Arizona Trip – Day 1

To say I was excited for this trip would be a great understatement. But there was a bit to do last night before we could leave: mow the lawn, clean the house for the pet sitter, and of course, pack. By the time 10 o’ clock rolled around, we were exhausted and still not done the ‘chores’. And the oppressive temperatures didn’t help, either. So, I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to get a jump on the remaining tasks before our 6am flight. Shari was already up and doing stuff, so we both pitched in so we could have plenty of time to park and get to the gate. It didn’t work – we were five minutes too late and missed our flight, but were lucky enough to get on another only 1.5 hours later, which messed up my plans a bit but was a minor set back in the grand scheme of things.

Once we got there, we found our hotel and checked in. Our hotel – a Super8 – was interesting. It was mostly clean but had some significant flaws (ripped wall paper, cracked sink and sputtering showerhead), but for $42, it was cheap and convenient. For the money, it was okay but not someplace I’d stay again.

AZ-Sonora Desert Museum


After connecting with one of Shari’s old friends from high school for dinner later, we decided to head to the AZ-Sonora Desert Museum for a quick introduction to the local species. We didn’t have much time but we made the best of it, getting ten new species (23 total) in about two hours. The highlights were Verdin, Western Tanager and Gila Woodpecker.

Beaten, not Stirred

We also got to see a few other new animals as well while checking or the rest of the zoo. In fact, the museum is a pretty nice little place – the exhibits for each species are fairly spacious, especially compared to most of the other zoos that I have seen. The mountain lion exhibit had almost the same space as the elephant pen at the Philadelphia zoo, despite housing only a single mountain lion.  They also had a pretty nice exhibit of endangered black-tailed prairie dogs complete with the holes and a number of them going about there business, including this rather fat (and probably pregnant) dog:

Does this outfit make me look fat?

We also got our first taste of some of the more common species we would run across: cactus wrens and black-chinned hummingbirds.  In fact, the amount of ‘wild’ animals in the park was pretty impressive – squirrels, chipmunks, birds, lizards were all running free and enjoying the enviroment (perhaps as much as we were!).


Cactus Wren, sans cactus

The Nectar Thief 

Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough time there – I hope to get a chance to get back there again for a longer visit.  There was so much ground that we didn’t get to cover – not only in the museum, but the whole Tucson area.  We never got to the nearly famed Sweetwater Wetlands, nor to any of the various mountain ranges in the area.  But that will have to wait – Shari gets to plan the next trip.  😉

Being Hooded Doesn't Make Him a Bad Bird


After our trip to the museum, we met up with Shari’s friend Jeff and his girlfriend Michelle. They took us to this little Mexican restaurant (can’t remember the name) and Shari and he caught up. They told us about the Tucson area and tried to give us some advice about the places we were heading, although they didn’t have much experience in that area. Still, it was a really good dinner and the Negro Modelo really hit the spot. Unfortunately, one beer plus being up for almost 24 hours (and 40 of the last 48) meant that I could barely keep my eyes open by the end of dinner. So, we made it an early night (9:30pm – about 12:30am ET), and headed back to plan to leave the next morning early.

There was a small wrinkle, however, when we realized that we were going to have to make a little side trip – it turns out that we somehow forgot to pack the card reader and small portable hard drive for our pictures, which meant we needed to hit the local Wal-Mart to pick up a new card reader at the very least, or we wouldn’t have enough hard drive space by the end of the trip. Ironically, we would get home from the trip – and not finding the hard drive where we packed, Shari did another search of her bag and found the stuff hidden in a side pocket she had forgotten about. In other words, we had the drive the whole time but couldn’t find it. Oh well…

Cactus Wren*
Rock Wren*
Gila Woodpecker*
Acorn Woodpecker*
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Western Tanager*
Yellow Warbler
Wilson’s Warbler
Lesser Goldfinch*
Hooded Oriole*
Northern Cardinal
Gambel’s Quail*
Curve-billed Thrasher
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Chihauhuan Raven*
Rock Pigeon
House Sparrow
House Finch
Red-tailed Hawk
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Rock Squirrel*
Cliff Chipmunk*
Zebra-tailed Lizard*
Trip Stats (Species/New)
Location: 24 / 11
Trip: 24/11 

4 Responses to “Arizona Trip – Day 1

  • amazing shots Marty – that hummer looks like it was carved out of wood and that prairie dog really needs to cut back on the deviled eggs and beer

  • pattybruno
    15 years ago

    What a LONG day this must have been for you both! I sure liked the Tucson airport! It was so big and so few people.

    How hot was it when you arrived? I assume the museum wasn’t too crowded like it was with us. Golly, it was packed.

    Keep the reports coming, Marty!

  • @Van: – I was thinking that same thing. But fat and happy, can we argue?
    Patty: – it was a very long day, but worth it. The museum was nearly empty when we were there, except for a few families finishing up. But even they were a joy to watch – I LOVE when you see the wide-eyed fascination that kids have with animals; moreso when they see the animals outside of the pens (like they did when Shari and I were photographing the hummingbirds).

    Oh, and I’m trying to keep up, but I have to get pictures from each day processed!

  • Great shots again, the prairie dog is of course absolutely hilarious … and I *really* like the white/yellow bird. Very pretty.

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