Friday, June 29, 2007

Desert beauty

Before I moved to Arizona, I had a huge misconception about what the natural environment would be like. Even as I was making my way here down I-5, I was preparing myself for a scene of barren wasteland......nothing but brownness and boring. When I got here, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Sonoran Desert, home of the Saguaro cactus, is a relatively green environment. Now it's no Washington with the old growth forests and greenery as far as your eyes can see (how I miss that!), but it definitely isn't the dustbowl that I pictured after watching those Wild West movies (we ARE very close to Tombstone though!). So to correct any misconceptions about how this beautiful part of the U.S. is, I've posted some pictures that I've taken during my time here. I find that I am *very* obsessed with sunrises and sunsets, especially because these occur over mountains (no, it isn't flat here either). I guess now that I mention it, most of these pictures are of just that! So here goes the sharing!

Here are the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The first time I saw them, I thought they were so ugly because I was comparing them to the tall, jagged, snow-covered ones from home. As time has worn on, I've come to find them beautiful, especially when the sun casts a shadow over them in the late afternoon as shown here. This picture is taken from the Costco parking lot.

So after months of living here, Jon and I decided to venture up to Mt. Lemmon in the Catalinas. I was very surprised to find this place so close to town. As soon as we were out of town, we ventured up Catalina Highway (very steep, straight shot up), paid our $5 fee to venture up further and enjoyed the scenery. Once you reach a certain elevation, you start to notice the Saguaros on the hillsides. This is on our way up Catalina Highway with tons of Saguaros posing for a picture.

Here is a view from Catalina Highway down onto Tucson. These hills are actually prime location for luxury mansions here. We passed many along the way. You can see an example of one (and it's WAY ridiculous price) here. When I asked one of my co-workers what one would do for a job in Tucson to be able to afford something so extravagant, she said that a lot of these people are retirees from California who bring all their California money to this Arizona market (relatively *very* cheap!).

Just another pretty picture on the way up to Mt. Lemmon. These cool rock formations were all over the place once we reached the higher elevations. They almost look hand carved!

And here is one last landscape shot. I took this picture at the Desert Museum, which operates in collaboration between Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. When I saw signs for this place on I-10, I thought it would be such a bore. I mean, what's supposed to be included in a desert museum anyways? I was mistaken, of course, and am in love with this place. It's pretty much a zoo, complete with animal exhibits and a hummingbird room. Most of the exhibits are outside, which is why I was happy that we visited in the winter. Here is more information about this beautiful place.

And now on to my sunset/sunrise pictures!

This one is by far my favorite. Have you ever seen those regional southwest ceramic vases and plates for sale? They almost always have some sort of sunset picture painted on them. I always thought these paintings were beautiful, but I never expected them to be such accurate depictions of what really happens in the desert. I've encounterd the most stunning sunrises and sunsets herepainted onto the canvas of they sky! I call this picture "painted sky."

This shot is actually from this morning. In case you're interested, I got up at 4:30 this morning so that I could get to work by 6:30. I forgot to mention that I work in Tucson, while living in Sierra Vista.....frustratingly a 75 mile drive one way! At least I get to witness a lot of sunrises and sunsets on these drives! This picture if off Hwy 90 kind of close to Sierra Vista, obviously looking east. One of these days, I swear I'm going to get in a car accident because I am constantly drooling over the impending sunrise even while I'm driving. To be honest, I actually took this picture while driving....but don't worry, I only took my eyes off the road for a second, blindly pointed the camera, and shot. Turned out really well!

And here is one of our famous sunsets. I just took a break from this blog to watch yet another beautiful sunset. This picture is taken from my backyard.

These last two pictures are also very recent. The one on top is from Wednesday night and the one on the bottom is from Thursday night. Arizonans know that when they start to see afternoon/evening thunderstorms and downpours such as these, that the monsoon season is just around the corner. These pictures are in Sierra Vista. Tucson hasn't seen much clouds yet. Bring on the monsoons!


raecatherine said...

What lovely pictures! I remember visiting Arizona when I was 12 and marveling at those sunsets. Keep the desert pics coming.

La Arana Peruana said...

great to hear from you! I've bookmarked your blog, along with Cheryl's and Drea's. All your hiking posts make me homesick!

Cheryl and Greg Morton said...