Monday, January 30, 2012


After an uneventful drive to 4.2 miles north of the Mexican border, at Organ Pipe National Monument, we set up our camp. Organ Pipe is part of the Sonoran desert and has some unique features. For instance, it rains here in summer and winter and, as a result, is the greenest of the four major North American deserts.

We stopped at the visitors center and right then two  Harris Hawks stopped in for a drink in a small pond the back of the building. It is filled with pupfish and the hawks come for a drink of water and occasionally grab a fish snack out of the shallow pond.

One flew into the tree, the other is sitting in the shadows near the pond.

Both hawks  waded in the pond before flying off, but, one has to be fast to get pictures. Their orange colored  breast, white tail feathers, and brown shoulders give them distinct coloration.  We spent about an hour in the visitor’s center and watched a film. Unless you live nearby, you miss the many seasons and vistas in the park; spectacular blooms and creatures that make the desert a living, vibrant place. The ranger gave a 15 minute talk about the various states of development to finally bring this unique place to fully protected status. It not only protects organ pipe and sonito cactus, but pronghorn sheep and a rare whole habitat. Organ Pipe is now a UNESCO bio-preserve, and richly deserves that world distinction.
The park is primitive without electricity or showers. It does have modern bathrooms. We walked out at 7:30 to attend a star-gazing gathering led by a ranger. It was so dark, even with our flashlights, we never did find the amphitheater. We laid back in our chairs and enjoyed the stars on our own. Dark like this is hard to find in our modern world.

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