We pulled into Tucson and it was nice to see Saguaro cactus inter-twined with mountains. We decided to stay at Catalina State Park since we’re so close to a city, there really isn’t any place to stay in a dispersed area.
The park was a really pretty area in the desert. There were numerous mesquite trees which the birds in the area thoroughly enjoyed and countless trails for us to walk the dogs. We did see several male and female cardinals which they are absolutely gorgeous. They are quite difficult to take pictures of as I quickly learned. The Cassin’s finches, however, were much more cooperative.
The first day we arrived, I saw something run across the grass. I grabbed my camera and headed over to see what it was. I was so excited to find out that it was a roadrunner! Now, for many, this may seem silly as truthfully, it’s just a bird. However, there is a story behind my love of the roadrunner. When i was about 4 or 5 years old, my grandfather would sit me on his lap and read to me from the Colorado Outdoor magazine. One of the many articles that he read to me was about the roadrunner and I became instantly intrigued by this bird. For years, he would show me any article about the roadrunner that he could find. In addition, his brother, my great uncle Clyde, sent me a glass roadrunner and wooden roadrunners that could be placed on a fence as a wind gauge which hung on our fence until the day we left Montana.
That’s my excuse anyhow, for running back to John and yelling—it’s a roadrunner! about 50 times over. This very cool bird, made several appearances over the 2 1/2 weeks we stayed here so i was able to snap a few pics.
We had several great bird encounters while we stayed at this park. It was wonderful to see the hummingbirds that I enjoy so much during the summer in Montana down here in the winter. We also saw butterflies and an array of other birds. We also encountered a rare critter. While walking the dogs one morning, we were in the brush that surrounded the campground. John saw something up ahead and we both stopped and through the brush we saw something white romping around. A closer look revealed an albino skunk which is something that you don’t see every day. I really wanted to try and snap a picture but John was completely against chasing the skunk for the purpose of a picture. sheesh! 🙂
Our main reason for visiting Tucson is to visit some old friends of John’s. He used to live here back in the 80’s & 90’s for about 13 years. He showed me some of his old haunts and we had dinner with some of his old friends which we both really enjoyed.
We also found after a little research, that Tucson has fantastic farmers markets during the winter which were absolutely wonderful. I was very excited to find fresh vegetables and grass fed beef available in February. I even tried prickly pear juice made from the cactus and surprisingly, it was really good. i had no idea that they make jam, juice, breads, etc from the fruit that blooms each spring from the cactus. I also learned about a few recipes that can be made from the paddles of prickly pear cactus so I can’t wait to try those out.
We’ll be here in this area for quite a bit so I’m sure I’ll have more pictures to post.