“Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix have mobility scooters on a first come first serve basis!” I told Ric excitedly. I’d been itching to get out again and see more countryside, but my body and his knees have been protesting.
The gardens open at 8:00 a.m. and we are forty-five minutes away, so we set an alarm, grabbed some breakfast bars and travel mugs of hot coffee and tea and headed out. Early morning, it turns out, is the best time of day to go – the temperatures are still cool, and the birds are out in full force. Just stepping out of the truck in the parking lot we were greeted by a Gila woodpecker and a Black-chinned hummingbird.
It would not be a cheap outing – $24.95 each plus scooter rentals – but the returns are worth it. The gardens are arranged in several different looping trails representing different topographies. We followed the advice of one of the volunteers and took the Desert Wildflower Loop to start out. Here the birds were plentiful, and we managed to catch up with a tour whose focus was on birds.
From there, we decided to do the central loop, which touched on all the other trails, and offered information kiosks. One enthusiastic volunteer told us all about the cacti and another about the agave plants.
We decided to stop and catch a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant. Gertrude’s offerings included a burger for Ric and a gluten-free, vegan risotto for me, which was delicious. Also not inexpensive, but the ambience was good, and we lingered after lunch with a hot drink, before heading out into the sun again. (Unfortunately, I’d forgotten my hat.)
After lunch we carried on, visiting the trails we’d missed and enjoying the varied gardens. Interspersed with the greenery are art displays and zen-like gardens for quiet contemplation. It really is a delightful and well thought out place. If we were staying longer in the area, I would be tempted to by a yearly pass.
Naturally, we captured several images of birds, which will be the topic of tomorrow’s post, but for now I’ll leave you with this little teaser. Can you see the bird sitting in the nest, perched in the crook of a saguaro, high above the path? I almost missed it, except for the twitch of a tail that caught my eye.
Do you know which bird species is more prevalent in Arizona than any other part of North America? Stay tuned…