Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chuckwallas and more....

T and I are getting our traveling done for the year in a period of one month, it seems. A conference here, a conference there. The latest of which was in Phoenix.

I'm not always at my ease in a big city - but given everything downtown Phoenix wasn't so bad. It never really felt crowded. There was alot of sunshine (well, ya, it's Arizona). There were some pretty good places to eat, a history museum, science center, etc. So, that was fine. But, the highlights of the trip for me had nothing to do with the urban center (surprised? no?).

We saw a Chuckwalla Lizard.


On the last day, we asked for suggestions of a park or some such thing we could get to within a reasonable drive of Phoenix. And, after a short drive, arrived at White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Chalk one up for the people who suggested it and for us taking the time to go there.

The weather was cooler than it had been (around 55 degrees) when we got there - which made for better hiking weather. It also encouraged the wildlife to be out. Cacti were just beginning to bloom and several other plants were in full bloom. We figure the place looks quite different after a few months baking in 100 degree heat (ya think?). There were several birds, some butterflies, ground squirrels (we'd call them chipmunks), chameleons, vultures (ok, ya, they're birds too) and a variety of insects to observe. In short, it's a vastly different environment than the one we're used to. Which, of course, made it fascinating.

We watched a chipmunk eat a cactus flower until more hikers scared it away. Viewed a Gila Woodpecker as it hopped around a saguaro cactus and found a Chuckwalla Lizard that we thought was a Gila Monster sunning itself on a piece of granite. And, I had said I wanted to see a Gila Monster as soon as we saw it on a list of wildlife that could be found in the park. We decided that we didn't want to hope to see a mountain lion (probably a good choice).

The park was wonderful - made us regret not bringing a camera. But, maybe we'll remember it better since we concentrated on just observing and enjoying the place.

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