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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Southeast Arizona’s Saguaro National Park

April 19th, 2012 · No Comments

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The saguaro is an iconic symbol of the Southwest. The largest cacti we have, they can reach 50 feet and weight 16,000 pounds or more, dwarfing every other living thing in the desert.

At the beginning of our visit to Southeast Arizona, Sharon and I returned half way to Tucson from our first stop at La Posta Quemada Ranch in Colossal Cave Mountain Park to Saguaro National Park. We started our visit to the park’s east district on the Cactus Forest Loop Drive.

Abundant Saguaro in Saguaro National Park

Abundant Saguaro in Saguaro National Park

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A Different Cactus in Bloom

A Different Cactus in Bloom

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Nopal Cactus in Bloom

Nopal Cactus in Bloom

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Turkey Vultures are what we almost always saw when we looked up for flying raptors. They are usually too far above for good photography, but this one was a little closer.

A Turkey Vulture Soars Overhead

A Turkey Vulture Soars Overhead

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This little bird was a lot closer and seems to be ready to attack me or my camera.

An Attack Bird?

An Attack Bird?

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As we hiked along the Douglas Spring Trail daylight had waned around 7 p.m. before we saw one of the birds I most wanted to photograph in Southeast Arizona. A long-legged bird in the cuckoo family, this Greater Roadrunner has an exceptionally long tail.

The roadrunner reminds me of my youth, when I still went to movie theaters and they still showed cartoons before the main feature. I must have seen dozens of Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons of “Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner” and always appreciated how the roadrunner outsmarted the coyote. We can see many of these on the Internet now, including the first one, “Fast and Furry-out,” now available in a high resolution movie on YouTube. The desert scenery in this 1949 cartoon is more realistic than those that came later.

A Real Greater Roadrunner Chased by Me Instead of Wile E. Coyote

A Real Greater Roadrunner Chased by Me Instead of Wile E. Coyote

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Arizona has three national parks, including Grand Canyon in the north and Petrified Forest in the east, both of which I had been to before. I especially wanted to visit Saguaro National Park in the south of the state. While I don’t have a life lists of birds that I have seen, I do have one of the American national parks that I have experienced. Counting Saguaro, I have now visited 37 of our 58 national parks.

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