The best way to understand the Sonoran desert is to drive to the end of a dirt road, take no water or matches, leave your phone in the car, don’t tell anyone where you are, wear light clothes and no hat, and hike till you get lost.
The second best way to understand the Sonoran desert is go to a museum and go through its exhibits.
The Sonoran desert starts in Arizona, spills into California and reaches down the entire Mexican Baja peninsula. It has multiple ecosystems and a variety of plants,animals, insects and minerals. Water is scarce but prospectors donkey’s know where to find it, the biggest discovery of all.
This morning, walking through paths notated on visitor maps, Alan and I see coyotes, a caged mountain lion, skunks, saquaros, desert springs,scorpions, barn owls, sun shades fashioned out of rope and netting, a boojam tree, aviary birds,flourescent minerals and underground bats, all part of nature’s bouquet.
We also get to see wildlife in an auditorium where a skunk, porcupine, macaw and a bull snake are brought out for us to admire while a museum employee answers questions and gives nature lectures.
Our macaw flies from the front stage to an attendant’s arm at the back of the auditorium. His wings make a shoo shoo shooing sound as he flies over us all and his beak cracks the peanut his handler gives him after he has completed his task. Somehow, he cracks the peanut, swallows the peanuts, and spits out the shell, in a few seconds.
This live presentation is a highlight of our morning expedition but the horned toads, embedded in a stuccoed wall at the front of the venue, also shine.
They are sharing a quiet moment before sun down, like two brothers remembering baseball home runs in the intersection of Bellamah and Aspen street in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June 1955.
Tennis balls fly a long way when you hit them solid with an authentic Kentucky Slugger hickory bat.