Regrettably, the new year, 2021, began much the same as 2020 ended, maybe even worse! The pandemic is raging in the US and the world, vaccinations are being delivered ever so slowly, and our grand country is more divided than ever. The unprecedented debacle of the United States capitol building being overrun is perhaps one of the saddest and angriest occurrences in our lives. Conversations among family and friends are ever so delicate, with words being measured very carefully. Individual opinions and beliefs, particularly among the more silent folks, are no longer respected. God help us all.
With the pandemic accelerating to extraordinary levels, particularly in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and in the state of Arkansas, life is far from normal, though I suspect our historic normal will never return. It’s even too scary to consider making photographic trips to the greater Phoenix and Tucson areas. Our lives here at Palm Creek RV Resort in Casa Grande, AZ, now consist of pickleball, golf, and eating meager meals (we’re both trying to lose weight). One bright spot is that I was quickly elevated to level 3.0, and have asked to be observed for level 3.5.
While Kay and I talk about traveling, we are acutely aware that trips will not happen soon—there are still deposits/funds “invested” in two international trips, and at least three round trip airline flights have been paid for.
We did venture out on Saturday, January 9 to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument; it was a spur-of-the-moment trip! The just over two hour drive through the desert was relaxing, with little traffic. Most roads on Indian reservations are closed due to the pandemic, so there are only a few ways in and out. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a US national monument and UNESCO biosphere reserve located in extreme southern Arizona that shares a border with the Mexican state of Sonora. The park is the only place in the US where the organ pipe cactus grows wild. Along with organ pipe, many other types of cacti and other desert flora native to theYuma Desert section of the Sonoran Desert region grow in the park. In 1976 the monument was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, and in 1977 95% of Organ Pipe Cactus was declared a wilderness area. Regrettably, little information was provided by the Visitors Center, other than traditional National Park Service handouts about the monument. We did the 21-mile Ago Mountain Drive, stopping afterwards back at the Visitors Center for a picnic lunch. Though the monument was not crowded, we opted not to hike any of the trails.
These birds were photographed near the Visitors Center.