Monday, April 9, 2012

It's like PBS in here.

Teddy bear cholla flowers
We saw two species of cholla ("CHOY ah").  Neither one really jumps, but they're so friendly you only need to brush past to become emotionally entwined.  Carry a pocket comb or tweezers to remove the cholla segment, and expect it to hurt.  Your mother told you "beauty is pain."


Strawberry Hedgehog

Something else


"Crested" organ pipe cactus

It's a flower.

This saguaro's Easter bonnet was about 25 feet off the ground.

Saguaro clowning around.
We thought our campsite was spectacular with just ten species of cacti.  Organ Pipe National Monument is shut-my-mouth breathtaking.  



Cactus wren, I think.  Arizona state bird.

Mexico in the distance
The 21-mile Ajo Mountain Loop is a big deal here, and it deserves to be.  You can do this loop very well in the family car although you'll be even happier in something high-clearance.  Some parts of the road are narrow, but it's one-way traffic so you don't have to worry about passing someone.  Annie started counting the times I said STOP! but then quit when she came to the end of numbers.  You'll go through several distinct habitats, and you'll notice the flora changing.  The park provides a self-guided tour through the loop, and also a short guided walking tour near the Visitor's Center.

There are two trail hiking opportunities within the loop;  one looks pretty easy, and the other is more strenuous.  We're thinking we'd like to try the lazypants trail in two days when the temperature goes back to the 70's.  How else are we supposed to see a Gila monster?

"Gila Monsters are one of only two species of venomous lizards found in North America.  You can find them in the late spring through early autumn at ORPI.  They move really slow, and you have to try pretty hard to get bit.  We don't recommend it.  It hurts, and they don't let go."

The eastern edge of the park is an impressive mountain range.  The other side of that range is Tohono O'odham nation land.

The park fee is $8 for up to seven days in a vehicle.  You can also boondock in the campground for $12/night.  Dump station and drinkable water available there.  Or, boondock for free on stunning BLM land nearby.  This park is where we bought our America the Beautiful annual pass.  

You'll like this place SO MUCH MORE than you like these pictures, and Monument download time is faster.  I promise you'll say "Wow!" at least three times.  That is my "three Wow guarantee."


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Judy and Emma said...

Is that first cactus wren seeing his reflection in your glassed over eyes? :)

The Odd Essay said...

When we were there they offered a ranger-guided tour of the park. Well worth the time just listening to all the information. At that time one of the roads was closed due to all the trouble at the Lukeville border crossing. Your photos are beautiful... thanks for sharing!

Andra Watkins said...

I shall have to keep this one in my back pocket for a future AZ visit. It looks divine.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Judy, it DOES look like that, doesn't it? I'm pretty sure I saw two, though.

Sharon, was it the loop road that was closed? I can see that being a vulnerable area when trouble is high, only because it's so secluded.

Andra, you won't be sorry.

154275 said...

Your mother told you 'beauty is pain'? If you don't have Mommy issues, you should.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Haha! R, it's obvious you didn't grow up a little girl in the 60's. Put your hair in hard, pinchy rollers. We were so glad when the soft, pinchy pink rollers came out. Brush the knots out of long hair. Later, high heels and control-top panty hose. Glad I have different standards of "beauty" now!

Brenda A. said...

That's my kind of education! Been here for five and a half years and still haven't gotten over to Organ Pipe. I think we "unofficialy" drove through part of it on our way to Mexico one time, but that doesn't really count does it?

The Good Luck Duck said...

That's the way with living somewhere, isn't it Brenda? I would say your passthrough counts "officially," but there wasn't much on 85, that I recall. You could do the Monument on a day trip, if you wanted, and you wouldn't be sorry.

Bob said...

Hm, not so sure I'd want to be surrounded by that many pricks. Just sayin'.
I'm talking about the cacti! Hello!

Brenda A. said...

We have yet to be disappointed by any of the parks/monuments out here. Will have to make an effort to get out there soon!

Rubye Jack said...

These cacti photos are so beautiful they don't even look real because they're so perfect looking!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Bob, here you know right away where the pricks are! Truth in advertising.

Good idea, Brenda!

Thanks Rubye Jack - Nature makes a good model.

Soaring Sun said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I'd vacationed in Arizona about a half dozen times before ever visiting Organ Pipe, because it always seemed so far off the beaten track. Well, it is! But it's completely worth the time and distance. You captured it beautifully, Roxanne!


Another one of our favorite areas having spent our first 3 years hanging out down around Ajo & Why Arizona at different times. (Hickiwan Trails RV Park, Darby Wells. Mile Marker 2) Love the Ajo Loop drive & we have done it 3 times. Nice hike around behind that Arch you can see. Last time on that drive was Spring & the yellow mountain poppies were everywhere. One of my favorite drives for sure. 'Ajo Loop drive' in our Search Bar finds our posts about that drives through the Ajo Mountains.

Peter + Beatrix said...

Yes that Organ Pipe Nat'l Monument is beautiful. We did it too last year and I did it again while Bea was in Germany. But now you guys got to see all the flowers. I'd love to be there now.

Gaelyn said...

I spent some winter time around there so didn't get to enjoy all those marvelous cactus blooms.

Luci & Loree said...

GREAT pictures!! Organ Pipe is on my to do list :)

Sherry said...

WOW you've become a National Geographic Photographer. I can say I knew you when. You picked the perfect time to go there clealy. I'm going to get an inferiority complex with all this perfection. Will I EVER get to Arizona again??

I was there last year in May and the SUNSHINE nearly burned my eyes off. Or was it that popoular dry heat? Seriously my eyes watered all the time and half the time they wouldn't stay open. You must have brown eyes.

Donna K said...

Okay, I'm here and you're there and I'm STILL gonna say it...WOW, WOW, WOW!!! Very very nice and I LOVE your pictures from today. I love your post so much I won't even give you a hard time today. Sorry, I know you're disappointed!

TexCyn said...

Oooo, rare siamese wrens, joined at the beaks! the blooms are just beautiful. Thanks for posting them.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Thanks, Sue! And, if a body's already in Ajo ... or, if a body meets a body, coming through the Why ...

Al & Kelly, I'm going to go look for those posts. We're enjoying your old stomping grounds.

Peter, we really lucked out with our timing. Gaelyn, winter has got to be excellent here, although temps are pretty good even right now.

Thanks, L! It should be - you won't be disappointed.

Sherry, is it hard to tell the difference between "perfection" and "dumb luck"? I'm already having the problems you describe, and I'm never outdoors without my shades now. Green, which is a touch easier than blue, but still not brown.

Oh, Donna, I'm so relieved I didn't have to make good on my guarantee, because you would have been one tough customer to please! And, thank you. :D

The Good Luck Duck said...

Oh Cyn, you've just reminded me of that old Carol Burnett skit. You must know the one I mean.

Lynne said...

Wow! I'm so jealous of all those beautiful cactus blooms-- I should have stayed south a little bit longer but guess I was too much of a wimp when I saw a bunch of 90+ degree days in the forecast and I had to quickly run up to higher ground. Organ Pipe was a great drive in the winter, but wow, it sure looks amazing now in the spring! Enjoy the area. Ajo and Darby Wells Rd is great too (and free!).

The Good Luck Duck said...

Lynne, we're such complete noobs that I was sure we had missed blooms somehow. But, you know, even a stopped Duck is right twice a day.

Teri said...

Great photos! The little birds are cute.

Karen Snyder said...

My Mom subscribed to "Arizona Highways" for years when I was a kid, and I'd been contemplating a subscription of my own, but as long as you keep hanging around there I can skip it for awhile -- your photos are that good! Never saw a "crested" organ pipe before; any clue what causes that formation?

(I remember the pain that came BEFORE pantyhose! Can you say girdle?) :D

¡Vizcacha! said...

Thanks, Teri! They were hams, too, as you can see.

Karen, what a nice compliment! Best you stay away from "Arizona Highways" so you keep thinking that.

The pamphlet gave some possibilities about the cresting, but admitted they don't know. It could be a deformation due to frost (which organ pipe cacti don't tolerate well), or a mutation. They also said saguaros crest, too, but we didn't spot any.

¡Vizcacha! said...

Oh, and I did miss girdles - hurray! My mom was always thin, but wore them to hold her stockings up.

Anonymous said...

...checking for word verification...

Anonymous said...

No word verification - whew.


Anonymous said...

Teddy bear cholla are very friendly, as my husband can attest to. Some years ago, while hiking in the Superstition Mtns in AZ, a whole forest of them rushed up to greet him. It was not a pretty sight! Isn't the desert just fabulous in the spring? Your cacti and bird photos are wonderful.

Jim and Gayle said...

Organ Pipe is a spectacular place. Wish we had been there when the cacti were in bloom. Beautiful pics!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Oh no, Paint, your description makes me want to laugh - too soon? And, thank you very much.

It really is, Jim & Gayle. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Soooooo prettty! Soooooo pretty!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Nina, it's really wonderful there. Well, here, too!

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