Surprises in the Desert

You can tell I’ve been hiking in the Sonoran desert with a camera. But my camera failed me two weeks before I left; so I’m armed only with the iPhone camera. We drove South to Tucson from Phoenix. Passed some surprises–a large orchard. In the desert? Yes. I’m guessing they are almond trees, but I’m not positive.

And then a real surprise. On the desert floor, maybe 25 miles out of Phoenix, a number of descansos, grouped together. Descansos are roadside grave markers. These were about 100 feet off the road, but there were at least a dozen, followed shortly by others. Who were these people who died in the desert, and whose graves are marked and tended? Someone remembers and loves them, someone paints the crosses on their graves and paints them white.

At the Sonoran Desert Museum there were specimens of plant and animal life–all in their natural habitat. Snakes and spiders, millipedes and lizards were in viewable habitats, but much of the desert is outside, in the desert, in a wild habitat.mountain view

The views alone were breath-taking, but I was surprised to see animals, including white-tailed deer.

white tailed deer

There are hummingbirds in the desert, too. (See him in the center of the picture, below,sitting on a white cup feeder.) Like monarch butterflies, they migrate. Monarchs don’t migrate through Arizona, but they do wander in occasionally, to the higher and damper areas.

–All images and text copyright by Quinn McDonald, 2007 All rights reserved. Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. See her work at


5 thoughts on “Surprises in the Desert

  1. Wonderful images, Quinn! What an exciting new home. Such creativity in the midst of what we call ‘desert’. Is there a metaphor lurking there?

    —My life is filled with metaphor, Trisha. I may be a metaphor collector, sort of like a solar collector. I don’t have a home, yet, but I’m getting closer. And I am endlessly happy to have arrived here in November, a rather bleak time in my former home. Thanks for posting, I hope to see you often!

  2. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is fantastic! I could spend days exploring that area.

    I love hearing about your adventures. It may sound strange, but deep down I’m thrilled when a friend escapes from the DC area. And I think of it as escaping, too.

    –Thanks for posting. I’ve been using my iPhone camera since my older (5 years–hah!) digital died. The iPhone camera has some real abilities–although it has a single kind of lens–no telephoto or wide angle. So I’m wondering–you belong to a plastic camera club, is there a phone camera club? I’m having way too much fun with this technique. -Q

  3. Quinn, you must explore the Superstition Mountains. There are some really lush spots to be found if you are a hiker. Unfortunately, I can’t hike so much any more, but if you’re able and willing, there are some pleasant surprises out there.

    Great pics!


    –I’m thinking of getting some hiking poles. A friend who also has arthritis recommended them. I’m not an ambitious hiker, but I love the scenery and love being outdoors! –Q

  4. One would never know that this is the desert by looking at your lush photos! After living in the desert for 5 years, I gained a deep appreciation for its stark beauty. Enjoy your new home! Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures in exploring the desert.

    –I’m amazed at how alive the desert is. I’ve been here only 10 days and I’m learning something new all the time. I think photography is the way to go with recording this. -Q

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