In yesterday's entry, our photographs showed scenes encountered on roughly half of the eight-mile Cactus Forest Drive through a portion of the Saguaro National Park.
Today we complete the course, photographically.
"The saguaro has been described as the monarch of the Sonoran Desert, as a prickly horror, as the supreme symbol of the American Southwest, and as a plant with personality. It is renowned for the variety of odd, all-too-human shapes it assumes, shapes that inspire wild and fanciful imaginings.
"Giant saguaro cacti, unique to the Sonoran Desert, sometimes reach a height of 50 feet in this cactus forest, which covers the valley floor, rising into the Rincon and West Tucson mountains. Since 1933 this extraordinary giant cactus has been protected within Saguaro National Park. In lushness and variety of life the Sonoran Desert far surpasses all other North American deserts" (http://www.desertusa.com/sag/du_sag_index.html).
The area was established as Saguaro National Monument on March 1, 1933, and later became a national park on October 14, 1994. It protects the saguaro cactus which is native to the region.
We continue to be intrigued by the desert, primarily because of its contrast to the scenery of the Mid-Atlantic states.
We also enjoy the challenge of finding splashes of color in the rather monotone nature of the desert in mid-winter.
At other times it was the shape and form of the cactus that caught our attention. The hooks on this fishhook barrel cactus are one example.
Near the completion of the drive, we passed by the Javelina Rocks and found some saguaro cacti thriving in some unusual places.
The Rincon Mountains and the Sonoran Desert present a stunning contrast to the city of Tucson, and a setting that will only increase in beauty in the spring.
We are two retirees--Chuck, 64, and Kate, 63--who decided to travel the U.S. On June 13, 2008, we began our long-talked-about travels by heading south from our home in Pennsylvania in our Ford 550 and 38’ New Horizons fifth wheel.
Our travel aim is to meet people and go at least "knee-deep" into the culture of several communities. To learn what is important in the lives of the residents of the towns, villages, and farms of America is our primary interest.
When not learning about what people do, we will be (1) sampling the foods that help people do what needs to be done and (2) listening to the music of their culture.
A neighborhood joint or local hall serving liquid refreshment and featuring a jam session with local musicians . . . well, it just doesn't get any better.
We welcome comments, questions, or suggestions of people to meet, places to visit, and "don't miss" neighborhood joints for food and/or music. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org