plant, these berries give off a lather when mixed with water and Native Americans used them for soap.   Don't eat these berries...they are poisonous.

On some parts of the trail, we waded thru tall grass...

and in other places we anticipated what was just around curve.

It was a wonderful morning...simple and beautiful !  

For about a mile before reaching the entrance to Madera Canyon, the road was lined with bushes that had showy pink/white blooms.  

We had to stop...

Saturday night was date night...that makes two this month.  It was the last in the series of Sunset Saturday outdoor concerts at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  

This concert featured a local Indie Rock Band who call themselves Daytrails.  There were four of them...(base guitar, rhythm guitar and singer, lead guitar, and the drummer who also sang)...inspired by a healthy blend of modern rock and the desert landscape.  They performed a variety of original and cover songs.  

There was a nice breeze, Sonoran dogs, toe tapping and head bobbing, and lots of smiles.  

This week is definitely a reminder that summer is not over with highs in the upper 90s, lows in the low 70s, no rain and lots of wind.  The cool temps we have enjoyed for awhile won't return until mid week next week...fingers crossed.  

This mornings sunrise had no clouds at the oasis.   

 Hope you have a great rest of the week.  Until next time,


Saturday, August 27, 2022

It's Green

Corona de Tucson

August 27, 2022 

Sunday morning dawned with overcast skies...not quite so dark as Saturdays, but still not much sunshine.  It wasn't until about 4:00 pm that I realized there was lots of blue.  

This weeks weather looked good with sunny days and stray afternoon showers...perfect for a Monday morning hike.   We were up at 5:15 am and out the door at 6:00.  We watched the sunrise as we headed east for about 18 miles to Saguaro NP.

There are lots of hikes we enjoy there, but the Cactus Forest Trail is my favorite.  Last year at this time we were in the midst of home projects and when I looked back at the blog, we never even went to the desert during monsoon season...shame on us and as long as we are able, that will not happen again !  What a beautiful this the desert?

The saguaros say "YES" as they only grow here.  The trail looks completely different from every other time we have hiked much green !  My heart was happy and there was a definite extra bounce in my feet.   Did I mention the barrel cacti are blooming?  The sun was shining just right to spot this beauty as we rounded a curve.


And the sun was in just the right spot to catch the morning glow. 

And the gorgeous blue sky made the perfect backdrop for shades of yellow, orange and green.

We could see the barrels blooming even if they were hiding.  Can you see it?

There it is !

There were lots of wildflowers blooming too.

In the distance, the Rincon Mountains were peaking out from the clouds making it hard to decide where to focus.

Unfortunately, with all the rain comes all the insects.  No biting mosquitoes (thank goodness), but the gnats (not the biting kind...thank goodness) were horrible.  Shame on us for not having bug spray in the jeep (lesson learned !).  We got a little more than a mile into the trail and decided to turn around and go back another day.  

Mid week it was back to the dermatologist for Joe to have surgery on his left arm.  Stitches come out September 8th.  No more appointments for skin checks until early October as Joe has to go every 3 months. Yippee !!!  Fingers (and toes) crossed...NO more MOHs surgeries for Joe. 

Friday was an errand day.  I read there was a museum in town close to where we would be...Ignite Sign Art Museum...that sounded fun and different.  

Judd Cook, owner of Cook & Co Signmakers opened his museum in 2018. Judd's first sign was a Coca-Cola sign given to him when he was an apprentice in 1977.  In the  40 years that followed, he collected many signs and received many signs as gifts.  

It was fun perusing the displays and reading the history of signs...businesses in Tucson, beer advertisements, soft drinks, etc..  There are several interactive displays as well. 

The Canyon State Motel was built in 1951 in downtown Tucson.  Forty years later the historic sign advertising this motel was cut down.  In 2010, the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation rescued the sign and contracted Cook & Co Signmakers to restore it.  Today, this piece of historical Tucson art is installed on the downtown campus of Pima Community College.  The entrance arrow on the sign 71 year old sign advertises "Panel Ray Heat" evidence of an earlier time when heating and cooling were not taken for granted.  To date, there are 30 such historical, restored signs in Tucson and a map of their locations can be found on google.   

This is a small replica...ten men manually lifted the original sign (which was in a field behind a tractor in the back of the building) and placed it on a trailer. 

Recognize any of these?

You might already know that many of the early inventors of soft drinks came from the medical community.

My favorite soft drink, Orange Crush, was invented in 1911.

Arby's was founded in 1964 because the brothers who founded it felt there was a need for fast food other than hamburgers. Arby's established their brand identity through a unique red cowboy hat logo which reflects the Wild West nature of the food.  The first sign was in neon with surrounding light bulbs like this 18' sign below.  

These signs are coming down all across the country and being replaced by smaller plastic signs.

So, back at the oasis, it has been a quiet and restful week.    Just the way we like it.  We walked every morning except Thursday.  We usually see more of the Santa Rita Mountains, but the grass is too tall these days. 

Our patio rocking chairs have had a great workout as well.  Joe and I enjoy a cup of coffee while the pups enjoy their breakfast outside, then we usually have our morning meal there as well while the birds enjoy a few snippets.  

There have been five of these young cactus wrens running around the yard all week. They make me laugh out loud ! 


On Sunday morning, a very hungry flicker came to visit.  It's the first time a flicker has actually visited for more than a couple of minutes.  She stayed for a good 15 minutes enjoying the seed under the red dome...

the birdbath... 

tried the other feeder...

but quickly returned to the one under the red dome.

I sure enjoyed her company.  

Kissing cousins...

And a return of the infamous photobomber  (Remember the photo of the hummingbird with the Great Horned Owl?).

Yesterday (7/26) was National Doggie Day.  

That's a wrap for the last week of August.  Can you believe it will be September next week?  Until next time, 

Cactus Forest Loop Drive


Cactus Forest Trail