Celia and I had planned to be in cooler temperatures by now but life sometimes changes your plans. We had been staying in Benson, AZ at the Escapees Park, which is a wonderful place to visit. While we were there, we spent the day in the Emergency department in Tucson. After having tests to rule out stoke, etc. I (David) have been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. The ER doctor gave me some steroids and sent me home. While this condition is not painful, it has made me feel particularly tired so we decided to take it easy for a few days.
As I write this, we have traveled north to Mesa, Arizona and the outdoor thermometer is reading 100 degrees. This has been the first really hot day and we will be heading to cooler temperatures soon. Here in Mesa, we are visiting a new park called Usery Mountain Regional Park. It has been a wonderful discovery. The views are impressive and there are plenty of activities in the park itself in addition to the lovely desert scenery. From our site tucked among hundreds of blooming saguaros, we can see Pass Mountain, Usery Mountain, and the impressive Superstition Mountains in the background.
Thankfully the temperatures have been cooler the last few days and we were able to get out and visit some of the sights in Mesa and explore the park itself. There are many trails in the area that are well marked and maintained. There is also a nature center that has many birds that congregate there because of available food and water.
Arizona has many hummingbirds and this park is no exception.
We enjoyed hiking around the park and seeing all of the saguaros, barrel cacti, ocotillos, creosote plants and palo verde trees. We even saw mistletoe in one of the trees along the trail.
This morning we observed a Gambel’s Quail family taking a dust bath outside our window. They dug a hole in the soft dirt and wiggled in it. The quail cover their feathers with dirt to absorb excess oils. It was interesting to watch the baby chicks mimicking the parents’ actions.
Mesa Community College is home to the largest rose garden in the Southwest with over 9,000 roses. Many flowers are in bloom right now, perhaps just in time for yesterday’s graduation exercises. Established in 1997, the Rose Garden is part of the college campus and is very easy to access. It is maintained by a group of community volunteers called the “Deadheaders.”
Switching to something indoors, we visited the Arizona Natural History Museum, also located in Mesa. We had just viewed the Richard Attenborough special named “Dinosaur Apocalypse” so a museum that focused on the age of dinosaurs was especially interesting.
The museum has plenty of things to see and do, plus there are areas for children to learn interactively. We especially enjoyed exhibits from the Cretaceous period which ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs on earth.
There are other areas dedicated to the Native Cultures of Western North America, Mesoamerica, South America, and many more.
If you visit, don’t forget your phone as all of the guides, maps, and detailed information are internet based.
Plans change, but we still have found so many great places to visit and enjoy. This stop has proved to be a surprising one and a place we will definitely want to return to in the future.