I have always liked the majestic look of the Saguaro cactus, so tall and erect. Living part time in Arizona affords us the opportunity to visit a beautiful national park located in Tucson – Saguaro National Park. We got up early so we could be there before the heat of the day. Our goal was to shoot these cacti, as there are thousands upon thousands of them. By 7:30am we were off for the two-hour drive.
A funny thing happened on the way to shooting the Saguaros. I barely shot any – just one photo. Within a few hundred yards of driving the main loop (dirt road) we came across a rattlesnake slithering across. By the time we stopped and fumbled with our cameras, he (or she) was gone. Valuable lessons were learned: always have your camera at the ready (not in the trunk of the car) and have one person be the spotter while the other readies their equipment. Disappointed that we didn’t get a shot we drove on. And, within a tenth of a mile, there was another rattlesnake on the road. Not sure, but maybe it was the same one who slithered through a shortcut? Again we stopped quickly, and immediately applied our lessons learned from moments before. How often can one apply learning so quickly? We cautiously approached the snake – my first shots were from twenty feet away. As we got braver, we moved within eight feet and shot away. As long the rattler doesn’t curl up, it won’t strike. At least that is what we were told. Regardless, eight feet is close enough!
After encountering the two snakes within a few hundred yards, we were spooked. Everywhere we walked we did so very carefully. It’s amazing how long a ¼ mile walk can be when you are watching every step. At our first official stop, we wanted to shoot these Saguaro. But, before long we came across a tortoise – a very fine one. Knowing they move very slowly we were able to get quite close. After some nice facials, we moved on down the road.
Still wanting to shoot some Saguaro, we stopped at what looked like a nice one next to a flowering Ocotillo. Before I could set up Kathryn noticed another fascinating critter – the Horny Lizard, better known as the Horny Toad. It just looks poisonous so we kept our distance, similar to that of the rattlesnake. After a few shots another tourist stopped by. It turns out he was a leading expert on Lizards of the horned variety. We learned that the lizard (or toad), despite its outward appearance, is not poisonous at all. So, armed with that information, we moved much closer and shot away.
With the heat of the day approaching, it was time to leave. We had a great time at this beautiful park, even though we barely shot the Saguaro. It’s funny how things happen along the way. Here is the one and only Saguaro shot.
Semper Fi. And, happy shooting!