Tucson Days 3 and 4: Desert Museum, Desert Trail Ride

13 April, L A.S.

Days 3 and 4 of my Tucson Vacation.

Yesterday, my cousins took me to the Arizona-Sonoroa Desert Museum. It’s really more of a zoo than a museum, with exhibits of many live animals of the Arizona-Sonoroa Desert. I got to see various desert birds, coatis (a raccoon type of animal,) javelina, (pig-like creatures that aren’t actually pigs at all,) coyotoes, porcupines, bobcats, skunks, tarantulas, scorpions, and a whole ton of fish. Oh, and a tarantula-hawk; look those up, they’re absolutely awful! 😀

So I loved it, great great place to visit, if you’re in Tucson, go there. They have a couple miles of walking trails that we went on, with tons of cactuses, including saguaros, prickly pears, and teddy bear cholla. I learned that saguaros live for many centuries, growing only a couple inches a year, and that they have a hard wooden skeleton inside them. Prickly pears are edible, and teddy bear chollas are the least pleasant cactus to touch, because they have these teeny tiny, ultra-sharp needles that are a real pain to remove from your skin. The weather was perfect: light overcast, cool, (low 70’s I think) and just a bit of rain. Great time. After that, my cousins took me for a drive and quick walk through Saguaro National Park West, where I saw many centuries old cactuses with many arms (they need to be centuries old to grow a few arms, so it’s cool to see how long those specimens have been there undisturbed) and also some paleoglyphs on rocks from ancient Indians.

Then today, I went trail-riding in the desert. My horse was an appaloosa named Poker Chip, our guide was named Brent, and he was a great and knowledgeable guy, also a TV actor and radio broadcaster. We went in the morning, so it wasn’t too hot yet, there was a comfortable cool breeze, and I got to see neat critters like roadrunners, rabbits, and this creepy coyote that kept following far behind us a long ways. The horses didn’t seem to care, which was good. The ride was a bit closer to civilization than would have been ideal, (pretty close to roads, bridges, and houses) but was still a great southwest desert trailriding experience! Definitely felt nostalgic of the Old Wild West, at least as portrayed in movies. The stable we went to, Pantano Stables, was great and is moving to a better location (still near Tucson) soon. I recommend them if you visit the area. Someday soon, I’ll come back and do a longer, wilder ride and camp over a couple nights. The beauty of the nature around Tucson has definitely grown on me. As long as it’s not a time of day when it’s unbearably hot, the wide open blue skies, the rocky mountains all around in the distance, the flowering cactuses (this time of year) and interesting plant and animal life are just great to see and experience. And oh, I haven’t seen a wild tarantula yet, but I’ve seen their holes. The way most of them hunt here is they have little holes with web in front of them, and then when something touches the web they jump out and grab it. I could probably see a tarantula if I was brave and wanted to poke my finger around…

Good days, good days here. Progress on my novel is slow but sure, by the way, it will be released before Halloween.


-G.R. Wilson

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