Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Friendship - From Virtual to Reality

In the cyberworld, we often meet people and become friends without ever meeting in person.  So when a fellow blogger recently told me she would be in Tucson and would I like to meet, I jumped at the chance.  After all, I already knew I would like her.  She leads an interesting and adventuresome life, which I admire, and she and I have so many interests in common.  Marilyn's stay in Tucson was brief as she was traveling from Texas to northern California and had only one night to stay.  So, we agreed to meet at Catalina State Park where she would be camping.  We could spend a couple of hours birding and then have breakfast before she had to be on the road again.

Before the sun even had an opportunity to rise over the Catalinas, we were on the trail.  Even before the birds, as it turns out!  We were so busy chatting and getting acquainted that we really forgot to notice how few birds were about.  It was a crisp morning, still chilly in the shadow of the mountains, but cloudless and promising to warm up soon.

As the sun rose higher and the trail climbed, it was time to shed sweaters.  Soon we were stopping to investigate bird songs and photograph those fascinating plants, not just the giant saguaros, but also cholla loaded with fruit.

A recently deceased saguaro, possibly the victim of lightning as there were some still-green parts lying among the debris, provided more photos ops.  The boots formed by the cactus to protect itself from the woodpeckers' nesting efforts were still embedded in the wooden ribs and decayed flesh.

Marilyn has great experience and knowledge of Texas flora and fauna and we enjoyed comparing the Sonoran Desert species to those with which she is more familiar.  In some cases, those species which overlap were much smaller in our drier climate.  Hackberry trees, for example, and side-oats grama grass.

Woopeckers called and flew by in their typical dipping, flap-flap-glide pattern, and we were able to recognize Gila and ladderback as well as flickers.  Many sparrows were flitting among the trees and shrubs - white-crowned, black-throated and rufous-sided.  They were joined by canyon  and green-tailed towhees.  A lovely little song made us think we might be hearing a wren, possibly a  rock wren, but we were never able to spot the singer.

Marilyn's road ahead was long and she wanted to be traveling before it got too late.  When we came to a fork in the trail, we could have gone left back to the parking lot, or right to take the 2-mile-or-so Canyon Loop trail.  Well, she said, that won't take long, let's take the loop trail.  Off we went, vowing to move faster and stop for fewer photos.  Ha!  Our intentions were good, but oh! there were just too many cool things to see.  Down by the ephemeral stream where tiny water cachements remained, the butterflies were flitting about - southern dogface, sleepy orange, queen, blues, Empress Leilia and gulf frittilaries.  Yellow composites bloomed, as well as a little purple aster (fleabane?) and some yellow primroses.  The deer grass was beautiful.

Just one more photo!
Oh, there were lizards too, scampering just out of camera view, and dragonflies.  Stop, she said, don't tell me any more.  Shorts and more water would have been in order at this point, but we were almost back to the car, weren't we?

We heard a black-tailed gnatcatcher and some Gambel's quail that refused to show their faces.  Marilyn really wanted to see the quail, and if we'd had more time, we could have found them.  These wonderful little birds are so evocative of the Sonoran Desert.  

The trail came to and end and we were off to breakfast.  Coffee and omelettes with salsa really hit the spot after our walk. It was a great morning and I'm so glad that Marilyn and I could make this connection.

 Here's to Marilyn's new adventure in a northern California wildlife refuge, and here's to friendship!


  1. Glad you had such a great hike together. Marilyn is one of a kind. :)

  2. I like your way to explain and write and the sensibility you have to Nature!
    The pictures are very nice! Thanks to share and give us the possibility to enjoy them! Best Wishes!

  3. Wonderful post, Carole. I have been either without Internet or not had the time to use it so just found your post. And, this morning, I found I had deleted all the pictures off the camera before I downloaded them.

    But I'll be putting up a post about Catalin with my evening pictures and linking to your post.

    Thanks for being such a wonderful tour guide and new real friend.


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