While staying in Tucson, I spent two days to go out to Saguaro National Park, which I learned is divided into two sections, with half each on the East and West sides of town.

The first thing I learned, and was chastised about, is that it’s pronounced, Sa-Wa-Ro. No G sounds. So take that with you so you don’t embarrass yourself like I did.

The next thing I learned, is these cacti are fucking huge. Like, I had somehow thought that they were about the size of a person. And that’s pretty big, right? But what greeted me at the East side of the park when I entered was a 100+ year-old cactus that towered above the nearby buildings. And I then learned that Saguaros can be, like, 40 feet tall.

In my travels through the park, I learned much about the biodiversity of desert biomes and ecosystems. There are so many different kinds of cacti and other plants out here.

I also learned about the fragile nature of the saguaro forests, and how they need a nursery-like environment to thrive early on, and how the environment has changed over time.

Consistently, I felt amazed and humbled by being dwarfed by these giant cacti. Even ones that are relatively small towered over me.

There were a variety of lizards in the park which I saw, and some javelina that I missed.

Most of all, I appreciated and shared a few laughs at the diversity of the saguaro cacti themselves.

Later in the week, I checked out the West side of the park, which offered more beautiful desert views, this time with a long scenic drive through Tucson mountain park to get there, as well as a dirt road loop drive.

As the weeks roll by into spring, more and more of the cacti are coming into bloom.

I was able to hike some of the trails in the rising sun. There’s a rising suspicion in me that I’m building up quite the tan.

On my way back into town, I also stopped at Sentinel Peak to catch a bird’s eye view of Tucson.