You probably picture bad guys with six guns riding horses in the dusty heat. Yet, one huge scenery staple for macho Western movies, the iconic Saguaro, surprised us with its feminine side…
Thanks to Westerns, I used to think a drab monochrome of tumbleweeds, rocks, and bare dirt dominated the desert landscape.
So the colorful surrounds of Saguaro National Park surprised. We immediately discovered the perfect weather of mid-May also begins the blooming season. We felt lucky as a saloon cowboy with a pair of pocket aces.
Our “Passport to Your National Parks” sticker and stamp book — acquired back at Carlsbad Caverns — was quickly becoming an addiction. We hustled the Delta Flyer to the Eastern section, to the Rincon Mountains Visitor’s Center, in time to stamp the book.
The botanical garden helped pass a short wait for the last park video of the day.
The park video prepared us to view these towering cactuses as more than a smooth, green gourd with spikes. The saguaro nurture life not only with blooms but also as habitat.
The one-way park drive wound gently and gradually through maybe strangest forest ever. First stop, Mica View Picnic Area. We hiked a short out and back but passed on the longer loop.
Settlers used the thorny, strong, and readily available Ocotilla as fencing.
Some folks dream of a white picket fence, me, not so much.
Good Ocotillo make good neighbors.
Our next stop was the botanical area, the Desert Ecological Trail…Bill kept saying, “Do you have this color already?” However I kept seeing variations in the textures and shades of cholla.
We continued the drive, which ascended a ridge. We stopped for pictures then for a picnic at Javelina Picnic Area.
Daylight remained, so next we hiked the Freeman Homestead trail. Sunset drew nearer and the homestead — not even much rubble, disappointed. The sun was getting lower and we began to wonder what creatures might be eyeing us for dinner so we pushed at a fast pace the hike back up the incline.
The ranger told us the drive closes after sunset, so we watched from the trailhead, and paused briefly at an overlook on our way to a refreshing brewery.