As we drove south the saguaros grew taller and the mountains dustier. The road to Tucson was hot and gave us the feeling we were in a Western movie. We listened to Johnny Cash and watched thousands of starlings in murmuration.
At sunset we found a quiet spot surrounded by mountain ranges on every side. We stayed on an old settlement of some kind that had a wooden horse pen and a rusty, broken down silo. We went to bed looking at the distant city lights.
In the morning the birds chirped and the sky turned yellow. Every sign we drove past on the dirt roads were full of bullet holes. You could admire Mt. Lemon from almost every angle of the road. We arrived to a home full of family at our destination.
Saguaro National Park was the highlight of our trip. On the drive the saguaro started multiplying by the thousands- then the millions. Forests and miles of beaming saguaro were all you could see. We walked a trail filled with Lycaenia Phlaeas, or Small Copper butterflies. These wonders of nature are found all the way from North America through Asia and to Ethiopia. Most saguaro don’t begin growing arms until they’ve reached 75 years old. Some live to be 200 years old. I also learned that cacti turn purple when they are stressed by their environment. This can be caused by extreme heat or too much exposure to the sun. Later we adventured to Wilcox, AZ to see where Staford’s mother grew up. We drove through the small desert town and admired her childhood home, saw the old town movie theater, and the lot where her fathers bar used to be. We spent the rest of the trip with Staford’s incredibly kind family. Our time was filled with lots of stories, lots of play, and too much food and drink.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park
We immensely enjoyed our time in Tucson. The area was fun and welcoming. The lifestyle was active and enriching. We were sad to leave the Southwest. We drove through New Mexico and Texas. We saw mountains go to flat land and warm weather turn to cold. But it’s back to the Midwest for the holiday season! Come back the next few weeks to learn more about our van, life in Missouri for the holidays, and more about what we’ve been into this past year. Thanks for reading Into Nature!
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