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Arizona Thanksgiving

Part 5: Madera Canyon and the Desert Museum


I talked Floyd into going to Madera Canyon the next morning for a hike, so off we went before dawn. We did the usual Proctor Trail loop, only they had part of it closed off for bridge repair. It was pretty dead except for kinglets, Mexican Jays, and juncos. Then we headed to the very top and finally found the Nature Trailhead, but I didn’t do my beeper properly and we ended up going further than anticipated. I asked him if he wanted to try a loop, as I knew the trail connected with the amphitheater, and that it wasn’t too far up the road to the lower parking area, so he agreed, only the trail went way back up into the mountain and zigged and zagged quite a bit! We finally made it to the amphitheater, picking up a flock with Bridled Titmice on the way, but my asthma was really kicking up going up the road, so I gave the keys to Floyd and said, "If you get to the car first, come on down!" So he did, and I heard a Painted Redstart in the meantime, but it was really pretty quiet. But I definitely felt like I worked off all the pigging out of the day before!


Spider sp. along the Proctor Trail, and a Giant Agave Bug in the ladies' room...


We start at the upper end of the Nature trail (look hard for the little waterfall!) and finally come out at the amphitheater!

We went back to Sue and Jerry’s where the gang was having breakfast, and I tried Sue’s concoction of turkey gravy over waffles!  After that we headed to the Desert Museum, and while it was crowded, it wasn’t uncomfortably so (either that, or the Lord just worked in my heart so it didn’t bother me…). June opted to skip the reptile house, but we enjoyed the cave with all the beautiful gems, and the lazing Mountain Lions and preening Thick-billed Parrots. We had to scoot to make it to the free-flight show in time, but what we didn’t realize was that there was no seating except for a few benches! So we saved that for June, and when the show started it was wall-to-wall people, but I managed to get a few shots of the beautiful Harris’ Hawk family they had trained.


Liz, , Floyd, and June outside "The Cave" at the Desert Museum, where there are colorful minerals on display inside!

One of the unique things about the Desert Museum is that they display only animals native to Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.


Mountain Lion and Thick-billed Parrot



Trained Harris’ Hawks in their free-flight show

After that Cheryl felt the boys needed some real food, so we all agreed to meet at one of the restaurants around 2:30. I whizzed by the aviary and took a few pictures, then found the crew minus Mark and the boys, so I intended to zip around the corner to the hummingbird house, only I got waylaid by the garden and more wonderful butterflies, including a Texan Crescent and several Queens! Meandered back, but June and I weren’t really hungry, and those ice cream cones we kept seeing floating around sure looked good, so while Mark et al went into the restaurant Floyd and June and I made a beeline to the ice cream joint where the line was out the door, and I managed to get the last of the chocolate ice cream! So we took our treasures back to the restaurant where we joined the rest of the crew and were shortly visited by a Pyrrhuloxia who wanted a handout! (I thought that was pretty neat of God to bring him by when I had just been explaining the difference between them and Cardinals to Liz on the way there!) I also found a Curve-billed Thrasher that posed for pictures. About that time Carwyn skinned his knee, so after wrapping him up we headed to the gift shop and we all got a few things.

Birds in the aviary...


L-R:  Inca Doves, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and Killdeer

Butterflies in the Desert Garden...


L-R:  Texan Crescent, Southern Dogface, and Queens, who have a very Monarch-like pattern below, but are not as strongly marked as their cousins above.


Pyrrhuloxia that wanted a handout at lunch along with a Curve-billed Thrasher

Before leaving for good we took a quick tour of the hummingbird aviary, where Liz told us that if we just sat still, they’d come to us! Didn’t take long: a female Costa’s came right up to the kids’ cups that Mark was holding, trying to get a sip! The others weren’t as bold, but I picked out Black-chinned, Anna’s, and Broad-billed at least in there, in addition to the Costa’s.


Mark enjoys a female Costa’s Hummer trying to get a sip from his cup!  Also on display were Black-chinned (center) and Broad-billed (right) Hummers.

From there we headed straight to Sue and Jerry’s where Liz thought we were just gonna help them finish off the leftovers and watch Ice Age, but she was in for a surprise! Arlene had made a cake, and we did indeed finish up leftovers and watch the movie, but it was fun; Liz got several cards and gifts, including a singing hamster with a walker; that was cute!

I was really beat after that, so I kissed everyone goodbye and headed back to the hotel where I crashed and then headed back to San Diego the next morning.


    Sue has prepared quite the spread for Liz’s surprise birthday party!  Arlene supervises the lighting of the cake she made while Bohden, Cheryl, and Liz look on with approval!



(...and they haven’t even had any sugar yet…)  Mark gets into the spirit of things by donning ribbon earrings!


Can’t celebrate The Big One without multiple "50’s" gifts!


At left, Mark and Cheryl examine one of Liz's gifts while Sue and Jerry, the best of neighbors, pose at right!

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