Today I had a lovely adventure. After driving about thirty minutes west from the center of Tucson, I came upon a place called the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. Part zoo, part arboretum, and part wilderness adventure, it was an interesting place to explore on a warm winter's afternoon. There were acres of wild desert within the park, surrounded by many more. There were dusty gravel trails for hiking, and many opportunities for up close and personal encounters with many native desert plants, including my most favorite, the tall, rumpled and sometimes armed saguaro.
And there were native animals. Mountain lions, black bears, Mexican wolves, and bighorn sheep; beavers and river otters. Countless wicked insects, snakes, and spiders. I adored the former, and skipped most of the latter.
The park itself was beautiful. I was particularly smitten with the cool, handmade rest areas, sprinkled here and there. Featuring a variety of rustic wooden and sometimes canvas roofs, each structure was different and special in its own way. They were also blessed with water fountains, running with cold, clear water. Quite refreshing.
When the park closed at 5 p.m., I jumped back into my car and headed back along the narrow two-lane road that bobbed and weaved its way back toward the Tucson Mountains.
I reached Grant's Pass just in time to take in the sunset. The perfect blue sky denied me the most extravagant of desert displays, but I will try real hard not to complain.
When the sun had slipped behind the mountains to the west, I pointed my car down the last hill and returned to town. And though I still feel very much like a fish out of water in the desert, I am learning to enjoy my southwest adventures.