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Kathleen and I decided to visit my parents in Tucson and to connect with some old friends. Spring in the desert is a great time to visit as it is not too hot and not too cold. Additionally, most of the local flora is in bloom and there are lots of desert critters around feeding and breeding before it gets too hot. And, as an additional bonus, a friend of the family was organizing a Caid family reunion to celebrate 60 years of operation of the family business. So, to get away from the Seattle gloom, we decided to fly down to sunny southern Arizona and see what was happening. The photos below are what we saw.
Dad bought an ariel view of his place. Although this was taken several years ago, before some significant remodeling actions were completed, it gives a sense of scale of the "estancia". Pusch Ridge, a major geological structure of the nearby Catalina Mountains are to the top of the photo.
We arrived at the house early in the afternoon, thus providing favorable lighting. This is a view of the "backside" of the Santa Catalina Mountains from the parent's back yard. The ridgeline visible in the distance is "Pusch Ridge" on the western edge of the mountain range.
My father fancies himself as a horticulturist. As such, he takes pride in his plants. But, recent cold weather and recurring freezes in the Tucson area have nearly killed his Queen palms in the back yard. Note the dead fronds on all three Queen palms. Gladly, none of the more hardy Mexican, Sagos or other palms suffered as badly as the Queens.
Pusch Ridge is one of my favorite structures in the Catalina Mountains. The cliffs are imposing and the view is beautiful.
A combined view of the pool area and the mountains.
Outside the back wall of the Caid compound is raw Sonoran desert. This time of year nearly everything is blooming. In this photo, you can see chollas of several species, palo verde and desert broom all in bloom.
Here is a closeup of the blooms on the palo verde trees. Despite their great, vibrant colors, the locals do not really like them as they bleed blooms onto the ground. Nothing is free, even natural beauty I guess.
The local prickly pear cactus has great blooms.
Here is a staghorn cholla in bloom. Note the fine structure of the flower.
A three-for-one cholla bloom.
More tasty prickly pear blooms. The locals make jams and jelly from the fruit. Despite living in Tucson for a big part of my life, I can truthfully say that I have never tried cactus jelly although I have heard that it is tasty.
Outside the back wall of the property is raw Sonoran desert except where Dad has removed the detritus of cactus thorns.
The recently completed deck over the garage affords a great view of the bajada below Pusch Ridge. The back wall of the estancia is visible in the lower right.
On our second day, we visited a long time friend in Oracle, AZ. Her place is "in the boondocks" and is therefore blessed with lots of wildlife. Sadly, since her place is near a wash, she also gets flash floods (as documented on my site in 2003). Above, her hummingbird feeder attracts a large number of birds of many species. Here, Kathleen was able to get 2 hummers at once inbound to the feeder.
Since it was spring in the foothills, there were many flowers and butterflies.
This butterfly was a bit darker than the previous one.
Kathleen shot this bird from the front porch of Sandee's place. I do not know what kind of bird this is but it is beautiful.
These are Mexican doves. They have a beautiful cooing call which is a hallmark of the Sonora desert.
I believe that this a female Gamble's quail.
This is a male Gamble's quail.
The center of attraction for the non-humming birds was this feeder.
Even rabbits were attracted to the area.
Is this an oriole? I have no clue as I am not a "birder".
Finally, sunset over Pusch Ridge from the estancia.
Tucson is always a nice place to visit. But it is particularly nice in the spring when it is "not too hot, not too cold". The weather was kind to us on this trip. Oddly, we did get heavy rain on the second morning, but it quit by 0700 leaving remarkably clear air in its wake.
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