We had some pretty spectacular storms in Arizona last summer. Thank you to Mike Olbinski for capturing nature’s fury.
Sunday was my birthday, and last Saturday my daughter Katie took me to Boyce Thompson Arboretum. A forty-five-minute drive from her home, the Arboretum is surrounded by desert.
It’s close to Tonto National Forest and I expected there would be lots of trees. (Click on the smaller images to enlarge and scroll through.)
But there’s so much more. Cacti, succulents, and flowers that thrive in the desert:
Roses! and butterflies:
Sculptures and benches and structures from which to rest and enjoy the view:
And speaking of views, you can see mountains from the trails.
I love the desert, and Boyce Thompson Arboretum shows off its beauty. We saw only a small portion of the park during the hours we were there, but Katie is a member of the Arboretum and promised me I can visit any time I want as her guest. We’ll be back soon.
It’s been a few days since I’ve written a poem but here is my offering for today’s prompt, a haibun (a hybrid form that combines prose with haiku; this is the first time I’ve ever heard of it) about the place where I live (outside Phoenix, Arizona).
Sun beats down relentlessly, and there’s been no measurable rain for nine months, yet somehow, even in the wilderness, the prevailing color is green. Desert leaves are wispy structures shimmering as breezes waft through them like a comb. In populated areas, blossoms riot in showy color.
Rain is a rumor
Sprinklers turn the desert soil
photos © ARHuelsenbeck
My youngest daughter had a day off work on December 30, and she invited me to come over and hang with her.
Katie lives almost an hour away, so I don’t often drive out there.
But she asked me so nicely. My heart swelled with joy. So, I said, “I’d love to.”
She’d been to our house Christmas morning, before going to work for the day. It was then she suggested we do something together. She proposed three different outings, and none of them appealed to me. So I suggested a hike, and she jumped on it.
The San Tan Mountain Regional Park, just a short drive from Katie’s house, contains 10,000 acres of desert, with beautifully maintained trails. We walked a loop that consisted of part of the Moonlight trail, the Stargazer trail, and part of the San Tan Trail, covering 2.5 miles of relatively easy walking.
Although Katie didn’t complain, I must have driven her crazy, because I stopped every few steps to take pictures. Honestly, the view changed constantly. And if you turned a few degrees, everything looked different again. I took 160 shots. I’m only going to share a few.
When we first moved to Arizona 28 years ago, I was expecting the desert to look like the Sahara–lots of sand, completely brown. The Arizona Sonoran Desert is full of life. It’s rocky, although sandy in some places. Mostly, it’s dirt. And the mountains are rocky.
If you go to northern Arizona, it snows up in the mountains. There are actual ski resorts up there. Those mountains are covered in pine trees rather than cactus.
A barrier of some kind.
I think this is a variety of cholla.
My pretty Katie, sitting on an interesting log.
You can see how rocky the soil is.
Housing developments in the distance, and more mountains in the background.
You can’t blame Katie for getting ahead of me. Besides, I got some action shots of her on the trail.
The trail had some gentle ups and downs, but nothing steep, at least not where we were.
A lot of people rode mountain bikes on these trails, too. Or walked their dogs. Everyone was so nice, too. They greeted us as we passed one another.
Someone stacked some rocks.
The rocks don’t deter plants from growing.
Do you see what I mean about how beautiful and how diverse it is out here? I want to try to paint some of these scenes.
Who left these tracks?
Oh. That’s who.
A tree growing right out of the rock.
The sky was so blue. The temperature was 69 degrees. It doesn’t get better than this.
I love the shadows on the mountains.
Okay, I’m done. But there’s so much more to explore. We’re planning to go back.
Photos © by ARHuelsenbeck and Katie Huelsenbeck.
When we moved from New Jersey to Arizona almost twenty-eight years ago, my biggest surprise was that it’s not sandy, brown, or dead. The desert is alive, with vibrant greens and pops of vivid color in the spring.
When my brother visited from New Jersey in March, I wanted him to experience the desert in all its glory. What better way to see it than from a boat?
Wait–a boat in the desert?
The Salt River (Rio Salado) runs right through Phoenix. You’d never know it, though, because there’s rarely any water in it. Why?
Because in the mountains way east of Phoenix, dams were built to create four reservoirs: Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon, and Saguaro Lakes. These reservoirs keep the greater Phoenix area well supplied with H2O. They are also recreational meccas for kayaking, camping, and fishing enthusiasts.
We hopped aboard the Desert Belle, a double deck cruise boat, for a 90-minute guided tour of the lake. Rimmed with breathtaking rock formations, the lake coaxed more than 150 shots from my camera. Here are some of the best.
See the two big horn sheep above? Near top center.
Photographs ©by Andrea R Huelsenbeck.