Desert Wildlife

Desert Wildlife

For the past few weeks we have been staying at a ranch in the desert in Arizona. It was fun at first, but now I’m tired of it because it’s hot, dry and windy, we’re 40 miles from the nearest town, and there is no one around except for the animals.

The past few days it’s been around 90-100 degrees outside. Sometimes it’s so windy that we have to stay inside the R.V. until it dies down. I mean I don’t mind wind but let me tell you, here it’s bad! The other thing about the wind is that it’s really dusty here, so whenever the wind blows the dust moves with it.

We have been doing some things here in Arizona rather than sitting around on the ranch all day doing nothing. Tucson is only 2 hours away so about a week ago we spent the day at the Sonora Desert Museum in the Saguaro National Park. A saguaro is a type of cactus that you can only find in the Sonoran Desert.

The desert museum is basically just a long hike with all different kinds of wild animals on the way. The part that is really cool is that they are in their own habitat with just a fence around them! There was a ton of all different kinds of animals from prairie dogs to javelinas.  A javelina is a pig like animal although it is not a pig at all. It is an ancient ancestor of the hippopotamus. We also saw mountain lions, bobcats, black bears, beavers, rabbits, bighorn sheep, and lots of birds! If I had to choose a favorite it would be the mountain lion. He was just sleeping up on a rock, and we were right next to him with only a thin layer of glass between us! At first I wondered how it got up on the rock it was on, then I read something that said mountain lions can jump 20 feet in the air if they are standing on their hind legs!

I also liked the reptile exhibit, which was a room with a bunch of display cases that had snakes, spiders, frogs, toads, and scorpions in them. There was more than a dozen different kinds of snake, and more than half of them were rattlers. There was one case that was really dark with white scorpions in it, and when you press a button a black light turns on and the scorpions glow bright green.

This desert museum is in the book called 500 places to take take your kids before they grow up, and they were right! I am sure glad I got to go there before I grow up! And I hope to go back there again. Oh, and speaking of desert wildlife, yesterday while I was feeding the goats and sheep, in the feeding trough I spotted a tiny newborn jackrabbit! It was SO soft and cute! First I asked my mom if we could keep it as a pet, and she looked at me like I had 2 heads! Then I researched what to do and it said to put the rabbit back where you found it because the mother put it there herself. She scatters them in different places so predators (like my dog) will only get one instead of the whole litter. She avoids the babies at all times until it is time for her to feed them. She does this so she won’t attract predators herself. 

 
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Deep in the Caves

Deep in the Caves

While we were staying in New Mexico I was told that we were going to go to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. My parents had told me a lot about it and I couldn’t wait to go. I must say it was one of my favorite places we have been so far. I can’t even recall how many times I said the words: “This is so awesome!” Unfortunately we did not see any bats. We were not there during the right time of year, but that didn’t stop me from wearing a Batman shirt. The last time my parents were there 20 years ago my dad said he also wore a Batman shirt. What a coincidence right? My dad even brought a Batman action figure!

It reminded me of the Mines of Moria from the Lord of the Rings more than the bat cave. The caverns are a huge cave system that goes more than 800 feet underground. The hike down into the caverns was a path that just went deeper and deeper. There were huge stalagmites and stalactites everywhere. There were a lot of small pools. The largest room was 8.2 acres. And the hike around it is one mile long. It takes about an hour and thirty minutes to hike all the way around it. This big room (it is actually called “The Big Room,” very original) is somewhat in the shape of a cross. During the walk around this room we saw a cave called the “Bottomless Pit.” It just goes straight down, however, it is not bottomless. There are two ways that people can get to the bottom. There is the natural entrance, which is about a mile long hike. Then there are the elevators. We took the hike down but we took the elevator up. It was very long for an elevator ride. Even though we did not see any bats, the caves themselves were still awesome.