Where is Tortuga? travel blog

An old beautiful Organ Pipe.

Tortuga in the campsite.

Organ pipe plants grow prolifically on the southern exposures. This, a view...

A chainfruit cholla at sunset.

An ocotillo the day we arrived.

An ocotillo after the rains. One could almost see the leaves appear.

The start of an ocotillo bloom.

Lois caught by a jumping cholla. Yes, it hurt.

The desert woodpecker who was burrowing a hole into the saguaro next...

An arch in the Ajo mountain.

The inside of an organ pipe arm.

Helen is sure she is a cactus bloom.

Small hedgehogs illuminated in the sun.

A teddy bear cholla, hugging discouraged.

Sunset from our site.

The Ajo Mountains lighted by the sunset.

Helen hiked.

The layers of Tuff, volcanic ash in the Ajos.


A saguaro in the sunset.

A young organ pipe-perhaps 30 years old.

If it freezes lines form on the growth area of the arms...

An ocotillo in the sunset.

A menage a trois.

Lois is part saguaro.

Shadows on the mountains.

Helen communing with an organ pipe.

The expansive beauty of the Sonoran Desert.

There is a town called Why. Also a store in the town called "Why Not Travel Store". The town is at a Y junction, but the lore also goes that early travels also asked "Why" would anyone live here?. This also the very edge of the Tohono O'odham Nation, the 2nd largest reservation in the US. These were the original peoples who lived in this area of the Sonoran Desert and discovered many ways of living in the desert and using the plants and animals for food and healing. They even found a plant cure for syphillis.

But back to Organ pipe National Monument. We spent a total of 10 days there and could hardly bring ourselves to leave. The park offers a van tour 20 miles into the Ajo Mountains. We were so enthralled, we took the trip twice.

"What did you go out to the desert to see?"

Cactus of all shapes and sizes and the more rare Organ Pipe cactus which grows prolifically on the southern mountain slopes.

The red rock of the Ajo mountains brilliantly reflected in the setting sun.

The full moon, yellow, close and smiling as it rose over the mountains.

The ocotillo which turned from dull grey sticks to yellow green during the time we were there. The rains encouraged the leaf growth and some overachievers even developed red blossom plumes.

The desert woodpeckers who were burrowing nests into the saguaro right next to our campsite, who serenaded us daily.

Again, the coyote and javelina were no shows.

But what we also were surprised by was the life and magic of the desert. It glowed in the setting sun. It came alive with very little rainfall. The shadows of the sun on cliudy days created everchanging patterns and colors. And the resilency of the desert will be for us a sources of strength and encouragement during our arid and stress times in the future. The silence invited us to go deeper and just be.

So we left knowing that we will be return another year. The desert takes up residence inside one if you let it.

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