Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Good-bye Chronicles Chapter 5: A Return to the Beginning

1. Saguaro NP east Saguaro National Park Rincon Mt. Unit 7-18-10

July 18, 2010

Sunday morning. It’s hot. It’s humid, but we decide to take a drive anyways. I want to drive through Saguaro National Park’s Rincon unit, for it is where it all began. When we first moved here 3 years ago I used to come here all the time. We were staying in the studio apartment then waiting to find someplace to live. One day while Gus was at work I drove over to Saguaro National Park and bought a National Parks pass. This allowed me to go in as often as I wanted to without paying each and every time.

2. Road Saguaro NP 7-18-10

Saguaro National Park is divided into two separate units. The Tucson Mountain Unit sits on the west side of town and it was the first part of the park we visited before we even moved down here. It was while we were visiting our kids for Thanksgiving in 2006 that Gus decided he wanted to live where he can wear shorts in the wintertime. We went home to Utah from that trip and Gus started applying for jobs. Within three months we were living here. The eastern portion of Saguaro National Park is actually the largest, but very few people make it into the back country. I must say that I never have. However, the park is still quite enjoyable from the 7 mile loop road and the few trails I have accessed from below. Now, as we drive through the gate this Sunday morning memories of those other visits come rushing back and as we drive I am well aware that this might be the last time I get to do this.

3. Saguaro n OcotilloSaguaro and Ocotillo 7-18-10 

We have both cameras with us, but I am using my binoculars and counting birds as we go. For once Gus is stopping without me having to ask him. He is taking pictures of everything. I can tell that he is well aware of the fact that it could be a very long time before we see any of this again. Whenever he stops to take pictures I count birds. Suddenly we are like tourists once again and every cactus seems amazing to us.

4. Cactus close up

5. Saguro blossomSaguaro Blossom 7-18-10

6. Prickly pear fruit Prickly Pears 7-18-10

7. cholla surprise Cholla Cactus 7-18-10

8. Prickly pear Prickly pears 7-18-10

9. prickly pear Prickly pear cactus 7-18-10

10. Pincushion cactus Flowering Pincushion Cactus 7-18-10

Though it is only around 9:30 a.m. the temperature has started to rise. Accompanied by the humidity, it’s quite uncomfortable out there. Thankfully we are in an air-conditioned car, though the sound of the motor running drowns out the birds. At our next stop I shut the car off and Gus wants to know why. I tell him I cannot hear the birds. He goes back to photographing a cactus and I listen and watch. White-winged doves are everywhere, but I have seen a few purple martins, a couple of flycatchers and some Gila woodpeckers. Turkey vultures circle above in the clear blue sky. Will they find anything that has died on this hot day? I suspect they will.

11. Sagauro The road winds up through a cactus forest. The Rincon Mountains loom before us. We stop at a favorite overlook, then get back in the car and drive as the road bends back toward the city. Soon all of Tucson is spread before us. In the distance the Tucson Mountains punctuate the skyline. It’s almost noontime now and the heat makes it impossible to drive with windows open. We view the world from within this steel and glass air-conditioned cage. It is not quite how I would choose to experience the park, but I am not in favor of passing out from the heat and humidity.


12. death and lifeGus seems obsessed with dead and dying saguaros on this day. I wonder if he is making the connection between his subject matter and the end of our life here in Tucson. I certainly do.

13. Bones 14. more cactus bones 15. dead arms Old man cactus with arms 7-18-10

After an hour and 40 minutes and 6.5 miles of driving I counted 18 species of birds on this day. The most numerous species were white-winged doves. I counted at least 40 of them. Our days here are probably limited. I am torn between wanting to visit old haunts to say good-bye and trying to see other places that I never got to. How will I choose what to do? Will I have time to do any of it? I will not have any answers until later on this week. How does one say good-bye to the land and the place they love?

16. rincon mts Saguaro NP Rincon Mountains 7-18-10

(All of today’s photos were taken by Gusto! with the Nikon D90)

Birds Seen Today In Saguaro National Park Rincon Mt Unit

Location: Saguaro NP--Rincon Mt Unit
Observation date: 7/18/10
Notes: Drove through the park slowly with Gus. Stopped a few places along the way.
Number of species: 18
Gambel's Quail 4
Turkey Vulture 6
White-winged Dove 40
Mourning Dove 2
Gila Woodpecker 12
Gilded Flicker 4
Ash-throated Flycatcher 2
Brown-crested Flycatcher 3
Purple Martin (Desert) 2
Verdin 2
Cactus Wren 3
Northern Mockingbird 2
Curve-billed Thrasher (Western) 4
Rufous-crowned Sparrow 2
Black-throated Sparrow 4
Pyrrhuloxia 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
House Finch 2
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

17. 3 saguaros DSC_0090 DSC_0094

The Good-bye Chronicles

Kathie’s Poet Tree 

Sycamore Canyon Birds


Kelly said...

...these landscapes are so strange to me. I think, like you, I wouldn't be able to leave either. I want to go've really captured the beauty in your photos...

Naturegirl said...

Kathie I shall miss your photos and prose describing the desert the place that I spend my winter months in!
With the time left in AZ live your life in small moments savoring those sights the desert offers.
Those memories will be with you forever and how blessed you are to have the experience!
I look forward to my move to the woodlands and the beach and I know that you will also find just the place that will shape your future and bring happiness to your heart!
Concentrate your thoughts and vilualize your special place in your mind!The Universe shall reward you I am sure Kathie!
How wonderfull that we have met through our blogs...I will post on my blog about your beloved desert during my winter escapes!
Happy house hunting!
a gal living out her dream,
hugs anna

Gaelyn said...

How fitting to go back to the beginning. I've never been to Saguaro NP, maybe this winter. I'm awed by the skeletal saguaros, and the living as well. Hope you get a chance to visit the canyon's North Rim.

trav4adventures said...

Katie, those are beautiful photos and they will give you wonderful memories. I can understand your reluctance to move, but perhaps a new door is opening for you?

Kathie Brown said...

Kelly, thank you! Gus took these photos though. I was too busy watching birds!

Anna, I so thank you for your encouragement and I am so happy that you get to LIVE and see your dreams come true! Now you will be MY window on the desert! I will need you espcially in the winter months!

Gaelyn, Thank you. I hope so also.

travels4adventure, you are so right! There are always new adventures to be had.

FAB said...

Hi Kathie Interesting that our eyes can look at the sights so well known to us but still see something new. Take care and just take each day as it comes. FAB.

Kathie Brown said...

Early birder, thank you for your encouragement. That is what I am doing, except occasionally I do shed a few tears for this place.

Candice Suter.....Sweetstuff said...

Kathie Gus' pictures are fantastic. I understand his fascination with the dead and dying Saguaro's. When I was visiting my sister in Phoenix I bought a book on these beautiful cactus. That made me look at the beauty of the dead ones in a different way. It takes at least 60 years for an arm to develop on Saguaro. So you can imagine how old the really large ones are with many arms. So it really shook me up when I saw a really old one that was dead or dying. It made me sad but yet I still found it beautiful. Then I read that sometimes small Saguaro's start growing at the base of the dying because of the seeds that fell there and the protection that it still provides.

At least you know that your beautiful desert will go on even after you have moved to new adventures.