We spent last week in Tucson, Arizona. It was such a change in temperature from home, going from jacket, hat and glove weather to shorts and t-shirts weather.

The drive was long but beautiful and we finished the very very long audiobook we had been working through, the third in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. We stopped in Phoenix to eat and Gavin spotted something in the sky he wanted to investigate so we walked over and found it was a huge suspended glowing sculpture.

Chris worked and the kids and I adventured during work hours and then we all headed out in the evenings together.

We saw our favorite soccer team, Real Salt Lake at two training matches while we were there. Lilah spent most of the first game watching bats catch moths in the stadium lights and she enjoyed that very much.


The three of us visited both sides of Saguaro National Park, East and West. We saw so many different kinds of cacti, and quite a bit of wildlife. The saguaro were fascinating – I’d never seen them before – and the rest of the cactus were as well.


The kids were offered a Junior Ranger program opportunity, an activity where they are given a bunch of activities/research to do in the park and when they finish a ranger goes over it with them and swears them in as a Junior Ranger. Honestly, I wished they hadn’t done it because they spent most of our first hike trying to fill out their papers instead of looking, listening and enjoying but they wanted to do it and both felt great finishing. If I’d somehow worked out a way for them to do the research, writing back at the hotel during down time that would have been perfect.

We saw jojoba, mesquite, hedgehog cactus, pincushion cactus, teddy bear cholla, pencil cholla, barrel cactus, saguaro, prickly pear, and various other plants on our explorations. There were many jokes about hugging the teddy bear cholla.

We saw cactus wrens, flickers, hawks, silky tailed flycatchers, lizards, bats, squirrels, rabbits, butterflies, wasps, moths.

The kids were so, so excited to see all the differing cactus types, some of them fruiting. None of them were blooming but it was so warm that I don’t know we’d want to go later in the year to see them blooming anyway.

I tried my hand at a new photography technique, shooting through my binoculars. It was tricky, but fun. Here are three of those shots, you have to have about four hands and have the lenses lined up *exactly* right or you get strange effects. I was trying to get a look at the nest in the hole in that saguaro.

The four of us took picnic dinner into the park and visited some petroglyphs and watched the sun set. Lilah took a picture of two different cactus together, saying “Those two look like best friends.”

We swam in the hotel pool.


Lilah worked on reading her Warriors by Erin Hunter, about cat warriors. Gavin finished the 2nd Warriors book, and several more of the How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell in between other things and while driving.

We drove past an airplane museum so I asked the kids if they were interested. They were so we headed there one morning. It was huge, which was a bit of a struggle since we didn’t have time to see it all and that is frustrating for Gavin. He really enjoyed it though and immediately started making plans to create new models of airplanes and ships in Legos at home. He asked questions about different parts of the models, especially the landing gear.


One evening we all went for a quick visit at San Xavier del Bac, a Spanish mission that is still active, though it was built in the 1700s. They are restoring the paintings inside as well as the sculpture and relief on the outer walls. It’s a beautiful building.

The three of us went to Colossal Caves for a tour. It was the first cave adventure for both kids. I hope we can go see our nearest local cave this year up at Mount Timpanogus. The rocks are still actively growing there with water moving through the minerals and rock. Colossal Caves are dry due to the hot, dry weather in Arizona but still had plenty of fascinating features and was a pretty easy, short walk; good for a first cave experience. While we waited for our tour to begin, the kids tried their hand at sluicing for gems.

It was a great trip, seeing new places and things and enjoying some warm weather and clear air when it’s cold and polluted at home.