I had to get up super-early today to catch a flight, and stopped on my way to my rental car to take this photo of some cacti around our hotel.
Marana, Arizona is, intentionally, a “dark” community with minimal lighting to avoid light pollution and facilitate better viewing of stars. Desert darkness is about as absolutely dark as it gets. The stars stand out in sharp relief, to be sure, while the giant saguaros are ghostly figures in the gloom, unless you use a flash as I did here.
The night and early morning hours are apparently a favorite time for gangs of Javelina to prowl the neighborhood, although I didn’t see any on my way to the parking lot. I was happy about that, because I’m not sure I would know how to deal with a nighttime encounter with a herd of wild, pig-like creatures.
We’re in the land of the big cactus, in the Oro Valley near Tucson, Arizona, for a short visit to get a change of scenery. And there’s no doubt about the change of scenery here; there are lots of Saguaro cacti in our immediate vicinity, including this big guy just outside the back door. You wouldn’t see this scene in Columbus.
No one knows precisely how old Saguaro cacti are, but the best guess is that adult plants are more than 100 years old, and perhaps even older. It’s interesting to think that this big fella probably was around to witness the last big pandemic to hit the U.S.
Boerne, Texas is in the Hill Country — drier than the coastal areas, but not quite desert, either. Nevertheless, it’s a good climate for desert plants like cactus. There’s a nice river walk along Cibolo Creek, where the cactus grow like weeds and the water is teeming with perch, bass, turtles, and “quackless” ducks. It’s a good place for a morning walk.
This Midwestern boy can’t help but goggle at the desert plants and scenery — and of course the cactus plants are the most alien to the Midwest, and therefore the most interesting.
For most of my hike up North Mountain the sky was overcast. I appreciated that more and more as I huffed and puffed up the trail, and wondered what it would be like to do so with the sun beating down relentlessly. As I descended with the aid of gravity and passed this solitary cactus sentinel, however, a patch of blue sky appeared on the western horizon.