Gateway to the West

McDowell Mountain Range and yellow palo verde trees
McDowell Mountain Range and palo verde trees.
Even though I love to travel, I don't necessarily have to see every state. But there are certain states I've always wanted to see, and then there are the states where friends live, so those are definitely on the short list. That's how I made my decision to visit Arizona this year—my 18th state. I changed planes there a couple of years ago, but I didn't feel like I could count that.

My friend lives in Scottsdale and drove me around to see the area first. Then we decided to stop for a little hike on the Gateway Loop Trail, which is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. This was a pretty area, and I enjoyed getting to see some cactus up close. When I was in Death Valley last year, I saw no cactus and felt a little gypped by that, so this was a real treat.

Entrance to the Gateway Loop Trail
Such a beautiful entrance to the trail.
I had been curious about the holes that I've been seeing in the saguaro cactus and asked one of the park stewards about it. She explained that the woodpeckers start the holes and actually lay their eggs in there. When they are done with their house, other types of birds will make it their home. I like that it's birds making the holes, but I feel a little sad for the cactus as some of them were looking a bit like swiss cheese.

Saguaro cactus on the Gateway Loop Trail
Saguaro cactus with the state flower.
I also had someone accompany me on this trip. You may recall that I brought Norman home with me after I met him at Kennesaw National Park. He liked the idea of living in my house, but has been going stir crazy not being in the great outdoors all winter. Plus, he had been very upset with me for not taking him to San Diego in March, so I promised he could go on my next trip.

Norton the gnome on the Gateway Loop Trail

Norman's thinking about digging a hole to escape the heat
I enjoyed learning about some of the different types of cacti and the trees with the yellow flowers—palo verde, which means green stick. It gets its name from the green, stick-like trunk and limbs. It's also Arizona's state tree, and I do not believe we have those in Georgia. I wish we did because I really like them.

Exiting the Gateway Loop Trail
Even leaving the trail is beautiful!
I also liked the skies we had that day, although my friend tells me the clouds we had were unusual—that the sky is usually solid blue. There were also quite a few airplane contrails, which I rather liked as they made the skies a bit more expressive and great for photography.

Next stop: Papago Park

What's your favorite part of  the McDowell Sonoran Preserve?
Did you think this article was going to be about St. Louis?


  1. Thank you so much for coming to visit with us. It was so interesting to see where we live through your eyes.

    1. You are welcome and thank you! It truly was a great time.