The Great American West is full of some rather peculiar plants, I can’t wait to tell you about it. Anna Roo back again for a part two recap of our great western road trip. When we last left off we were still marching west and had just arrived in Tuscan, Arizona
Ants Marching – Dave Matthews Band
Saguaro National Park and Tucson
We woke up in Tucson ready for some new adventures. We headed a few miles south of town to Mission San Xavier del Bac. This is one of the oldest churches in the Americas, completed in 1797. The Baroque architecture, clay mortar and Spanish artwork made for a unique experience. We walked through the church and museum before trying our hand at a docent guided tour. We made it 10 minutes into the tour before I bumped my head and proceeded with a slight meltdown. At this point we bowed out gracefully and attempted to calm down.
We opted for a more free form activity and walked up the small hill behind the mission to a beautiful grotto with views of the mountains. We also hit up the Indian fry bread in the parking lot before heading out.
Our next planned stop was the Titian Missile Museum, but I made my opinions and attention span for tours clear during our first attempt at a tour. So, we decided to switch it up.
This has been both a theme and lesson of the roadtrip thus far, maintaing flexibility to change plans and do what’s best for the entire group.
We hopped around Tucson running fun errands before hitting the nap game hard. Refreshed from our nap, we headed to Saguaro National Park. And y’all, I never knew cacti were so stinking cool. As we drove in to the park down windy mountain roads we had to stop ourselves from taking pictures of every cactus we saw.
Once in the national park we hit the visitor’s center to learn more about these bizarre plants and the ecosystem they live within. After driving the scenic loop drive we hiked Signal Hill Trail, and ate dinner with the petroglyphs at the top of the trail. As sunset drew near we headed to Desert Discovery Nature Trail for a quiet and illuminated walk among the saguaros.
We marveled at each saguaro for its unique quirkiness and enjoyed debating one another about why the one we spotted was superior. The best decision we made in Tucson was going to the Saguaro National Park for the hours before sunset. The cooler temperatures and lack of crowds made for a thoroughly enjoyable hike and no one wanted the evening to end. Another day ended with a tired but happy family.
The next day we woke up anxious for more saguaro fun. We heard to Arizona-Desert Museum Zoo first thing in the morning in hopes of catching some active animals before the sun flexed its powers in full force.
We had never been to a zoo quite like this. It was focused on the unique flora, fauna, geology, and history of the Arizona desert, and boy did they do it well.
We saw bobcats, javelinas, butterflies, snakes, skunks, beavers, black bears, big horn sheep, fossils, gems, tons of cacti, and so much more. The series of paved and rock paths meanders seamlessly into the landscape and leaves the illusion of wandering in the nearby national park while at the museum. It also felt right visiting a zoo and learning about new animals on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
We drove out of the thick saguaro forest for the last time and made our way to Phun Phoneix during the nap time hours. We stopped at the Arizona Science Center for some air-conditioned science before arriving at my Great Uncle and Aunt’s house for food, fun, and rest.
The next day began with donuts in the pool and family time before we were off to the trip’s next National Park, Joshua Tree.
Joshua Tree National Park
After the straight drive on good ol I-10, we entered the park from the south and made our way through the Colorado desert, anticipating the Joshua trees we knew were soon to come.
After driving half way through the park we noticed a big change, we were now in the Mojave desert and more and more of those funny Joshua trees kept popping up. This has been the trip of peculiar plants for sure.
We made it to our camping site, Jumbo Rocks, and took our time scouting out the best campsite. We found one with a shady picnic table and a huge boulder to play on, we were set. I helped Mom and Dad set up the tent by waving poles around until they needed them. With the tent set up it was time to explore some new trails. We hiked around our campsite for a while before deciding on Cap Rock Trail for sunset.
The trail was a perfect loop meandering through huge boulders and surrounded by the plants of the Mojave desert, namely the stately Joshua tree. We caught some more great sunset pictures before heading back to the campsite for dinner by flashlight.
We settled into bed early still not quite acclimated to the two-hour time difference. We marveled at the vast and twinkley-ness of the stars from our tent and I fell asleep hard. I would say my first time in a tent was a smashing success and mom and dad couldn’t get over the cool temperatures and overwhelming night sky.
With only a few hiccups during the night and relatively restful nights sleep we woke up the next day ready for more. We headed to Key Views trails for another look at the scenery and a spectacular view of the surrounding area. Joshua Tree was a success in my book.
After all of these crazy trees and parks it is time to head to the big city. Watch out Los Angeles, here comes the Roo.
What do you do with a 2-year-old in Los Angeles? Well you start at the Aquarium of the Pacific of course.
After gabbing a couple In and Out burgers we took our first turn at LA traffic as we headed to Long Beach to see Nemo and his friends. I especially enjoyed the penguins, otters, and the jellyfish and star fish touch stations.
We made our way across town to our gracious hosts in LA the Tierney’s at Gramblewood. I was excited to see little ones my size and wasted no time jumping on to the trampoline with my new friends.
The next day included a park outing and Santa Monica beach adventure. The water may have been cold and the traffic brutal, but you can’t beat fun in the sun and sand.
We tried our best to rinse off the evidence of sand as we got ready for the rehearsal dinner. The reason and inspiration for our western Rootrip came from mommy’s dear friend’s invitation for me to be the flower girl in her wedding. So the next morning I showed up to the Culver Hotel for the wedding ready to do my job and make everyone oh and ah.
Mom said I did great, and the bride and groom were the picture of perfection. I loved the brunch food, dance floor, and bubbles the most.
After the wedding and drive home we were pooped. We had made it to the half way point of our adventure, but there was still so much to do and see. Check back for the next installment soon.