Cacti and Cowboy Country


Ok, as promised, here’s a bit more about the trip to the States in Feb 2008…

We flew out on Friday morning to Houston, then got straight on another plane from there to Phoenix. A long day, made even longer by the plane being late leaving, which made it a pretty tight connection for us in Houston, what with the glacial speed the immigration and baggage handlers seem to work at. But we made our flight in the end.

We’d flown in to Phoenix as Michael was flying in from Europe a bit later on that evening, so Megan was convinced somehow to go with Michael’s dad to the airport a bit early to meet him. Instead she found us! Although it did seem to take her a little while to really believe that we were there to see her, and not on our way to Mexico or somewhere. Michael duly arrived, and we were off.

I can’t say I remember too much of the drive to Michael’s parent’s winter retreat in the Tucson area, although by this stage it was really late and dark, and I was falling asleep constantly. About the only thing I remember is Bec waking me up to tell me that it was snowing, which I hadn’t really expected, but as we’ve not seen any in London so far this year, I was pretty happy with that. For about 15 seconds, until I went back to sleep.

We had a reasonable sleep after such a long trip. We were staying at Michael’s parents neighbours (Eva and Paul – thanks), so when we finally woke up we were able to have a real look around. Still snow on the hills, but seemed pretty bright and warm to us when we’re dodging the last bit of winter in London.


Michael’s mum, Phyllis, likes to do puzzles as do a few others, so there were many puzzles done… Walking around the neighbourhood saw us sharing the road with a roadrunner, lots of bunnies and deer (we have a lot of photos of them too, if you really want to see one!  Just ask!).




The Desert Museum was a walk around a loop trail with lots of things to see on the way. We started with the reptiles – all sorts of snakes and spiders – scorpions, tarantulas, rattle snakes, and lizards. One of the snakes had even shed its skin. Dylan looked like he wanted to play with the very active rattlesnake. I just wanted to get away from it!


And, something else that is becoming a bit of a tradition for us when we go anywhere, they were displaying a cute little owl, along with an eagle and raptors, though I think we missed the raptors.


There were also some bobcats (hiding from the sun or maybe the ever increasing crowd of spectators),and some prairie dogs (one of our favs), wolves, coyote (so we managed to see both the roadrunner and coyote. But they seemed not to want to blow each other up etc…), and many, many others, plus a bonus of a great little aviary with a heap of hummingbirds in it. This little guy let me get up to about 20cm away for this pic. Luckily, as trying to catch them in flight was just about impossible! They make a really weird sound when they whip past your ear!




On the next day (I think, it’s all a bit of a blur now…) we walked through a local canyon – Honeybee canyon. More cacti and wildlife. A bit of a surprise within a minute or so of getting into the canyon proper. Some great big wild pigs popping out in from of us. They seemed quite happy to wander off and ignore us though.


The canyon itself was a bit of a surprise. It was soooo green! There had been a lot of rain, apparently, but to see so much grass and running water in the desert was a bit of a surprise. A bit like the snow!


All in all, some parts of Arizona reminded us a bit of Central Otago. Well, the look of the hills (if you don’t look so closely) and the rabbits and stuff. The rattlesnakes and cacti, not so much!

Back in Houston, saw the challenge of the Wii – I think Michael was somewhat surprised by Bec’s boxing skills. Look at the concentration of them both, but it seemed to entertain them enough! Other than that we just shopped around a bit, visited the supermarket a few times (lame I know but somewhat interesting to walk around), and then pretty much just sat around and relaxed.


A big thanks to Adrian, Phyllis, Eva, Paul, Megan, Michael, Dylan and Ben for a great relaxing trip.

I suspect, though, the lasting memory of the trip though will be of cacti!