Tuhot and Tuwet

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October 21

New state:  New Mexico

This desert weather is really weird.

It’s the morning of my sixty-fourth birthday.  We’re sitting in a warm casita just off the Plaza in Santa Fe, and it’s raining.

EB1A0142This isn’t really the desert, but we’ve just spent several days to the south, especially three nights in Tucson, which boasts 360 days of sunshine a year.

We managed to see storms every day.

The first night in Tucson was spent in a little rv park near downtown where, had they had showers, we would have stayed, especially given the free foosball table.

The other two nights we moved to an rv “resort”  little north, or else east, of town (having some real directional issues here).  We ended up wasting an entire day in the rv park.  The resort was for the 55+ crowd.  Most of the spaces were permanent little units like mini mobile homes.

EB1A0154We did not make it into downtown Tucson, which is serviced by light rail that runs near the campground we left.

Our main exploration was to visit the Sonoran Desert Museum.  It’s more of a zoo than a museum, with trails winding through the desert to see a variety of plants and animals.  We saw a wolf, a mountain lion, fox, coyote, river otter(!), javelin, and butterflies.

We arrived just in time for the first raptor demo of the season – ravens, owl, and falcons swooped at our heads.

And lots of saguaro.  We learned saguaro can live 300 years.  They send out arms when they are dense EB1A0196enough to withstand freezing.  Each arm (and the original head) supports a single bloom.

We went from there to the western section of Saguaro National Park.  That’s where to go to see saguaro.  It’s also where we saw a serious storm brewing on the desert, so we didn’t stick around.  Besides, it was hot as the desert, which we’d already spent two hours in.

That evening we walked to dinner from the rv resort to a nice Mexican-food restaurant.  The two-mile walk turned out to be three, and it rained the whole way back.  Silly desert.

EB1A0181Let’s not forget the rain in perpetually dry Canyonlands.

The next day we hung out by the pool and watched storms roll across the horizon.  It did ‘t rain until after dark.

On the way out of town, we drove through the eastern division of Saguaro NP.  I was looking forward to a walk through the saguaro forest.

As we drove the loop road, Rebecca asked, “Where are the saguaros?” The area wasn’t devoid of the giant cacti, but they were much sparser than in the wesrtern section.   Turns out, there were two hard freezes, both over 50 years ago that wiped out most of the saguaro.  And cattle grazing in the park kept new baby saguaro from sprouting.

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Presumably keeping cows out and global warming will combine to restore the saguaro forest.

Our next stop was Elephant Butte Reservoir state park in New Mexico.  Dammed on the Rio Grande, it’s the largest lake in New Mexico, but it’s not the kake it once was.  Our “beach”campground is now a fifteen-minute walk from the shoreline.

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It was a very nice campsite, but still subject to desert weather.  We took a long walk along the edge of the lake, eventually retreating to the Wegwam for shelter from a severe lightning storm that did not arrive until after dark

We had interesting company in the campground – a covey of Gambel quail., which ran around the campsites, very seldom venturing to fly.EB1A0275

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Oh, at 64 I still have my hair.

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