From the title I imagine you can tell I'm not in Minnesota. We had a chance to make a quick getaway to Phoenix for a few days. This morning I wanted to show the kids the desert so we headed up Highway 87 into the Tonto National Forest. Forest only in name because it is cactus and scrub brush everywhere. I was a bit perturbed to see that every place that had a developed recreational area required a pass to use it. If your vehicle didn't have a pass you could be ticketed. Now I have no problem paying to use facilities in order for those areas to be maintained BUT there was nowhere to buy a pass. You had to drive back into town (11 or so miles) and find a vendor. Talk about not happy! Eventually we pulled over at a trail head that didn't require a pass and hiked around for a bit.
The kids quickly found out that in the desert everything either is sharp or it's poisonous. Some of the cactus are in bloom and saw some fun birds. The highlight though was stumbling upon (literally) a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. Being from Minnesota the first thing the kids did when I told them was to come running and tried to get close for a picture. Did dad let them? Of course not, they would have been in the way of ME getting close for a better picture. Luckily the little fellow was more interested in slithering away from us to find some shade.
Other good birds so far include lots of Turkey Vultures, Great-tailed Grackles, and Jamie saw a Gambel's Quail as we were driving along. Lots of Lark Buntings along the road but no Road Runner yet. That's the one I promised the kids they'd see.
Not sure where we're headed tomorrow but I'm hoping for more good sightings everywhere.