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IMAGES OF ARIZONA

March 6, 2011

 

Song: "Call of the Wild" composed and sung by Rusty Richards.

 

  Mission San Xavier del Bac

  Multicoloured Prickly Pear

  Crested Saguaro

  Kitt Peak National Observatory

  West Saguaro National Park

  Organ Pipe National Monument

  Papago basket maker

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Tucson

 

My first orange picked off a tree here in Tucson. (My purse is strapped around my waist under my jacket.)

 

        Tucson is a very old city in a very new state. (Arizona reached statehood in 1912.) "Old Pueblo", as residents like to call it, has seen a succession of civilizations - Indians, Spaniards, Mexicans, pioneers and now nearly a million modern Americans.

 

Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson

 

 

Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

San Xavier del Bac, "White Dove of the Desert"

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

 

The site of this mission was an Indian village called Bac. Two explanations have been given for the unfinished tower on the right:

1) that the Spaniards laid a heavy tax on completed churches and so the mission was never finished, or

2) that the mission's architect was killed in a fall from one of the belfries and in his memory a belfry was left incomplete.

The original mission was located two miles north of the present site. Apaches destroyed it and the Franciscans built the present mission in the late 18th century. The architecture is a mix of Moorish, Byzantine and late Mexican. (Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

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A statue of St. Francis Xavier rises above the mail altar. Two wooden lions standing on the sides of the chancel rail, representing the Lions of Castile, honour the reigning Spanish family of the late 18th century. Almost every square foot of the interior surface is decorated with statuary or painting.

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

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Ribs from dead saguaros were used as ceiling material.

(Drake photo)

 

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Fish-hook Barrel Cactus

 

Standing in front of the Drake Saguaro

 

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

Looking down from the hill.

(Drake photo)

 

 

 

Kitt Peak National Observatory

We didn't go up, although it was tempting. Kitt Peak is in the Quinlan Mountains, 6875 feet above the desert floor in the middle of the 3 million acre Papago Indian Reservation and contains the McMath solar telescope and the dome-shaped Mayall, 19 stories high. The Mayall's 156-inch mirror is so powerful that astronomers could read a newspaper in the New York Times building - given the right conditions, of course.

 

(Drake photo)

 

Mayall telescope

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

This helicopter was just a speck in the sky.

(Drake photo)

 

 

 

 

 

West Saguaro National Park

 

Fields of Teddy Bear cholla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

 

(Drake photo)

 

Jumping cholla

(Drake photo)

 

One Arizona writer describes Teddy Bear cholla thus:

 

        The jumping cholla is one of the great beauties of desert vegetation and it is a true devil. Its trunk is a tube of intricately woven wooden mesh, very strong and very light, often found transformed into ugly lamps in curio shops. Above the cholla's trunk it produces soft, fleshy green segments, each connected to the one before it by means of a delicate joint, and each covered with barbed spines. When you brush against the plant, even ever so lightly, the spines pierce flesh and the barbs hold them in place. As you pull back or move away, the joint neatly disconnects and the entire fleshy segment remains embedded in its victim - in this case, you. Only the slightest contact is required. These large green spiny monsters seem to jump on you and hang on.

        But this is only the beginning. The subtle lengths to which this plant will go in order to do you bodily harm are truly insidious and diabolical. If you should step on one of the fleshy segments which has already fallen on the ground, and they often cover the ground around a plant in great profusion, you will squash it, exposing its slimy, slick inner pulp. Its spines will often attach the segment lightly to the sole of your shoe. As you take the next step and your foot comes up behind you, the upward thrust of your foot will cause the spines to dislodge and the lubrication of the slimy inner pulp will aid the segment in sliding easily over the sole of your shoe. The entire segment will fly up behind you, or jump up behind you, and impale you in the back of the lower leg, penetrating even heavy trousers.

        When this happens, if you don't have a comb with you, you can be in considerable trouble. If you try to dislodge the segment with your hand, you will find that your hand is immediately attached to the back of your leg by means of the cholla segment, leaving you bent over in an awkward position while you slowly fry in the sun. The thing to do, while you still have at least one hand free to do it with, is to slide a comb between your flesh and the cholla segment and lift it away with one quick, hideously painful jerk. And it's a good idea to do this as quickly as possible because the cholla still has one more card to play in its diabolical game. Poison. It is the only cactus whose spines are coated with a slightly toxic substance which can cause severe festering and has been known to cripple horses when the spines are not removed soon enough.

        And yet the jumping cactus is a beautiful thing, especially when seen as I am seeing them now, from a safe distance. Even more so when seen in the moonlight. They are about the height of a person, and moonlight turns the long pale spines which cover their tops to platinum blond. They look like many statuesque 1930s starlets standing out there waiting to be discovered. But drive on, drive on! To touch the glamorous creature even once is to know pain and learn the cruelty of a truly ruthless beauty. (Richard Shelton, "Going Back to Bisbee" 1992.

 

 

 

Crested Saguaro

(Drake photo)

 

Crested Saguaro

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

Hedgehog cactus grow in tight little clumps

(Drake photo)

 

 

 

(Drake photo)

 

 

Mary Pablo, Papago basket weaver

(Drake photo)

 

 

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A pair of house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) watching us from the top of that huge cactus.

 

Milton's beautiful camera zooms in...

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

...and in.  Really watching us!

 

(Drake photo)

This is a fine picture.

 

(Drake photo)

The organ pipe cactus.

 

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Ocotillo nearly in bloom

 

 

Dateland

 

 

 

Date palm trees

 

Date palm trees

 

Date palm trees

 

 

(Drake photo)

 

(Drake photo)

 

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And so ends another perfect day.

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