A Saguaro Cactus standing
at "attention" with its arms in the
"I surrender" pose.   
     We are now in Tucson, Arizona on the Sonora Desert.  The Sonora Desert stretches from Mexico into southern Arizona and California and, for a desert, is full of beautiful green vegetation.  The fun part about life in this desert is that it will either eat you (cougars & javelinas), bite you (snakes & tarantulas), sting you (Africanized killer bees & scorpions), prick you (cacti), or just scratch you to shreds (creosote bush).
The Saguaros creep up a mountainside.
The Saguaros can create some bizarre forms.
     The Sonora Desert is the home of the Saguaro Cactus.  These sentinels of the desert stand up to 60' tall, can live up to 200 years, and no, they do not contain a potable water reservoir.  These fantastic cacti only exist on the Sonora Desert and fill the desert floor and mountains by the tens of thousands.
The Saguaros fill up the desert.
The "Crested Saguaro Cactus" is a rare find.
If Nancy leaned any closer she would have been skewered.
     Neither Nancy nor I had ever seen a Saguaro and we were instantly captivated by their beauty. Nancy was so enthralled by her first sighting that she couldn't help but charge off into the desert to collect her photos.  While Nancy was trying to frame the perfect shot I was assisting somebody filling our rig with propane.  All of a sudden I saw Nancy hobbling around the side of the car yelling something at me.  Even though she was only 50' away I could not hear what she was saying over the din of the propane fill-up.  Finally, I noticed that she was sort of jumping toward me with her left leg held straight forward.  She looked like the guys on the Grateful Dead's "Keep on Truckin'" poster (1970's).  Then I noticed cute, furry, white, fluff balls attached to her leather boots.  Welcome to the Cholla Cactus (also known as the "jumping cactus" due to its propensity to seemingly jump onto your body to give you a good piercing).  These things discharge balls of 2" steel strength needles.  They easily penetrated Nancy's leather boots and sunk their pointed ends into Nancy's skin.  Fortunately, the guy who pumped the propane knew how to handle the problem and using large pliers was able to remove the pin-balls and then, using the pliers, he removed the individual needles.  I later learned (the hard way) that pulling out the individual needles with bare hand results in tiny splinter-like slivers also piercing your skin.  What fun.
The "Teddy Bear Cholla Cacti" is one of my favorites.
From a distance they look so soft and cuddly; but up close
they can't wait to drive needles into your body.
     Just outside of Tucson we found the best campground.  At first we were disappointed as we felt a little like sardines, but I discovered that the campground abutted Tucson Mountain Park which is a fantastic desert mountain biking area.  Nancy has been able to jump into her artwork with a vengeance, sell her stuff at a campground fair, and participate in line-dancing.  Also, 3-4 nights a week the campground brings in some of the top musicians and entertainers in the area.  This campground rocks!
This high school Mariachi Band entertained us one night.
We have been entertained by a bluegrass band, a cowboy swing band, a blues band, and a drag queen.
     Tucson and the surrounding area is amazing.  Tucson sits in a valley below towering, jagged mountains.  It is the home of Saguaro National Park, the University of Arizona, it is rich with western history, and maintains a thriving art community.  Daytime temperatures are in the 70's with a strong mid-day sun.  This is an ideal place to live for approximately 8 months until the summertime temperatures rise into the high 110's.  Yikes!!!
I scared up a hawk on an early morning solo ride.
We have a big ole owl living right in our campground.
We also have rattlesnakes in our campground.
My mountain biking friend, Mark, is the guy responsible for
the capture and relocation of the rattlers.  
Mission San Xavier Del Bac, Tucson, AZ
     November must be national flat tire month and I am now glad December is here.  November yielded a flat tire on the car, a flat tire on the rig at 60+ mph, and 2 flat tires on my mountain bike. Try putting air into a truck size tire inches from the side of I-10 (a 75 mph super-highway).  I was almost completely hidden under the rig with my air compressor trying to fill the tire to avoid being hit by a vehicle.  I sent Nancy down the road to try to warn the motorists and get them to slow down. Nancy's waiving and gesturing didn't seem to help and she would not take my suggestion that standing out in the middle of the road might work.  She never listens to me.  Perhaps I need to discuss this topic in greater detail with "The RV Shrink."
Nancy is hiding behind a rather prolific Prickly Pear Cactus.
The entire Sonora Desert looks like a giant cactus garden!
     This place has me totally hooked on mountain biking; but the dangers of the desert are really magnified when speeding down a trail where 1,000's of cacti are inches from the edge of the trail laying in wait for a likely victim.  So far I have been able to avoid any direst contact with these prickly things, but every once in a while one just has to reach out and grab my leg, hand or arm. They like it best when they can dive into my shoe.  Ouch!  I have yet to return from a ride without at least one bloody appendage.

Above are some of the fun cacti which line the entire length of the mountain bike trails here.
There are 2 simple rules of mountain biking: 1) Don't fall & 2) Stay on the trail!
     Mountain biking has been very good to me.  So far, I broke my old bike and had to buy a new one. My first trip out with the new bike was a blast.  Let's see...the first thing that happened was my seat loosened and tipped up to give me a very unpleasant jolt to my lower region.  Then my handlebar also loosened leaving me with no steering ability.  Next I got a flat, then I got another flat. Fortunately, I was with a group of experienced bikers and their help got me through these issues.  So for pay-back I decided to entertain them by biking off a 2' drop to the base of a large rock which stopped me dead in my track.  This allowed me to play "Superman" over my handle bars landing face first in a pile of rocks while the rear end of my bike continued on its merry way and smashed straight down onto my helmet and pinned me to the ground.  The really fun part was that, while landing on me, the bike managed to hook into my backpack and attached itself to my body.  So there I laid, facedown and spread eagled with a brand new bike across my back and unable to get up.  Good thing I was with friends.  Their only comment was wishing they had a helmet camera for U-Tube.
     Sorry for the long post, but we really are having a lot of fun here!


  1. Looks like you are having fun, but you need to be careful:)


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