Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Day in the Mountains

One day recently Jim and I took a drive out to the Superstition Mountains. On the way we stopped at the Superstition Mountain Museum. The museum collects, preserves and displays the artifacts, history and folklore of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction and the surrounding region. I didn't go into the museum, but just walked the grounds outside to snap a few pictures.

On the 12 acre site are reproductions of 19th Century businesses including a Wells Fargo office, stage coach stop, jail and other displays of authentic relics of the 1800's.

Many Western movies were made in nearby Apacheland Movie Ranch, which had two fires, one in 1969 and one in 2004, which finally closed its doors. Some of the movies that were filmed at this movie ranch were:

Purple Hills.................1961
Broken Land..................1961
Blood on the Arrow...........1964
Arizona Raiders..............1965
Blind Justice................1994

The little white chapel that was in Elvis Presley's movie, "Charro" survived BOTH fires at Apacheland. It was dismantled and moved piece by piece and rebuilt here. It is called the Elvis Presley Chapel.

It is filled with movie posters of all the movies that had been filmed at Apacheland.

The gallows were used in several movies, most recently in the film, "Gambler II, The Story Continues."

This is another building that survived the two fires. It is the Apacheland Barn. It was used in several movies, but was made famous for the lengthy gun battle with Audie Murphy in the movie "Arizona Raiders". It, too, was taken apart, piece by piece, and put back together at the new site.

We left this little side trip and went on to Lost Dutchman State Park. This is a beautiful park with many trails around Superstition Mountain. It is one of the State Parks that is scheduled to close June 3, 2010 due to lack of funding. There are 13 out of 22 Arizona State Parks that are closing due to money problems.

This is one of the short pathways we followed that day. Doesn't it look inviting?

We had to cross this wooden bridge. It really was nice. This was made be an Eagle Scout. Looks like all the letters were carved with a router. The message says:

As an American, I will do my best to be clean in my outdoor manners, be careful with fire, be considerate in the outdoors, and be conservation minded

Take nothing but
Leave nothing but

Leave no trace

We changed paths and headed up a little ways. I saw some of these, one of my favorite cacti. This is called Ocotillo. It gets bright orange blooms on the very tips. The green leaves hide the dangerous thorns on the branches. Beware!

This is a Palo Verde tree that is being overtaken by some kind of weed. You can see the different bunches of weeds in the tree branches.

This is a close up of the same tree. It has a bird in it. I didn't have my zoom lens on the camera. I was trying to sneak up on the bird when my husband decided to make some kind of call that he thought sounded like a bird. Yeah. He's helpful that way. Usually scares the bird right out of the tree. This bird is called a Phainopepla.

This is a much better picture.

Photo courtesy of

Here is another favorite of mine. The saguaro. All of these holes are made from a woodpecker.

The Gila Woodpecker - uses the Saguaro, and burrows through its tough outer flesh into the body of the plant where there is plenty of moisture, and a relatively cool environment shaded from the searing desert sun. Once through the skin, the bird makes a sharp downward turn and hollows out a space for itself. A cactus, being little more than a living water container would continuously lose moisture, and be open to infection if it didn't do something to protect itself, so the Saguaro begins to exude a resinous sap around the void which the bird has made. The sap gradually solidifies to form a hard, bark-like substance around the wound, rather like a scab on animal skin, only this scab doesn't go away. The woodpecker has learned to leave the newly excavated burrow for a while in order to let the sap harden, although other birds sometimes decide to make it their own before the woodpecker returns, particularly desert owls.

courtesy of The Guide to Life, the Universe and Everything

A saguaro boot.

Photo courtesy of Sonoran Desert Naturalist.

I found this large hole inside of a saguaro. This gives a good view of the inside of the cactus. You can see the "ribs" of the tall cactus.

I hope you enjoyed my trek in the mountains (actually it was a short walk) and your little lesson on the saguaro.


Brian Miller said...

wow. wonderful pics pat. sounds like an amazing place to visit...thanks for taking us along.

Wanda said...

Really enjoyed all the information about the Saguaro Cactus, Pat and how the Gila Woodpecker makes a cavity for itself. My son-in-law gave me a dried 12 inch piece of the inside of a cactus, "cactus skeleton" is what it looks like to me, a porous like bone. Loved seeing the look of a larger section and I loved the bridge, with the carving! ♥

misslynda said...

Very, very interesting post with BEAUTIFUL pictures as we have come to expect from you. I, too, like the bridge but love the chapel the most. Perhaps it is because it is painted and pretty - - - like a bride in the midst of the desert.

Anonymous said...

such beautiful, wonderful place;) I have many memories of out west as a kid, awesomr....loved the stagecoach;)

Allen said...

I always enjoy your trips, with all your pictures. It looks beautiful there.

I hope someday, I will get out and see all those place with you and your hubby. =o)

Betty said...

What gorgeous pics!
It's really hard to pick my fave.

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

very nice. you do such a good job with your picture stories that I can almost imagine I've been there. Thanks for sharing!

Rae said...

Wonderful photos. Those would be a neat places to visit.

SquirrelQueen said...

Great photos Pat, I really enjoyed the walk. I have seen photos of the Saquaro but had no idea they were home to birds, thanks for the info. It's a shame that so many of the Arizona parks will be closing.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Pat -- Thanks for sharing that great walk! You captured so much of the beauty of the desert (that a lot of people don't -- or won't -- see! Although I'm loving Florida, I still miss the desert and I'm glad for the reminder of what we loved about it. TX!