Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saguaros!

Tucson gets about 350 days of sunshine a year. The rest of them seem to be happening right now....
Karl, Emil and Mrs. OZ do not like to leave "the ranch" so today Brody and
Dicky Duck showed me the desert. We drove over Gates Pass to Saguaro National Park West.
At the height of Gates Pass you have a great view of the
Baboquivari Mountains with Kitt Peak at their northern end. You also see Old Tucson Studios where many movies and the TV series High Chaparral were shot and which now is a tourist attraction.

We crossed over Gates Pass and drove into the "Saguaro Forest" - I insisted on stopping and taking a picture of me in one so you can see how huge they are! The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States, commonly reaching 40 feet and it's range is almost completely restricted to southern Arizona and western Sonora.

The we entered Saguaro National Park West. Any hope of the cloud cover breaking up had been abandoned by now. Dicky assured me we would go out again when the sun shines because it seems everything looks WAY better with sunshine....

The park has a very nice visitor center and I took my notebook because they told me it is also very educational! There are signs outside that tell you about the desert and when you look closely you can see how Dicky checks out the picture of the javelina.

Inside was a gift shop where I bought a little book about the desert for Gretchen and they also had this fabulous "hands-on" table with neat things on it:

You all know about javelina already of course. And mule deer and the desert tortoise are some other inhabitants of the desert. And here is the story about the saguaro boot:
"The Gila Woodpecker uses the Saguaro, and burrows through its tough outer flesh into the body of the plant where there is plenty of moisture, and a relatively cool environment shaded from the searing desert sun. Once through the skin, the bird makes a sharp downward turn and hollows out a space for itself. A cactus, being little more than a living water container would continuously lose moisture, and be open to infection if it didn't do something to protect itself, so the Saguaro begins to exude a resinous sap around the void which the bird has made. The sap gradually solidifies to form a hard, bark-like substance around the wound, rather like a scab on animal skin, only this scab doesn't go away. The woodpecker has learned to leave the newly excavated burrow for a while in order to let the sap harden, although other birds sometimes decide to make it their own before the woodpecker returns, particularly desert owls."

After all that education we felt the need to drive home to get some rest...

We all hopped into a cat bed to have a little nap before Karl, Emil and Mrs. OZ come in....

And that was my second day at The Cat Realm. I hope it will be sunny tomorrow...

Today is the last day to enter the contest!!!!

24 comments:

Skeeter, LC, and Ayla said...

Wow, Mike is sure havin some great adventures. We better start plannin things (he should arrive here "some day").

Ruis said...

Oh Mike, you're having such a fantastic vacation!! I think it was Brody's first time outside the ranch, too.;) Dicky Duck has seen more of the world and is a great guide!

Yes, both animals and plants need water. Great to learn how the Saguaro, a plant, survives. Mother Nature is the world's best gardener!

I loved to see how you, a cat, and a penguin and duck shared a bed...

headbutts,
Ruis

(love to my sweetheart!)

Chairman Mao said...

Wowie kazowie, Mike! You're havin such a superduper time! We Ballicai are lovin readin about yur adventures!

Kittyhugs and purrs from MaoMao!

Black Cat said...

That is so interesting and I never realised how beautiful the desert is. The photos are great and Mike is having a wonderful time:) xxx

Eric and Flynn said...

That wuz interesting about those hyooj cacti. It seems Mike is having a great time. We think we must be the opposite of you cuz it feels like we get 350 days of rain a year.

Chen & Ollie said...

Wow, Mike! What a fun day at the Cat Realm! Beautiful photos!
Purrs,
Mr. Chen & Ollie

Daisy said...

What a fun adventure. I really liked learning about the saguaro boot. I never knew woodpeckers were so smart.

zevo calamari said...

Those are such great pics! Have a great vacation. Send some sun our way!

If you have time please visit our blog... we need some help saving the wolves.

Lux said...

Saguaros are the coolest - we just have yuccas here! That's a fun day you had - I hope the sun shines soon!

Cheysuli and gemini said...

Those are very cool plants and what a cool trip!

Moki said...

What a great adventure. It sounds like you are learning alot! The desert can be so beautiful in the sun, but it can be equally spectacular on an over cast day.

Maya and Kena said...

What an amazing and educational trip!!
Mike is so lucky!!
Wags and licks,
Maya and Kena

The Devil Dog said...

That is a great vacation you are having. Mom found the Saguaro story fascinating. We are glad you are having a good time on your vacation.

Roxy

Gretchen said...

Mike, Brody and Dicky Duck

I'm sure sorry you didn't have sun there. As soon as Mike left Oregon the sun came out, HA!

I'm glad the three of you ventured out on your own. It was a great tour and you brought back some great shots.

Mike...be careful...you could get the others in trouble climbing around on those spiny catus.

Hugs to all....G

Gandalf & Grayson said...

Wow, that was a ginormous cactus! We have never seen anything like that! It sure sounds like your desert adventure is exciting & educational!

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

40 feet! Wow, yoo guys is learning a lot and teaching us some good stuff too.

michico*Adan said...

Mike is having so much fun~!
Now you guys make Michico wants to travel there as well~!!!
What a great place!!!!!!!!!!

Pablo said...

Wowee. Tucson seems like the most interesting place! I love that the sign on the 'hands-on' table said 'please touch'. Enjoy your stay, Mike!!

archi's mum said...

Thanks for sharing the adventures Mike! Made me homesick! My family lives on the east side right by Saguaro Ntl Park East and Sabino Canyon and Colossal cave. You should check out the Desert Museum -it's cool!

Hope it clears up, it's really rainy and gloomy here in Southern cali too where it's usually sunny!

have a great vacation

archi's mum said...

well poo poo on that other place then - stoops! sorry they are such bums :(

but glad you're getting to have a great time mike!

Maggy & Zoey said...

Thank you Mike for educatin' us about Aryzony.
Thank you Mike for makin' us laugh.
Thank you Mike for bein' quite awesomely awesome.

Hot(M)BC said...

Gee I thought those cactuses were only in cartoon. Silly me.
Fanks for joining the Carnival of the Cats this week!
Purrrrrrs,
Mini and the rest of the Hotties

Jewelgirl said...

This reminds me of Toonces the
cat from Sat Night Live.
You have a great sense of humor!
:)

Jan said...

Wow, this sure was fun. Jan says it wasn't half this interesting when she visited those sites.

jans funny farm