Wrote an entire post about the snow we had to celebrate both the State of Arizona’s 100th birthday and Valentine’s Day, both on February 14th. 

Unfortunately, WordPress ate my oh so very insightful comments and I am not inspired to write them again. 

So for your enjoyment, without too many words to distract you from the beautiful scenery, here are some images of the Tucson Mountains viewed from the Visitor Center at Saguaro National Park West.


Sunset at Saguaro National Park West

Another year begins and I still have to figure out where the last one went – and that is a good thing.  It means, to me at least, that I was busy doing things I enjoyed, that I was not too idle, but idle enough at times to enjoy my surroundings, and that I am still interested in learning and open to new experiences. 

It also means that I am physically (mostly, must have a talk with my knees) and mentally able to do them.  I have been lucky to meet and make friends with people from all over the country and the world with an incredible and varied amount of interest and knowledge about things I never knew.  And I am able to share some of my knowledge and experiences with others.

One question that I often heard before retirement was “what are you going to do with all that free time?”  My answer always was, to the beffudlement of some, “would you like to see my list?”.  A few did nod their heads in agreement, they knew exactly what I was talking about, but others could not understand.

Retirement is a hard earned status, you work all your life to get there.  It is not, does not have to be, the end of a productive life.  On the contrary, it is an opportunity to begin catching up with a multitude of things that were never done or tried because of the many obligations one has during ones lifetime.

It is a curious thing.  As time goes by and things on that list are accomplished, the list grows longer instead of shorter.  In reality, I have not gotten around to do many of the things I had originally planned to do.  Instead, I have found a whole lot of other things to do.    New experiences, exposure to new people, all seem to add multiple new things to look forward to for every one item crossed off that list.

As a matter of fact, I have been so busy that I am now on a three week vacation from retirement.  Looking forward to getting back to ‘work’!

at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum came to an end last Saturday.  I am going to miss them!

The Desert Museum is a different place after the sun goes down.  The animals act differently, many of them become active when the sun starts going down and the day begins to cool off.  That includes both the animals on exhibit by the Museum, and those from the neighborhood that come to visit.  Needless to say, we had quite a number of snake sightings, mostly Western Diamonback Rattlesnakes and coachwhips, particularly during the month of August. 

But for me, the highlight was coming across a coral snake – beautiful, colorful and quite small.  Its venom is quite potent, but its mouth is so small, you almost have to put your fingers in his mouth in order to be bitten.  Not to alarm future visitors, the staff is very efficient at safely catching the snakes and relocating them to another area where they are neither a danger to the visitors, nor the visitors a danger to them.

Another creature that literally shines during SSE’s is the scorpion.  Under a blacklight, scorpions flouresce.  Visitors, particularly the younger set, which are quite awake and curious until 10pm when the doors close, become avid scorpion searchers.  They shine their black lights into every crevice of the stone walls to find these elusive little creatures.  Who would have thought scorpions would be such an attraction!

Then we have the flying creatures, mainly bats, moths and other types of insects.  I was fascinated by the ecolocator, which allows us to hear the bat’s sonar clicks as they hunt for insects around the Riparian area.  I was somewhat less fascinated (but that is a personal bias, others were enthralled) by the variety of moths and insects that were attracted to a white sheet and bright light set up just for that purpose.  I must admit though, that a lot of the beetles and moths I saw were quite beautiful.  The moths looked as if they had been gently painted in some muted colors.   And I never would have imagined that some beetles had such gorgeous colors and patterns.  Others I will just say were interesting and leave it at that.

As if that were not enough, I found some visitors to be as interesting as the animals they came to see.  This is a different crowd than the daytime visitors.  Rather than out-of-town visitors and tourists, they are mostly local, knowleadgeable and they love to do this every year.   They come every Saturday throughout the summer for a stroll around the grounds and dinner at one of the restaurants.  I am happy to say that I have made friends with some of them. 

I did not meet him, but I heard about a young boy that has been coming for years(!) – his favorite stop is the saguaro stew station.  Kudus to the parents for encouraging him to learn about something that obviously fascinates his young mind.  Oh, and what is saguaro stew, you ask?  It is the rotting remains of a saguaro that has died and is chock full of little creatures of interest.  Well, you did ask, and yes, we do look at EVERYTHING in the Desert Museum.

 One couple is as knowleadgeable about the Museum and the critters as anyone I have met.  And after the Museum closes, they stop on the way home at various pullouts on the road looking for more creatures!

Another individual is an extraordinarily good photographer that has perfected a technique for photographing scorpions under a mixture of black and white light so that the flourescense shows and one can also clearly see details, including the very tiny babies on a mother’s back.  I am delighted that he gave me a couple of prints of his scorpion photographs.  And by the way, his hummingbird pictures are some of the best I have ever seen. 

So yes, I am going to miss going to the Desert Museum on Saturday evenings and meeting interesting people and critters.  Something to look forward to doing again next summer.