Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park. Home to a gargantuan population of Saguaro cactus, the biggest I've seen yet in Arizona. Today, we broke camp and drove to Saguaro NP, but ended up mountain biking in next door Tucson Mountain Park instead. The National Park was packed, and parking was impossible, not to mention that the trails were limited to foot traffic. We hit a trail that was an abandoned road, thinking I could do little damage to myself falling off a bicycle there... foolish, I know.

I only fell twice before we called it quits and drove the parks' many roads instead. I'm about as graceful with this cast on as I am walking through about 4 feet of water. My arms and legs look like I've been tumbled in a clothes dryer with a bunch of rocks.

So many cool things happened today, including the roadrunners that showed up as we broke camp...

We were on a decent trail and could get going pretty fast on the bikes (makes for a harder landing). We're considering a new nickname for me - "Crash".

The cactus here is so big, it's hard to get a decent handle on the perspective in a photo. Bart is level with the base of this behemoth:

After we realized my fall-per-mile ratio (FPM, new scale, we just invented for me today) was dangerously high, we packed up the bikes and pursued the park on 4 wheels instead. (Thanks again for letting us borrow a normal-sized vehicle, Tiffany and Jason... we'd be miserable in one of our cars)

At the top of Gates Pass, there is a lookout point that overlooks the parks below and the Avra Valley. From up there, the world appears to be tilt-shifted, as if these ancient Saguaro are little claymation figurines.

We waited up there for the sun to set, which lately is my favorite part of the day. I made a few calls and set a few things up for us tomorrow (stay tuned) and when the sun was about to set, stood between two red Arizona mountains and said goodnight to the sun. Well, me and about 200 others, this place was really busy. And you can see why...

It looks like a postcard.

As we watched, the clouds transformed, disintegrating, vaporizing and materializing elsewhere as a new shape... at one point, this cloud twisted into a swallow, swooping in to brush the crescent moon. See the head in the middle of the photo, the wings sweeping back and tail straight up in the sky...

It was a lovely day, and now we're in Phoenix, preparing for a day around town tomorrow before possibly heading up to Sedona tomorrow afternoon. We'll see what the morning's secret adventure brings!

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