“It’s just so beautiful!” I kept repeating, the scene before me an unexpected treasure on what was to be a non-eventful day.
Having only just arrived in Arizona, we like to take a day to orient ourselves to the area – note the interesting landmarks, restaurants, shopping areas. The landscape here is so different from Texas, with the tall Saguaro cactus, and a variety of interesting trees, plus the clay red colour of the earth. We passed many natural areas, all enticing, and even though we had not dressed for an outdoor adventure, we finally could not help ourselves and pulled into Coon’s Bluff, part of the Tonto National State Park.
We pulled up to a parking area where concrete picnic tables were dispersed amongst the Mesquite trees. Other worldly to those of us from up north, the woods look almost fairy tale quaint, and we decided to get out and follow the path to what appeared to be a lookout of some kind. The scene below took my breath away, and I literally felt myself tear up.
“I can’t believe this is happening to us,” I said, squeezing Ric’s hand. “It’s a miracle.”
The ground below us gave way to a steep drop of rocks tumbling into a perfectly pristine river – the Salt River, I later learned. The trees along the slope clung to their precarious perch with roots exposed, and I somehow felt a kinship with their tenaciousness: we hold onto what sustenance we can find. (See feature image.)
A flash of movement revealed a Rock squirrel, his unique colouring an excellent camouflage for the surroundings. Just like our squirrels at home, he was skittish but curious to see if we had anything for him. I later read that these squirrels are particularly clever and eat snakes, even the venomous ones, by outsmarting them.
A small black bird with white underbelly, darted between the rocks, back and forth across the river, serenading us with a sweet song. As my birding experts are not available here, I am unsure whether this is some kind of flycatcher or maybe a pee wee. Any input is welcome. Perched on a large rock overlooking the water, the reflection of the trees made this an interesting picture.
Everything about this place felt enchanted, and I just kept repeating: “It’s so beautiful”. And even though the view brought tears to my eyes, it was what we encountered in the woods that warmed my heart and stayed with me for hours afterwards. More about that tomorrow.