We worked our way south through California, stopping in Barstow, and into Arizona to Tonopah which allowed us to skirt around the Phoenix area. We chose to spend a couple of nights at Picacho Peak State Park, which is 45 minutes outside of Tucson, AZ. As we were setting up, it started to rain and it sprinkled most of the afternoon. After the rain, desert smelled wonderful and the light was amazing so we ventured out for a walk. Our site was well situated at the edge of the curve.
The light was also good in the morning. We were surrounded by Saguaro cacti.
It rained each day we were there, but never enough to bother us. Here’s a view from our campsite on our last morning. Sunshine and rain clouds: not a typical desert scene.
We didn’t have to look far for birds. This cactus wren posed on the closest Saguaro: singing away.
There were also lots of Curve-billed thrashers.
And a few Gila woodpeckers.
As well as some Black-throated sparrows.
We chose to stay a couple of days in the Tucson area because Wendy learned of an art quilt exhibit that was showing at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
This was one of Wendy’s favourite pieces. It’s by Karin Lusnak from Albany, California. Her description: A photo of sun on the water in Tahiti, the color of indigo blue, a jazz rendition of All Blues by Miles Davis. L’Attitude Bleue.
Doug’s favourite was Force and Reflection by Doris Hulse of Florida.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum was worth visiting. We spent over three hours there. Except for the art gallery, everything was outside. It was a zoo as well as a botanical garden. Here’s a photo from one of their cactus gardens.
Our next stop was Las Cruces, New Mexico. We had a couple of nights there, and we will be returning in a few weeks. The forecast was for winds picking up by midday, so we chose to drive to White Sands National Monument instead of birding. After viewing the video at the Visitor Centre, we drove to the far end of the road to the trailhead of Alkali Flat. The sand dunes were formed from gypsum in the mountains that first dissolved, then crystallized on the flats, then was wind-blown into dunes.
We headed out on the Alkali Flat trail, walking from sign post to sign post. But the trail was longer than we wanted and we could see the posts that were at the end of the circuit, so we headed off cross-country. It was a bit like walking in firm snow and a bit like navigating on an ice-field. Our tracks were probably covered in about half an hour.
We stopped at another site in the park that had a boardwalk out into the dunes.
The next morning we headed for Texas. Within an hour from Las Cruces, we were in El Paso, Texas. We took this photo from the truck when we were a stones throw from the Rio Grande and the Mexican Border. If you look past the larger white buildings, you might make out the border wall. The colourful buildings on the hillside are in Ciudad Juarez, which has a population of over 1.3 million.
Later that day, we arrived in Lajitas, Texas, our home for the next dozen days. You can look forward to seeing photos from Big Bend National Park, and our adventures mountain biking in the trails around Lajitas.