Cactus Garden

Yesterday was a laid back day. In the morning, after I posted to the blog, Donna went for a hike. While she was out, I took care of a couple of chores that needed to be done before we head out of here on Sunday. I cleaned and lubed the chains on our bicycles. The chain on my mountain bike picked up a lot of grit from the dusty trails around here.

I used to have a complete bicycle mechanic tool set from Park Tools, but they were stolen along with our cargo trailer by those Dirty, Rotten Thieves. I didn’t replace the complete set, but I did buy a Park CM-5 Cyclone Chain Cleaner from Amazon. This makes getting the chain clean a breeze. I use a 50/50 Simple Green and water mixture to scrub the chain. Then I follow up with plain water to rinse it clean and dry the chain. Then I lube it with DuMonde Tech chain lube.

Once I had that job done, I hung the bikes in the trailer. I need to straighten out a few more things in the trailer before we can load the scooter.

Brett Miller posted a comment in yesterday’s blog about the cactus garden here at North Ranch RV Park. After lunch, we walked over to office to ask about it. It turned out to be a little park at the end of the street where we are parked. It’s on the north end of the street, which is basically a dead end. We hadn’t been down there and didn’t know about it. It’s a beautiful garden with many of the plants labeled. We strolled through and I took pictures. Many of the plants were blooming. You’ll want to click on the photos to enlarge them.

Chenille prickly pear blooms

Chenille prickly pear blooms

There are two large, old saguaros in the park. This begs the question (again). Why do these saguaros survive here while only one saguaro stands in the desert for miles around the park? These saguaros were here long before the park existed. We have a few theories, but that’s all they are.

There’s an ancient, giant saguaro called Methuselah in the park. A placard claims it dates back to 1600. I’m not sure how that was determined. The Arizona – Sonoran Desert Museum says saguaros can live up to 150 – 200 years. Having said that, I’ll add that Kevin Hultine, a plant physiologist at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden says that a typical saguaro can live up to 200 years but adds, “We are not entirely sure of the true age of the largest individuals.”

Methuselah - an ancient saguaro

Methuselah – an ancient saguaro

There’s another old saguaro called Sheba. The placard says “circa 1870”. This could very well be true. We saw a Gila woodpecker nesting in Sheba. You can see some flowers blooming and others ready to blossom on the ends of the “arms.”

Sheba - another old saguaro

Sheba – another old saguaro

Some of the prickly pear cacti had pretty blossoms, especially the Santa Rita prickly pear cactus with its yellow flowers.

Santa Rita prickly pear

Santa Rita prickly pear

The park is very clean and nicely laid out. The paths wind around the cactus displays with groomed gravel over a hard packed base.

Saguaro Park

Saguaro Park

Santa Rita (right) and purple prickly pear (left)

Santa Rita (right) and purple prickly pear (left)

Cowtongue cactus

Cow tongue cactus

The wind picked up in the afternoon as we were enjoying the cactus garden.

Windblown Donna taking a break

Windblown Donna taking a break

At the other end of the park we saw a sign warning about an active javelina visiting the park to forage.

Javelina spotted in the park

Javelina spotted in the park

We didn’t encounter javelina, however we did see a couple of interesting lizards. The first was a desert spiny lizard. He was trying to hide beneath a prickly pear cactus.

Desert spiny lizard

Desert spiny lizard

He's there in the circled area

He’s there in the circled area

The other lizard we saw was a Western whiptail. He didn’t let me get too close. As I closed in for a photo, he would scramble away.

Sonoran desert whiptail

Western whiptail lizard

Last night we watched a movie called Waterproof, starring Burt Reynolds. What a flop. No wonder I never heard of it before. Donna will return it to the park library, where she borrowed it.

The wind was still blowing at bedtime. I battened down the hatches in anticipation of more wind and rain. The wind woke me up a few times as the coach rocked. The rain came early this morning, but moved out of the area by 9:30am.

We have a project for later today, then I need to pack the scooter and prepare to leave tomorrow. We’ll head over to the Camp Verde – Cottonwood area first. Then I think we’ll go to the Grand Canyon.

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