Northern Arizona and Utah

Just over a week ago, while my father was visiting, we took a road trip to the Grand Canyon and the Arizona-Utah state line. I’ve waited years to see the Grand Canyon and it was wonderful to be able to see it with my dad and my dog, who came along for the ride.

A few helpful notes: Since my dad is a senior citizen we got in for a mere $10. He also got the national parks pass for that amount, which will get him into national parks for the rest of his life. Also, dogs are welcome in the park but I can imagine it being impractical if we were there in the tourist high season. Dogs are only allowed on the rim trail (not into the canyon), and while the rim trail offers more than enough for the first-time visitor to see it can get crowded near major vistas and high-traffic areas.

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We spent a few hours at the canyon hiking and taking pictures. We also took a scenic drive along the rim that included several vistas. Without a doubt, I can say this is one of the few places in the world I’ve visited that I wish everyone could see. It is unbelievable. If I had been on my own, I would be off on the trails and down into the canyon. Maybe another time.

My dad had arranged to stay the night in Page, AZ. Frankly, I’m not sure why because that is quite far away. There are many hotels near the canyon… but driving to Page did allow us to see some of the Navajo reservation and to enjoy Navajo blue corn mush with our breakfast buffet.

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Just outside of Page is Horseshoe Bend, which is a beautiful sight. This site is much-photographed, but I was not aware that it was over 100 miles away from the Grand Canyon. The river sure gets around. (Joke.)

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We got all the way to the Utah state line and just over it. I walked my dog into Utah and he almost immediately got a pricker in his paw. That’s when we realized Utah is not the place for us.

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This road into Utah is an adventure that will have to wait for another day.

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National Public Gardens Day

Did you know that today is National Public Gardens Day today? Here in Tucson, that meant free admission to two of our local public gardens: The Tucson Botanical Gardens and Tohono Chul Park. I decided to take a trip to the Botanical Gardens because they are close to my house and I’ve never been. Here are some fun pics from my visit.

A Mexican fan palm is pictured above. Below is the Australian red river gum tree, probably my favorite of the entire garden.

Aussie imports seem to grow well in the Sonoran Desert–there were several in the gardens and an array of Australian plants to the north side of the parking lot. Here is a Forman eucalyptus tree that was also on display.

There were also several citrus trees, including the grapefruit.

In addition to the other animals I saw in the gardens–rabbits, birds, and lizards–the spring blooms put butterflies in the mood for love. Can you spot the just-born caterpillar on this passion flower plant?

A saguaro cactus joins in the loving spirit, embracing a tree.

Straightneck squash was among the plants growing in the various ramadas, where visitors can sit in shade and enjoy the gardens. I love the colors of this plant.

The gardens also include a nod to the area’s Native American heritage. A traditional garden mimics the crops and farming techniques of the Hohokam people, a population whose culture and traditions died out before the Europeans arrived in the Americas. Exhibits celebrating the Tohono O’odham people, a tribe that still lives in the area, include a reproduced roundhouse and several plants used in crafts like basketmaking. The soaptree yucca is pictured here.

A desert willow was also flowering today, and made a nice shot.

The Tucson Botanical Gardens made for a great trip, and I spent about 90 minutes touring around and taking pictures. If you were a real plant or birdwatching aficionado, you could certainly stay longer. There is also a seasonal butterfly garden that closed at the end of April; I was sad to miss that but there were still plenty of butterflies out all around the gardens. I even saw one in the process of laying its eggs on the passion flower pictured above. Magical to watch life happening!

Normally priced admission to the gardens is $8. They also do special “dog days” in summer, lectures throughout the year, and luminaria nights in winter. Check the web site for details. While you’re reading, you can also check out the back story of the garden and the Porter Family, who made this place possible by opening their home to the public. A mosaic honors their family history, and their gift to the city. This was a true urban oasis and I hope to go back some time.