STORIES FROM THE WOODS XXII~ Front Page ~ Stunewslaguna.com

Saguaro, icon of the Southwest is the latest stop on my quest for the national parks’ great outdoors
By FITZ MAURICE

You might not be able to pronounce “saguaro” but you do know this treelike cactus as the icon of the southwest. You’ve seen the saguaro as that funny human-figured cactus with its arms raised up into the sky.
This legendary image is prevalent throughout the southwest. American Indian tribes of the Sonoran Desert honor the saguaro as did their ancestors, and have mastered ways to respectfully benefit from its remarkable food source. Everything from jams, spices, liquor and healing remedies can be made from the skin and flowers of this cactus. Native birds such as woodpeckers, finches and flickers frequently make their nests by pecking a deep hole inside the cactus, providing a safe shelter for their young. The saguaro creates callus tissue on this hole/wound, and when the saguaro dies, the callus remains, forming a “saguaro boot ” which was used by Native Americans to store water in.
I had been living in Arizona for two months and had already seen the saguaro cactus as far as the eye can see – so why would I go to Saguaro National Park?

I was amazed once inside the invisible lines of this park; the desert became alive for me in all its glory. I was surprised how impressive it all was – with idyllic species of cacti and succulents, all blooming in array of bright colors.
To be in a national park during its super bloom, or ultimate season, is a dream come true. I have learned to plan a trip to any national park when its best face dictates. April in a desert park is enjoyable, but I wouldn’t want to be in that sandy oven in August!

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Look at who I met while out in Saguaro National Park: Christopher Wolfe

Christopher was hiking Saguaro when we crossed paths in the middle of the desert. He is on a private mission to go to 100 Parks this year in honor of the 100th anniversary of our National Park Service. How cool is that!
Just two days after Christopher and I met in the hot Arizona desert he sent me photos of him in Maine – happily being splashed by Atlantic Ocean waves in Acadia National Park.
It’s always reassuring when you actually meet other like-minded spirits. We’re birds of a feather. These are the kind of intriguing people I am meeting while in the Great Outdoors. Here’s hoping you’ll all get out of those indoors and into the Great Outdoors!
To see the National Park Paintings created on my quest, stop by Woods Cove Art Gallery, 1963 South Coast Hwy, in Laguna Beach.

2016 is the Fourth Year of my QUEST –  to paint ‘live’ in every National Park in America ! Now having totally committed my life and talents to help promote and protect the Parks, I am traveling by truck and trailer to each Park. Then hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene. Finally setting up with portable easel and oil paints, I set out to capture in paint, the wonders that make each National Park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world !
Click Link to SEE: National Park Paintings:  WWW.nationalparkpaintings.com/index.html