Desert Botanical Gardens – An Oasis in the Desert

The desert is a wild and scary and exciting place.  Desert Botanical Gardens is a wonderful place to experience the desert, in all her glory, in amazing and classy comfort.  Years ago my Eagle Scout cousin took me on some hikes through the desert pointing out every animal, cactus, plant, rock, snake, etc he could find.  At first glance, the desert is stark and unforgiving.  But, when he took me through with an attention to detail only an engineer can muster my love for the desert was secured.  If only my pale skin and dry nose would agree perhaps I could live there.

At the gardens visitors can wander through perfectly manicured pathways and see everything the desert has to offer like desert wild flowers, yucca, agave, saguaro cactus raising their arms to the sky, Cholla cactus waiting to jump and attach itself to passersby, smooth and classy succulents, tall and skinny organ pipe cactus, tall and bazaar boojum, even a cactus they nickname the old man because it appears to have a bald head and wispy white hair! Like any botanical garden the specimens are well cared for and the perfect way to see a fine example of every type of species an area has to offer in a small package.

The gardens are home to a butterfly garden, a cafe, a garden center, and even boast Chihuly glass sculptures that light up the night.  The gardens are a must see when visiting Phoenix and can be easily seen in a few hours.  Just be sure to bring your hat and your good camera because I neglected to do so and the desert won’t let you get away with that!

For more Arizona fun visit my post on Casa Grande Ruins National Park.

To see some of the other amazing botanical gardens I have visited please click here!  I do love photographing a good garden.

Boojum Tree, looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book.

Saguaro Cactus cresting

Lovely view from the Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail

A photo from what I wish was my garden…

As if Cactus are hardy enough this one has prickles on the bottom side. Small animals beware.

Lots of birds live and nest inside the saguaro cactus. Seems to be a good place for a Disney cartoon to take place!

Nothing prettier than a blooming cactus. Best to visit in spring to see more blooms.

“Old Man” Cactus, this one cracks me up.

Tell me this cactus is not screaming to be in a black and white photo?!

Chihuli light sculptures

A lovely and unusual cactus seen all over the garden

Casa Grande Ruins National Park – Arizona

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the most fabulous wedding EVAR of my cousin down in Florence, Arizona.  Fun Fun.  Happy Happy.  On the way back towards Phoenix we decided to check out Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. From a distance the great house made from a mix of sand, clay, and limestone can be seen.  It makes quite the formidable site because a structure has been lovingly been created to save the house from further rain and sun decay.

The structures were made by the Hohokum people settling near the Gila river around 1350.  This and other houses were build around irrigation canals created for agricultural purposes and survival in the harsh desert.  (It was harsh enough for me at only 95 degrees last weekend.)  A short time later we are left with fragments of the buildings left in the Sonoran desert.  Old graffiti can be seen inside from the 1850s when people would pass by.

I love the desert.  My skin and my lungs may not but I enjoy the beauty of the harsh environment with nearby Saguaro cactus dotting the landscape.  Cactus, birds, snakes, and hills in the distance marking your progress.  This was a nice little oasis on the drive from remote Florence back towards the civilization of Phoenix.

These Boots are Made for Walking

The great blog Where’s My Backpack came up with a fun and unusual Travel Theme of Feet!  One could go all over the place with this theme…my feet, animal feet, statute feet, furniture feet, feats of strength…this gives me an excuse to display some of the random photos I have taken while trekking around…

One thing is for sure.  Apparently, I have nothing better to do than to take photos of my feet while wandering through the world! I suppose these photos tell a story of their own separate from those that were taken directly of the attraction I was visiting.  🙂

fire shoes 3

Relaxing in Mendocino

Spring Flower Hiking in the California Sierras

Resting at the top of one of the temples of Tikal

Cooling off in Phoenix


Boonie Crashing at the Arch of Labna in the Yucatan

Searching for Water in California

chili shoes

Hot Chili and Cool Cars in Rocklin, California

shoes mushroom

Mendocino Mushroom Festival

Hiking in El Dorado National Forest

Boots ocean - Copy

Standard Beach apparel – Doran Beach


Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Phoenix Wildlife Zoo & Aquarium

While visiting family in Phoenix we decided to feed our mutual love of animals by visiting Phoenix’s Wildlife Zoo and Aquarium. I have to be honest…I was wondering how it was possible to have a zoo in the intolerable Phoenix heat. (Thankfully it was a perfect 88 degrees during my fall visit.) Well, it turns out the park was built on an old piece of agricultural property with TONS of mature trees and lots of luxurious shade.

Highlights for me were watching people feed the giraffes, eating next to the shark tank, petting a manta ray, colorful poison frogs, black panthers, penguins, turtles, white tigers, a sloth, and hundreds of lovely birds.

I never grow tired of admiring exotic animals who seem well cared for. It’s a wonderful way to visit with family who I don’t get to see often enough.

So here’s to family homecomings shared with furry friends!

Please excuse the lack of fancy good camera photos. These are a few fun photos taken with my iPhone.