|My last day at Gilbert Ray campground|
|Eye-level canyon wren nest in a cholla|
|A madrone tree at my house.|
|Palo verde trunk|
|Palo verde twigs|
|My spot at Colossal Cave campground|
The next night I tried out the Colossal Caves campground, which is REALLY wild. You have to repeatedly cross washes to get to some of the campsites, but they do have water and restrooms. I was the only one in my campground most of the time.
The next day while exploring around the campground I discovered two saguaros cuddling other plants ~ a small soaptree like the ones by my chair here, and a little prickly pear cactus. While I was sketching the one with the prickly pear, two mule deer approached within twenty feet of me before one saw me.
|Stalactites at Colossal Cave|
Since I was so close, I visited Colossal Cave. I was quite pleased with the tour. There are miles and miles of tunnels not offered on the regular tour, but the ones you do see have some interesting features.
It was pretty cold staying down in the creek bottoms, though, so I opted for a nice night in a motel to get warmed up, have a good night's sleep, and a bath. Since it was so cold at night that I had been sleeping in all my clothes, it was also quite nice to get "refreshed" as well.
|Hohokam mortar, inset is from above.|
|Hohokam mortar and side-view|
|Javelina diggings at a kangaroo rat mound.|
|I couldn't identify these.|
I saw a lot of neat tracks during my two weeks visit, from dainty ground-squirrel tracks to cougar pug marks (the cougar track was confirmed by a ranger), and I found a great "track tale" written on what had been a kangaroo rat mound by digging javelinas. I devoted a whole page to that in my sketchbook.
|My catfood can camp stove.|
|Monument Wash, Saguaro Nat. Pk.|
I had been keeping track of the weather on the cell phone Dan had lent me. When the weather app forecast snow for my final night, I chickened out and opted for a motel again. Mimi helped me jam my two extra blankets into my suitcase, and I gave away my camp chair and everything else I couldn't squeeze in, then tidied up the Jeep to remove the traces of my two-week residency. Then it was over: rental car returned, plane caught and flown, my car retrieved at the home airport and driven home.
|Sunset in the saguaros.|