When Desert Living Meets Mother Nature Up Close

I will be the first person to tell you that I HATED the desert when I first moved here when I was a kid.  I came from the city and the first thing I did was look around and wonder, "Why in the hell would any one live here?" There was nothing, NOTHING, NOT A SINGLE THING for miles around. I immediately hated it.  Flash forward to my adult hood... I had my son and immediately began to see the desert for what it was, a beautiful, quiet place to raise kids.  Then the housing boom came and screwed that up for everyone. McManisons sprung up in every empty lot, crammed together so tightly that you can practically stick your head out of window and end up in your neighbor's house.  With it came graffiti, trash and crime.  No longer the ideal place it used to be.  Then the bubble burst and a lot of the people moved away leaving bunch of empty homes, some parts of the high desert look like ghost towns.
When the hubby and I were ready to buy a house, we wanted out of the city and something more "rural."  We found a quiet place in a decent neighborhood that we liked. Not rural but it will have to do for now.  And we have a great view of the mountains thanks to the riverbed across the street. With all the paved roads and sudden surge of businesses popping up you tend to forget that you live in the middle of no where until you are walking your dog early in the morning and encounter a pack of coyotes. Step on and get stung by an scorpion in your kitchen, or you have to call animal control because there is a snake in your car (or just yesterday in the garden!  Yikes!)   We tend to forget that we are on their turf.
Click! Caught you just hangin' out in the backyard!

As a family, we spend a good amount of time outside, educating or kids about our desert habitat.  We we quietly observe various insects, lizards and birds we find in our yard or when we are out walking the neighborhood.   This is a great learning experience for the entire family and it's free!  The best thing to do is take a digital camera and take pictures of a bug or plant or whatever creature you may see and go home and research it using sites that cater to the identification of wildlife in your local area.  Using this site, we were able to determine that the lizard pictured above was a Granite Spiny Lizard. At least that's what we think, we may be wrong but it was still fun to do the research.  Using this method we have spotted various types of birds, including owls, bats, squirrels and scorpions (from a distance of course).  Next time you are on a walk bring a camera, and take pictures of the unfamiliar, you will be surprised at what you find with a little help from the Internet.