Hmmmmmm…where should we go?
This was the big question while I was visiting my mom recently in Tucson, Az. She was staying at the military campground at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, close enough for me to swing by and hang with her for a few days. (A few days together, in separate RV’s is about all we can handle of each other!)
After a little research and a few accidental selfies, we finally decided on seeing the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum which is located an easy 30-minute drive West of Tucson. This place had stellar ratings on TripAdvisor. We ventured over early (for us) one morning to check it out. We were NOT disappointed in our choice!
First of all, the drive to the museum takes you through the Saguaro (Pronounced Sue-ARE-a. I know. It makes no sense) National park which is absolutely stunning, full of all shapes and sizes of cacti. (This is not the ideal place to walk your dog.)
You will be on your feet all day if you visit this place. I do recommend coming early so you have plenty of time to meander. The museum is quite large with two miles of walking paths full of discovery.
However, we did not walk together. Upon arrival, it took only about 10 seconds to realize we weren’t going to be happy trying to negotiate which way to go, when to stop and look at something, etc, so we parted ways and almost immediately, all was right with our worlds. Why compromise when you can just split up then come back together later? (We are totally fine with this. Sometimes we even DRIVE separate cars to the same destination. Yes, we know. It’s a little crazy, but it’s how we roll. It works.)
The walking paths lead me through gardens, exhibits, animal attractions and aquariums. Awesome plant life filled every corner of my vision.
They have snakes, spiders, lizards and more desert creepers. I did not feel inclined to photograph many of them.
We learned a lot about the desert and the history of the area. There were docents all over the place ready to offer up extra information about the exhibits.
They also had multiple daily live exhibits scattered around the museum where a docent would have a particular desert animal out of its enclosure, giving a live, interactive talk about the creature. I didn’t attend many but I did get to see a Box Turtle and a Western Screech Owl. The docents were quite informative. This owl spit up a pellet during the demonstration!
(A pellet is a hard rock-like mass of the things the owl cannot digest of what it eats.)
Mom and I most enjoyed the cacti garden and the hummingbird exhibit.
Because it is spring here, there were already 7 new nests in the hummingbird aviary.
Competition for space and food was fierce in the aviary. In the wild, Hummingbirds are naturally aggressive and territorial. In captivity, the aggression seemed to be off the charts due to the close proximity the birds were forced to be in. There were seven active nests in the enclosure and a few more were in the making.
One little hummingbird wanted desperately to build a nest at waist level right where it could be bumped by unsuspecting passers-by or grabbed by kid’s hands. The volunteers had removed it twice to encourage her to nest elsewhere but she kept re-building. I sat for a while watching her come and go to her little partially made nursery.
Of course, I am not a fan of keeping animals in captivity. I hope that the animals that they had there were not able to live in the wild for whatever reason. They had a black bear, a mountain lion, Mexican Wolves and a deer, among others. The enclosures were natural looking but the inhabitants certainly would prefer to live free if given the chance.
The museum gives the animals things to challenge them mentally on a daily basis and they make it as comfortable and natural looking as possible. There are no cages, the areas in which they live are open.
The museum offered a huge amount of information and many learning opportunities. We spent a good 6 hours there and could have stayed longer, had our bodies not given out! Mom did great. I can’t believe she was on her feet for that long!
On the way out, we drove through the Gilbert Ray campground located in the Saguaro National Park as it came highly recommended by my friends of Tales From The Mutiny. It was stunning, almost looking like it was landscaped with the cacti. (It wasn’t of course, but the density of the cacti was incredible and gorgeous.)
I don’t know that I could stay at this campground, as I would have to keep an eagle eye on the girls, even if they were on a leash. The cacti are beautiful, but they are extremely defensive. They are little backstabbers, ready to fight at the littlest mistake of getting too close to the barbed tentacles that they sport. Trixie has already had one bad encounter with the Cholla cactus, and she’s decided that she’s retired from the Cholla boxing world.
After the long day of exploring, mom and I headed back to our separate little homes and ingested the incredible things we had taken in at the museum. Alone, in our own little RV’s of course. Heaven on Earth!