Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From the Valley of the Sun

My late uncle, Arnold, who lived in Scottsdale (AZ), always signed his e-mail messages "from the Valley of the Sun."

I thought that was a clever motto for the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, given that temperatures can reach over 110 degrees in the summer.

But after only a short time in the Valley, I have been won over by the beauty of the rising and setting of the sun.

We are fortunate enough to be camped on the edge of desert surrounding the Greater Phoenix area, so we have a good seat for viewing these daily events.

The sunrise (photo above) is typical.

The sunsets are magnificent, especially when accompanied by the magnificent Saguaro Cactus, the state flower. The Saguaro grows only in the Sonoran Desert, which extends from southeastern California to southern Arizona and adjoining northwestern Mexico.

The Saguaro grows very slowly -- perhaps an inch a year -- for the first eight years. Growth rates then vary depending on precipitation, climate, and location. They can grow to a great height, 15 to 50 feet. The largest plants, with more than 5 arms, are estimated to be 200 years old. An average old Saguaro would have 5 arms and be about 30 feet tall.

It was a short walk to sites just beyond the boundary of the RV park to take these photos. Even the people who have been staying here for the winter come out in the evenings to watch the sun set.

And as if the Saguaro were not enough, one evening a hot air balloon (lower left, photo on the left) floated into the scene.

One last note about the Saguaro cacti. They are protected by law, and protected native plants may not be legally possessed, taken or transported from the growing site without a permit from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. That law seems to make a lot of sense.

The beauty of the sunset brings the day to a serene close.

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