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Postcard #2 -- Exploring Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona

     Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain Park, Coronado National Forest, Sabino Canyon Recreation Area–we reveled in Tucson’s location, surrounded by these vast desert and mountain open spaces on a previous visit.  The Sonoran Dessert Museum, Arizona State Museum, 4th Avenue shopping district, and historic neighborhoods also enriched that 2008 trip, although we were underwhelmed by downtown Tucson.


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Postcard #1-- Exploring Southern Arizona

     The stars here seem to multiply the longer you look at the night sky.  And the silence is almost complete—at least until you gradually realize a Border Patrol helicopter is approaching! Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument adjoins the Mexican border in south central Arizona.  It is a long way from anywhere and smack-dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. We loved it here.

     Organ Pipe is one of those places we’ve long wanted to visit, and it has not disappointed.  The Sonoran Desert is full of life, including quite a few species found nowhere else on this planet.  We’ve wandered through forests of giant Saguaro, arms seemingly raised in greeting. The monument’s namesake cactus, the Organ Pipe, with multiple stems straining skyward, are found only here in the US, though they are more common down Mexico way. 

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Postcard from Oregon and Washington

    Paradise is crowded. Especially on a mid-summer weekend. And no wonder; over three million people live within about three hours’ drive.  It took us a couple of days pulling the trailer up I-5, and then on the third day waiting in a long line at the gate, before we could get to Paradise.
    It was worth the journey. Our guide, a National Park Service volunteer and intern for the National Geology Society, answered questions about the carpets of blooming wildflowers, but her guided walk focused, naturally, on geology.  Marissa elucidated–even demonstrated as we watched a fizzing antacid tablet blow the lid off a jar–how forces of vulcanology and glaciation created Paradise.
    This Paradise, on the south-facing slope of Mt. Rainier in Washington state at 5400 feet elevation, was the northernmost point on our two-week, Pacific Northwest RV trip with Janet’s sister, Gail. Here we toured the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center and hiked trails across flower-strewn meadows affording views of waterfalls and glaciers adorning–and carving–the 14,410 foot-high volcano.


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