Life

Desert Appreciation: Bats

When we moved to the desert, we picked an apartment on the waterless river within walking distance of a grocery store. It was perfect. We could walk along the river path to the store, cross under a bridge for a busy road, and never having to wait at lights or attempt a game of live-action Frogger.

Because we arrived in summer, the best time to hit up the grocery store was in the evening, when the blisteringly hot sun was finally going down. So it was no surprise that we quickly found out that the bridge was harboring a secret: bats upon bats. We had inadvertently picked a home near the busiest, battiest bridge in all of Tucson.

I love it. The bats are semi-migratory, so there are far fewer in winter than summer, making Watching the Bats Come Out one of the few reasons to venture outside when it’s 110+ degrees. I will remember many a sticky night spent swatting mosquitoes, sweat streaming down my back, leaning over a metal rail, and watching the bats swarm and dart and finally flow free.

 

Two: The Splendor of a Bat Explosion

 

Campbell Bridge Bats

 

DITL May 17th

 

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

An Eruption of Bats

 

A Snake of Bats

Life

Desert Appreciation: Spring Blooms

As we near both the bleakness of summer and our move-outta-town date (oh yeah, did I mention we’re moving to Michigan??), I’m going to do a series of photo posts about the desert, Arizona, and our time here. It has truly been worldview-shifting and an amazing experience that I never could have anticipated. To be honest, when we were making the choice between grad schools way back six years ago, I really wanted to move to Oregon. But I am so, so glad we came here instead.

Let me count the ways.

 

One: The Glory That is a Desert Spring

 

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I grew up in Florida and never really experienced spring. Because it never quite froze during the winter, plants kept their leaves and weren’t rushed to bud and bloom as soon as it warmed up. After all, they had 11 months to do all that.

 

Spring Blooms in the Desert

Then we moved to Seattle and I watched the leaves fluoresce orange, yellow, red, before giving way to cold and dark and brittleness, and then suddenly blossoming again with bright-bright green buds come spring. My favorite part were the daffodils and crocuses that popped out of the snow, brilliant bits of color in an otherwise stark landscape.

 

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But Seattle has nothing on the desert.

For about two months out of the year, the drab brown is awash in yellow and orange and pink and white. Mostly yellow: the palo verdes go to town, blanketing streets and backyards in yellow blossoms and pollen. An allergy-sufferer’s nightmare, true, but worth it.

 

Spring Flowers

The plants don’t have much time to get in as much growing/blossoming as possible before the temp spikes over a hundred and what little moisture we got over the winter is all gone. So they go all out and it’s epic.

 

Spring Flowers

 

Ocotillo Blossom

 

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I’m definitely going to miss this time of ecstatic bloom.

Life

This Week’s Hike: Green Mountain Trail

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I decided to head a bit further up the mountain to find a cooler and shadier hike this week. The basin was all well and good, but it was also a little – okay a lot – exposed. Only a few miles up the road there are plenty of pines to cool things down.

I’ve started up the Green Mountain Trail before, but we only made it a mile or so in because we weren’t prepared for the constant uphill. This time, I knew what to expect and therefore savored each precious flat run that much more.

Technically, you’re supposed to start at the top of the trail and work your way down, but I adhere to the rule of Uphill First, because there’s nothing like breezing through several miles straight downhill then realizing now you have to go straight back up.

It was a quiet, clear morning, with excellent views of the city and Thimble Peak once I got high enough.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Hike Stats
Water consumed: just shy of 3 liters
Hours hiked: 2.5
Wildlife Spotted: a few Mexican Jays, several squirrels, and so. many. lizards
Elevation at Start: 5830 ft
Smells: Mostly pine, some sand and sunscreen
Sounds: The drone of the road for a little while, then bees and flies and the incessant soft rustle of pine needles.

Continue reading “This Week’s Hike: Green Mountain Trail”