There is no symbol more emblematic of the American southwest than the monarch of the Sonoran Desert, the saguaro cactus. Standing tall, their arms point to the heavens, as if in prayer to the universe for the light and moisture which they receive. The saguaro is renowned for the variety of fluky, all too human shapes it assumes...shapes that inspire wild and whimsical perceptions. The Tohono O'odham culture passed down beliefs that the saguaro cactus are actually the spirits of their ancestors, standing in the desert as watchful guardians, providing shade and protecting life-giving water. As I compare our own "fixed" paradigm of assumptions and rationale...I prefer the beliefs of the ancient ones, that all things are alive and spirituality is sought through intimate communion with the natural world.
We found that these monarchs of the Sonoran Desert are living monuments and a mirror of the past and examples for the future. In our walks through life, they remain steadfast and immoveable. And they truly are a reminder of the influence of our ancestors and that our true strength comes from the powers that reside within each of us.
We spent a few days at a beautiful campground within the Tucson Mountain Park, Gilbert Ray Campground. After savoring the remoteness and peacefulness of the dispersed camping we experienced at Indian Bread Rocks, being part of an rv "neighborhood" created a brief jolt. But as we were surrounded by lush desert vegetation, a plethora of wildlife (each night we were serenaded by the local saguaro coyote tribe). Also, as there were countless distractions to explore within the Tucson Mountain Park, our tolerance level toward crowds was raised.
One of our many highlights was actually a dream come true. Two of my favorite cravings in life broasted chicken and donuts, were found under one roof, behind one magical counter. When Imkelina first saw Queens Broaster Chicken and Donuts, I though she was joking...or it must be a mirage...or maybe I am on Candid Camera? But there it was and it turned out to be heavenly and worth multiple trips...surely a tease and brief glimpse of my afterlife.
|garden path of the Red Hills Visitor Center|
We enjoyed another priceless national treasure. Saguaro National Park preserves over 91,000 acres of the Sonoran Desert. The park consists of two districts Saguaro West and Saguaro East, separated by the city of Tucson. Being camped close by, we were able to enjoy the scenic drives, trails and the beautiful Red Hills Visitors Center of the west district. We drove the scenic unpaved Bajada Loop Drive through the dense saguaro forest being treated to some very unique cactus and beautiful desert vistas. Prior to the heat blanketing the desert floor, we hiked the short Signal Hill Trail. The trailhead features a a historic CCC built picnic area that you would be hard pressed to find a duplicate. The short climb takes you to dozens of ancient petroglyphs more than 800 years old. As we were quite alone, we had un-intterupted time to observe with fascination and reverence these ancient carvings.
|nesting hummingbird in the Hummingbird Aviary|
|Cactus Wren nest in a Palo Verder cactus|
|yearning to be free|
|Black Tailed Prairie Dog|
|Desert Loop Trail within the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum|
At Waypoints 32.21999, -111.14129