Arizona dreamin’

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray
I've been for a walk on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm if I was in Tucson today
Arizona dreamin' on such a winter's day

With apologies to The Mamas & The Papas (John Phillips, Michelle Phillips)

We spent Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law’s place in Mount Shasta where we had snow and temperatures as low as 10°F. Even though—or possibly because—everything looked like a winter wonderland, my mind was elsewhere: in Arizona.

In a month, I’ll be there, soaking up the rays of the winter sun and exploring the best Phoenix and Tucson have to offer.

This will be the third year in a row I’ve gone on a solo trip in December. While I’ll be focusing on places I haven’t been, I must admit I’ve spent quite a bit of time going over photos from previous trips to tide myself until December 27.

Here are some of my favorites. All photos were taken during the month of December.

From 2013:


Tucson Mountain Park; the road goes to the Western Unit of Saguaro National Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


Tohono Chul Park, Tucson


Arcosanti north of Phoenix


Bach’s Cactus Nursery, Tucson


Agave guadalajarana at Greg Starr’s house, Tucson


Greg Starr’s driveway, Tucson


Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson


Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson


Agave colorata × bovicornuta hybrid, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson


Agave victoria-reginae, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson


Lophocereus schottii var. monstrosus, Tucson Botanical Gardens


Tucson Botanical Gardens


Tucson Botanical Gardens


Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior


Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior


Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior


Opuntia macrocentra and Agave gracilipes, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior


Picketpost Mountain, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior


Agave americana and Opuntia rufida, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior


Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior

From 2014:


New Year’s Day snow in the Tucson Mountains


The higher you climbed, the more snow there was


Winter wonderland…


…with saguaros and prickly pears


Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


Teddy bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


Astrophythum ornatum, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


Agave parryi var. huachucensis, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


Agave palmeri, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


Agave victoria-reginae, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum


Community of Civano, Tucson


Community of Civano, Tucson


Community of Civano, Tucson


Bach’s Cactus Nursery, Tucson


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix


Mission San Xavier del Bac, the “White Dove of the Desert”, just outside of Tucson


Desert vision

I can’t wait!


Jane Strong said…
My favorite photo here is the tall skinny cacti with red spines backlit.

I want to suggest to you looking up "Arizona Scenic Highways" and "Mt Lemmon" on Google if you haven't already. I've been to Tucson only once and the thing I remember most is the drive to Mt. Lemmon.

Mt Lemmon is the home of Tagetes lemmoni, Mexican marigold.

Jane, I've never driven up to Mt. Lemmon. I will definitely try to work it in since I'll be on the east side of Tucson already. I have two Tagetes lemmonii in my garden!
Kris Peterson said…
It's beautiful scenery and I can appreciate your excitement. I look forward to seeing your photos!
danger garden said…
Jealous! But if not me then I'm glad it's you that's going.

That image of Picketpost Mountain, it looks fake, like a move set...
Luisa said…
Ye gods, what a post. Somewhere, an Arizona Highways editor is plotting to hire you. Cactus, agaves, wildflowers, San Xavier del Bac, saguaros in snow... all too beautiful for words.

I wanted to put a word in for the terrific Heard Museum in Phoenix, with its great collection of American Indian art. I so need to visit Arizona again... Counting the minutes until next summer!
Alan said…
I was just going to say "can't wait to see your photos of the trip", but then you posted so many beauties from past years -- and some of these are just amazing. You know what you've done, you've just set the bar higher for yourself. Pressure is on this year! :)
Hoover Boo said…
AZ got magnificent amounts of rain this summer. Everything was so lush and green when we visited in October. Enjoyed your post, and anticipate more beautiful scenes to come.
I love road trips. So many possibilities. You never know what you mind find.
I feel that way a lot of in Southern California and Arizona. Maybe it's because so many movies were filmed there!
Being published in Arizona Highways was always a dream of mine, actually! Thank you for your very kind words.

I'll put the Heard Museum on my list.

You're about 7 hours closer to Arizona than I am. Phoenix is only 5 hours from Yucaipa. Just sayin' :-)
I have so much pressure at work that I'll glady put up with THIS kind of pressure.

Everytime I go back to a place I've been to so many times before I worry I might not find anything new to photograph. And yet, those worries always prove to be unfounded.

So what I'll do is get in the car at 6 a.m. on December 27 and simply go with flow. On these solo trips, I'm able to get "into the zone" much more easily that on trips with other people. Although I'm making plans to meet up with some fellow bloggers in Southern California :-).
I had forgotten about the rains this summer! That makes me even more excited.

On this trip, about 3/4 of the places I'll visit will be new to me. It'll be fun to explore new destinations. My personal goal is to eat huitlacoche :-).