View from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, during a terrific sunset


Last winter I stayed in Marfa, Texas during the month of January. When February rolled around, it was time to transition to a new place called Bisbee – a small and historic mining town down in Southeast Arizona. Southeast Arizona is known for its “sky islands”, or regions of isolated mountains surrounded by a “sea” of otherwise barren and desolate desert. While I had not learned the term until my stay in Arizona, I had technically visited one in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park in Far West Texas.

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A cactus forest brimming with biodiversity

This post is about a visit to Organ Pipe Cactus Monument in late February, 2022. It was written months later, in May 2022.

Organ Pipe National Monument is truly one of America’s treasures. It is famous for its concentration of Organ Pipe Cactus – rare in the United States, but common in the Sonora and Baja California regions of Mexico, our neighbor to the south. The cactus is named for its resemblance to the pipe organ, a musical instrument found in many churches, cathedrals, and concert halls. The last time I remember seeing a pipe organ was in the campus auditorium of my alma mater, the University of Florida. While I can appreciate its namesake, I personally associate the Organ Pipe Cactus with something more aquatic… The wavy manner in which the cactus’ arms reach to the sky remind me of something that should be underwater, like an octopus or a squid. In any case, this particular cactus is a sight to behold – it is unlike any plant you have ever seen.

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