Tuesday, April 13, 2010
It is hard to believe we've been in Arizona for three days already! We missed a big storm back home, and have had nothing but sunshine here.
We took the boys swimming on Sunday, and then had a barbecue so we could meet my sister's friends for the first time. Sadly, a detour in L.A. led to us missing her performance by 15 minutes on Saturday night! So, the band played for us around the fire pit in exchange for S'mores, which was sweet.
Yesterday, we drove out into the Sonoran desert to see it in full bloom after the early spring rains and warm weather. My sister has lived here for eight years, and has never seen it more beautiful than now. So, it is a huge treat to be here this week.
We took the boys to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a world-renowned natural history museum, zoo and botanical garden (for those back at home, it's sort of a really fancy, huge CALM). The grounds were covered in the same desert wildflowers, cacti and trees as the surrounding preserve.
The boys were amazed by all the giant cacti -- saguaro -- which we drove past on our way to the museum, many of which are over a hundred years old. In the picture below, it shows the very slow beginning growth of a saguaro, which takes 15 years to grow to the height of one foot!
We got to see a ringtail, a brown pelican, and a skunk up close in a museum show about habitats and local species. The docent also released two military macaws to fly around the auditorium at full speed -- and one flew so low he brushed my head with his wing! Then he perched himself on the back of a seat to show off his fancy colors!
Cactus wrens and other natives can be heard all over the pollination gardens, but the museum also has two aviaries. The hummingbird aviary is home to seven different species of hummingbirds, which flit and fly from tree to tree, teasing all the photographers attempting to shoot them!
The other aviary housed Gambel's quail, mourning doves, curved-bill thrashers, finches, pyrrhuloxias (a type of cardinal), mockingbirds, robins and ducks. The birds are so used to people, they'll come within inches of the path or sit on branches a foot from your head -- just don't stand directly beneath them or you'll get a messy souvenir!
The boys love learning the exact names of each species. :)
Many of the animals were taking their afternoon naps. We peeked at the sleeping beavers, bobcats and ocelots, and peered over a canyons at the mountain lions, hiding in the shade of their naturalistic habitats.
In the underground exhibit, a gila monster and snake shared a burrow, while the scorpions stayed cool under their rocks.
We couldn't stop for a nap, but we did take an ice cream break!
The bighorn sheep didn't seem to mind the bright sun and heat, and even a screech owl was awake for us, perched in the shade of a saguaro.
Thank you, Auntie Brookie, for taking us to the desert museum!