Comfortable surroundings

As of Wednesday last week, we are back at Desert Trails RV Park southwest of Tucson. As we came down the road, we felt like we were getting close to home! Well, technically we always are home, but I trust you know that feeling.

That same day we met up with my cousin Andi and her husband Scott Nations from Wasilla, AK. Andi’s dad was my mother’s older brother, but since we lived several hundred miles apart and she is 7 years younger than I, we didn’t know each other well at all, so we spent several days getting reacquainted. They enjoy hiking and eating, a couple of our favorite things, too, so we did a little bit of both. The landscape in the background is the view from the hill at San Xavier Mission.

Since I was newly out of the hospital and Scott was feeling a little “puny” himself, we took it easy on our hikes. They had been to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum many years ago, but we took them back for the Harris’ hawk demonstration we enjoyed so much last year. This guy was at the entrance to greet us.

We picked up one little tidbit this year that we hadn’t remembered. Most hawks are individual hunters, with only two in the world hunting as groups or families. One is in the Gallapagos Islands and the other is right here in Arizona. Interestingly enough, the Harris’ hawks are headed up by an Alpha FEMALE, although she wasn’t hunting with the group the day we were there.

The next picture isn’t wonderful, but I took it just holding the camera over my head and pushing the button. They are magnificent birds!

The museum buildings house amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates. The best way to view a rattlesnake, in my opinion, is behind glass…very thick glass! As a result, pictures were less than great due to reflections and besides, some people I know would quit reading altogether if I posted a snake picture! The desert animals are outside, kept in their general areas by fences of one kind or another. Javalinas (and no, they’re not pigs) were not particularly photogenic but then again, I’m not sure they have a good side.

Coyotes and prairie dogs are not unique to the desert. I grew up watching both in the rolling hills of central Kansas, but not at close range except for the time my dad stopped the car on the way to church to cut the ears off a dead coyote to turn in for a bounty. At least that’s the way I remember it.

In order for the Alaskans to feel at home, we took a drive Sunday after church to Mt. Lemmon, high above the city of Tucson, where it was 20+ degrees cooler than the desert floor that afternoon.

Andi and Scott moved out on Monday to catch a different look at Arizona on their winter/spring tour, 2012. We look forward to seeing them again another year or maybe we’ll go visit them in their home in Alaska, but not in Liberty! While some of our RVing acquaintances make trips like that, I think we’ll take a plane and let Liberty rest when that time comes.

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