Friday, November 7, 2008

Tucson Vistas

For the benefit of our followers that have not spent time in the Tucson area, I'll show a few of the items Melinda and I saw today. While driving around on some errands, I took her the "long way" to show her a few vistas and better acquaint her with some of the roads around here.

According to the evening weather, today was exactly average - a beauty of a day, not a cloud in the sky, high temperature of 75 degrees. Many have asked why the evening news wastes 5 minutes on the weather when it is pretty much the same every day. In the desert southwest we really are cut off from the weather systems that effect most of the rest of the country, resulting in dry, clear weather most of the time. But at various times of the year, we can get weather disruptions from 3 different directions - warm wet weather from the SW through the fall and winter, cold winter storms from the NW and the bulk of our wetness from our monsoonal flow from the SE in summer. Our weather can be boring for weeks at a time, but it can get exciting too!

Anyway, I'm getting distracted here - we were driving up in the foothills of the Catalina mountains on the north side of Tucson. The image here is looking up Pima Canyon, a popular hiking area, the first part of which goes through private land because of development. Easily seen is how numerous the saguaro cacti are in the area. While they survive nearly throughout the SW half of the state, they thrive in the Tucson area. Two expanses of land on the eastern and western edges of Tucson define Saguaro National Park.

The cacti are amazing creations, yet it is a wonder they exist at all. If the temperature stays below freezing too long, they die. If it rains too much, they die. Hundreds per year are killed by lightning strikes. These simple variables defines where they can survive. The vertical accordion-type grooves expand and contract with wet or dry spells of weather, and while they do not store water like a tank, a reasonably sized saguaro 30 feet high can weigh several tons. And while the plants are well protected by spines, several species of birds nest in the interiors and many animals depend on the plants for nectar and feed on the fruit, including Native Americans. I'm sure we'll return to post on these again.

1 comment:

Tuguldur said...

hehe, weird shape on the second picture :))