Sunday, March 1, 2009

Vacation - Part 10

The morning of Day 6 we headed out for a guided city tour of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. One of the stops along our guided tour was at Echo Canyon Park on Cambelback Mountain. I don't have any distance shots of this mountain, but Camelback Mountain was named because it looks the the 2 humps and head of a bactrian camel.

This is our step-aboard guide for the city tour. He is standing next to the skeleton of a Saguaro (pronounced sah-wah-ro) cactus. The main stems of the Saguaro are supported by these woody ribs. The Saguaro has a huge capacity to store water which allows it to flower every year in May and June, regardless of rainfall. The Saguaro has a very shallow root system.

The Saguaro is protected in the state of Arizona so you can not just go out into the desert, find one, dig it up and plant it in your yard. Saguaros can only be purchased from someone who has a permit to sell and transport them. When transplanting a Saguaro, the original orientation of the plant to the sun must be respected in its new location. The side of the cactus that was facing east in its original location must also be the side of the cactus that faces east in its new location.
The Saguaro provides habitat for many animals. The Gila woodpecker creates many of the nest holes that you see in the mature cacti. East year the woodpecker creates a new hole and either insects or lizards take over the old hole.
Although slow growing--about an inch a year--the Saguaro cactus can reach heights of 15 to 50 feet. The larger plants with more than 5 arms are estimated to be at least 200 years old. At 50 to 65 years of age and 6 meters in height, the Saguaro develops its first arm.
The Saguaro can be the dominant feature of the landscape. However, it almost always is accompanied by a high concentration of desert trees. These trees are supported by a high rainfall twice a year in the spring and autumn. These trees act as "nurse plants" to the young Saguaro seedlings by protecting them from being eaten by animals and also by providing shade and humus rich moisture retentive soil in which the seedlings can develop.

This is another of the many cacti species that we saw in the park.

The red rocks of Camelback Mountain give the landscape a moon-like appearance.

After the remainder of the city tour of Tempe and Phoenix, we stopped at Old Towne Scottsdale.

We enjoyed walking up and down the streets and browsing in many of the shops and galleries.

Many of the boulevards and street corners are landscaped with the most interesting varieties of cacti.

This is a cactus called, Organ Pipe.

An interesting bloom on a cactus next to a bistro.

Our evening meal was at Organ Stop Pizza.

Basically, this is a pizza parlour inside of an organ. Organ Stop Pizza is the home of the world's largest Wurlitzer pipe organ. As the performance starts, the pedestal that the organ player is sitting on rotates and rises up from the well. This was a fabulous show as the organist played requests and finished with both the Canadian and American national anthems.

As Canadians, we felt both welcomed and appreciated. The Organ Stop Pizza is an experience not to be missed if you are ever in the Mesa area.


  1. Hi there Norma. I finally got on your blogspot today and am amazed at the pictures of the trip. I am going to email you.

  2. Oh how I wish I had known you were here in the Valley of the Sun! I would have treated you to a trip to my favorite quilt shop:Quiltz. You were so kind to me and let me pick your brain about what long arm you use. I have upgraded to an HQ16. It is a good fit for now, but I'm saving any money I make with it to upgrade in the future. Hope you enjoyed our lovely winter weather! Beth in AZ