Tucson

Hi everyone,

I’m still in San Diego. I’ll report on my activities here in a few days.

Reading: Mormon Country by Wallace  Stegner. Originally published in 1942, this essay is fascinating, if you’re interested in this type of thing. I am.

Article currently working on: Bivalve and barnacle larvae distribution driven by water temperature in a Mediterranean lagoon

Editing note added on October 14th: Captain has alerted me to the fact that I’d misnamed the saguaro cactus as organ pipe (which is yet another type of cactus). I’ve corrected the mistake here.

 

September 25th – 30th

Tucson is hot. Very hot, even this late in the season. In the high nineties F (36 to 38° C). And it doesn’t cool down very much at night.

I arrive around lunch time from Patagonia and find a motel. I plan to stay through the weekend as I have an appointment to get Van serviced tomorrow morning and to see a chiropractor myself on Monday. Yes, my back has been giving me trouble.

I spend the next several days visiting the area, getting my errands done, working on some papers and working on the blog. One day I drive up to Summerhaven, in the eastern mountains. It’s much cooler up there. Also, I visit some of the local restaurants. And early in the morning I ride my bike around the city center and on the university campus (which is very impressive, by the way).

I find some of the houses in Tucson to be really interesting, particularly in the northern hill area. Many of the houses in the city center look traditionally American, but with the predominating desert vegetation (of course). However, to the north of the city lie the Catalina Mountains, and below them many a posh and intriguing neighborhood. There, I have a hard time seeing the houses due to the heavy vegetation that surrounds them.

The Catalina Mountains in the late afternoon light:

Catalina Mts. 1

The mountains extend from west to east, the entire length of the city.

 

The area gives me my first photo of a saguaro cactus. I saw my first one driving into the city from the east. Apparently they’re a low altitude plant, so we don’t see them in Patagonia or Portal.

Catalina 3 + cactus

 

But the saguaro cacti are only a part of the local flora:

Cacti 1_organ pipe + vegetation

Cacti 2 + vegetation

The plant life here is, in fact, quite abundant and diverse.

 

The perfect saguaro, with a small prickly pear at its feet…

Cacti 4_perfect organ pipe

…but I recognize some other plants too.

 

Here we see an agave and my old friend the barrel cactus.

House 2 + agave + barrel + vegetation

 

And here are two barrel cacti, one of them with a red blossom on top. They have a cholla for a neighbor.

Barrel + cholla

The red blossom up close:

Barrel  + red blossom

Does it turn yellow when it fully opens?

Barrel + yellow blossom

Maybe Lois or Val can tell us?

 

Facing the east, as you can see, there are a good many houses here…

Catalina 5_many houses_east

…though sometimes they’re difficult to see:

House + cacti

 

They appear to be buried in the plant life, with only the roof visible:

Houses 3 bis...

 

Occasionally you get a good glimpse of a part of the house…

Catalina 2

…but not much more.

 

I like Tucson.

 

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Patagonia, Arizona

Patagonia, Arizona, that is, in particular Patagonia State Park.

Still reading: Dominguez-Escalante Journal

 

September 24th & 25th

It’s time for me to relax and camp by myself for a day. So from Tombstone I drive to Patagonia State Park in southern Arizona, not far at all from the border at Nogales. The town of Patagonia itself is an interesting and rather pretty place with much greenery. To learn more, look here. And for pictures look here.

I arrive in the late morning and find a campsite. I have to pay for a full hookup to get the campsite I want, an isolated one near the lake, but it’s worth it:

1_Campsite 1

If you look hard, to the right, you can catch a glimpse of the lake.

 

More views of my campsite…

2_Campsite 2

…that evening…

3_Campsite 3

…and the next morning…

4_Campsite 4

 

A few views of the campground, from my campsite, as the sun comes up.

5_Campground 1_morning

 

I’m nearly alone here. The nearest neighbors are way over there…

6_Campground 2_nearest neighbors

…and in the morning light I take a picture of my silhouette:

8_Campground 4_me_shadow

I’m starting to take a real interest in photography.

 

Here’s a view from my campsite, towards the east, taken that evening…

10_View_evening 1_east

…and towards the west, taken the next morning:

11_View_morning_west

Again, you get a glimpse of the lake down below.  I promise you I’m taking you there soon.

 

But first here’s a view of the evening sky, to the west…

12_Sky_evening 2_west

Desert sunsets are terrific…

…as are the sunrises:

13_Sky_morning_east

 

Now, at last, down to the lake, and to my new swimming hole:

14_Lake 1_to shore & swimming hole

 

Swimming is allowed at most points on the lake.

15_Lake 2_evening_west

 

The view across the lake in the morning…

19_Lake 6_morning across

…and here’s my swimming hole again. I swim a lot while I’m here.

20_Lake 7_bank

 

Patagonia Park is rich in wildlife and is of particular interest to bird watchers. The trail you see here in the background is a nature trail leading to the far eastern end of the lake and is designed for birding. The cactus we see here is called a barrel cactus or a fish hook cactus. I’ve seen one before, at Dirk’s place. In this picture it looks as though another plant is growing out of the top…

26_Plants_barrel cactus 1

…but this picture gives you a better idea…

27_Plants_barrel cactus 2

…and this picture, taken at Dirk’s place, shows some of the spines that look like fish hooks, hence the name fish hook cactus:

28_Plants_barrel-fishhook

 

If you follow the birdwatcher’s trail for a ways, you see a lot of plants typical in the region:

25_Plants_ with a tree

IMG_2287

When I first arrive here, I take a long hike along the birdwatching trail and then through the rest of the campground area.  I don’t take any pictures, though, as the sun is directly over head.

Closer to my campsite, and in the morning, I find a lot of  interesting photo opportunities, such as this cholla…

30_Plants_cholla and tree 2

…and these berries…

32_Plants_red berries 1 33_Plants_redberries 2

…though I have no idea what they’re called…

34_Plants_orange berries

 

I find a few flowers too…

22_Flowers 1_white

…and some wild morning glories:

23_Flowers 2_morning glory 1 24_Flowers 2_morning glory 2

There are a lot of morning glories in the area and I take a lot of photos, but most of my photos don’t look very good. I experiment with the zoom a lot and I have a lot to learn.

I’m happy at this campsite and at this campground, and I figure it’s worthwhile to pay for a full hookup even though I can’t really use it with Van. When the sun goes down I can plug in the computer and work through the evening without fear of running down the battery too much, right? I’ll get all caught up with the blog, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong! As soon as I try to turn on the computer hordes of inects descend upon both me and the screen.  And I do mean hordes.  By eight o’clock in the evening I give up and go to bed. The sun goes down early here, which is a good thing in this heat, but eight o’clock is early to go to bed. I don’t mind going to bed so early, but I do mind waking up so early, like 4 a.m. I can read in Van, but in this environment, even there, my light attracts a lot of bugs.

Otherwise, I’d like to stay here for another day or two. But Van has an appoimtent to be serviced, so I must be on my way after just one day.  The next stop is Tucson.