Prickly shit and dangerous reptiles. Here the saguaro cacti grow over 50 ft high and live for 250 years if they can reach the end of their life-cycle. The saguaro is a slow growing thing. It takes 10 years for it to be a few inches high, and another 10 to reach a foot. Then at an adolescence age of 50, it can start growing arms. Until that time it's merely a green stump with prickers on it.
This random ass space set aside for cactus is split into two divisions. There are an east and west section divided by the great city of Tuscon. The park on the east side is the smallest section and the visitor center was closed when we arrived. No big deal. Just download the map from NPS and head on your way. We picked out an easy hike that was only a mile long. No reason for us to sweat to death in the 90° Arizona sun. The road turned from pavement to gravel. An unexpected twist we didn't anticipate. We've been on dirt roads in national parks quite a bit, but not one that is considered the main route to the parks attractions.
A mile of graded gravel brought us up to the first hike of the day. Weaving in and out of cactus we marched forward towards the top of a vista point. On the way our eyes were peeled for rattlesnakes, scorpions, and Gila monsters. It's bad enough the desert is constantly trying to dehydrate and stab you. Then it throws poisonous critters in for good measure.
Moving on to the next spot is a hike to the petroglyphs. The park has no idea who made these or when. It's hypothesized that native americans made these images somewhere between 300-3000 years ago. Not the most accurate guess if you ask me. So it's up to us to hike up there and see what all the huff is about. It's an easy climb with little elevation change. The path is well marked and clear of any potential stabby things. Upon our arrival we can see the petroglyphs on the rocks. Theres just a sign stating please don't climb on the stones and ruin our crap. That's easy enough to follow for most people. For some reason there are always the douchebags who think the rules don't apply to them. Some of the rocks have graffitti and are scratched over with names. Do me a favor. If you ever see some piece of trash doing this just push them into a cactus.
The hike back to Shirly gives us something else to stare out. This dry rotting cactus carcus completes the tutorial of the day. Inside is the tubular water delivery system and the guts that go with it.
Driving home we can't help but snap a picture of a road sign in kilometers. Highway 19 in Tuscon is the only city in the country to have this. Some sort of short lived experiment that failed.
Enough for today. It's finally time to kick back and relax in the Casino parking lot. One of my favorite shows is on PBS and I couldn't be happier. TV can be hard to come by for us. On this episode of Antiques Roadshow more people bring worthless crap to be told it's worth way more than they will ever sell it for. Priceless.