First Visit to Catalina State Park

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On Saturday, since it had cooled down to a mere 80 degrees here in Arizona, we visited Catalina State Park for the first time. A day pass cost $7 per car. There are two campgrounds, a picnic area, group areas, and several hiking trails.

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We chose the Romero Ruins trail first. We climbed around 80 steps to reach the top which took us on a loop.

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There we saw the remains of the Romero ranch which was on top of and next to the base of an Hohokam village.

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The Hohokam village dates back to 500 A.D. approx. while the Romero homestead was from the 1800’s.

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After our first hike, we drove to a picnic area for some lunch. Then Marcus and I hiked the Birding trail, which was a one mile loop. This trail was more forested and we saw a lot of big black beetles, which I did not take any photos of because beetles creep me out!

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Again there were several stairs to climb and descend, just in a more wooded setting.

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But above the stairs, this was what it opened up to, more hot dry desert. (Not very autumn-like! For those of you who are experiencing a true autumn, I envy you!)

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At one point on both trails, we crossed a wash. Definitely don’t want to be caught in one of these during a flash flood!

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Next time we’ll take on one of the longer, more challenging trails, but this was a great first visit for us, and these are my first official photos on my new camera which my generous husband gave me for my birthday (which was on Friday). I’m excited to play with the different features and especially to try out my new macro lens, which I thought I’d save for another day at Tohono Chul. ♥ Thanks for reading!

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Our First Bloom Night

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Here in Arizona there is an amazing cactus flower called the Peniocereus greggi, also known as the Queen of the Night.

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What is special about this flower is that it only blooms once a year, after sundown. All of the flowers in one area bloom at the same time and for the collection at Tohono Chul, bloom night this year was Saturday, June 18th.

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And this year, we were there to experience our first bloom night.

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The desert trail was lined with paper candle lanterns.

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Another interesting fact about this flower is that it only has one pollinator: the Hawk moth.
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It was a lovely evening walking around the desert to admire and photograph this unique flower. There were hundreds of people there so we were glad we arrived early. We stayed for two hours and then left when the crowds were becoming a bit much for us, although everyone was patient and courteous. Our tips for this event- Come early, wear good walking shoes (closed toed), watch out for cactus on the side of the trail (I brushed up against one and received a few scratches on my leg), bring your camera and know your settings, bring a flashlight (Marcus wore a headlamp) and if you’re only using a camera phone, use a flashlight to illuminate the flower when you take a picture at night.

Our First Visit to Sabino Canyon

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Sabino Canyon is located in southeastern Arizona and is part of the Coronado National Forest. We braved the soaring temps here in Tucson and visited Sabino Canyon a couple weekends ago, for the first time. We only stayed for a few hours, because the heat was exhausting! But that was enough time to give us a feel for this recreation area.

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We took the Sabino Canyon trail shuttle tour, which was a ride on a tram with nine stops altogether and narration on the way up (and the driver just chatting away on the way back). I wish I had thought to take outside pictures of the shuttle, but the above pic shows the back of the tram (the uncovered part- poor riders!) and a bridge we’d just gone over.

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We rode all the way to stop 9, got out and did a little hiking on a nearby trail. Each stop offers different trails to hike, and one or two stops offer some natural pools for wading and swimming (we didn’t try those out, but there were plenty of families enjoying the water). Some, but not all stops offer restroom facilities and water fountains.

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We ended up walking down the paved main road to stop 8 to check out the pools. Then we climbed back on the tram and rode it back to the visitor center and parking lot.

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So that was our first visit to Sabino Canyon. Just a taste really, but we plan to visit again at the end of summer when it’s not so hot (and we’re back from Utah). Thanks for reading!