Southwest Chicken Soup and the Saguaro Cactus

It’s mid December. The days are short, the air is crisp, and the holiday lights are sparkling. Winter has arrived and we’ve finally had a cold front roll through here in the desert southwest. In Phoenix, Arizona, this past week the thermometer barely hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit … Brrrr! I’m sure my friends to the north are either tilting their head quizzically or scowling at me.

superstition mountains arizona

Hey, when it’s been a consistent 90 plus degrees, anything much less than 70 degrees feels cold and has me putting on a sweatshirt. With that said, I think I’ve officially turned into a reptile. What other explanation could there be as to why 70 degrees would feel so cold to me? Crazy, I know! However, I must say the mornings and evenings do get into the 50’s and even 40’s, which is definitely cold and has me pop’n on the heat in the RV.

Easy Southwest Chicken SoupWith winter in full swing, it was time to make a big pot of soup, but not just any soup, Southwest Chicken Soup. Nothing like warming up from the inside out.

Considering I’m in one of my favorite places; the desert southwest, why not embrace the unique landscape and culinary flavors of the region!

With the soup simmering in the slow cooker, the RV is filled with a wonderful scent. While inhaling the delicious aroma filling the RV, I glance out the window and admire the landscape.

Saguaro Cactus

I find the Saguaro Cactus intriguing.   As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I thought this three armed cactus was a fabrication of cartoonists.  I remember watching cartoons like the Road Runner, Huckleberry Hound, and of course Bugs Bunny.  The background contained scenes of red rock, cactus, and the ever abundant tumbleweed … all foreign to a young gal growing up in northern Illinois among cornfields.

Saguaro Cactus

Each saguaro cactus is unique and appears to have a personality of its own.  It took me weeks of living amongst these beauties before I was even able to pronounce the name saguaro correctly…. pronounced:  sa-wha-ro.

Saguaro CactusThe saguaro cactus is a large, tree-sized cactus which can grow as tall as 70 feet (20 meters), and is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, some parts of southern California, and northern Mexico.

Saguaros have a relatively long life span, averaging 150-175 years of age with some living as long as 200 years.  (Hmm, makes me feel like I’m a tiny spring chicken in comparison 😀) It can take 50 to 70 years just for a saguaro to develop a side arm. Arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity … more arms lead to more flowers and fruit.

flowering saguaro cactus

Saguaros are very slow-growing and may only grow an inch or two during its first eight years.  The growth rate is determined by climate, precipitation, and location.

This army of cacti seem to have their own personality; some cute, some not, some look like proud soldiers, some like cartoon characters, and others look tired, twisted, and weathered, but no two are identical. Oh and by the way, the plural is either cacti OR cactuses – either is considered acceptable.

saguaro

AND then there is the rare crested saguaro.  Why are some crested?  Saguaros rarely grow symmetrically and often grow in odd or mis-shapen forms.

crested saguaro cactusBut on rare occasion, the growing tip produces a fan like form which is referred to as a crested or cristate saguaro.

Biologists disagree about why some saguaros grow in this unusual form.  Some thoughts; genetic mutation, lightning strike, freeze damage, but no one knows for sure why the unusual growth occurs.

Fascinating to say the least for whatever reason!

crested saguaro cactus

crested saguaro cactus

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Pros and Cons of RVing

Best thing about RV life …

Without a doubt, the best thing about RV living is the ease and spontaneity of travel. We get to travel with our own bed, kitchen, and bathroom in tow. And more importantly, I get to travel with a whole closet full of clothes and shoes. No more trying to stuff all my crap belongings into one carry on bag. Yep, there’s a sense of freedom and self-sufficiency that is unique to RV travel that I absolutely love.

Phoenix Arizona Sonoran Desert

The mere thought of traveling without my RV makes me cringe, and just thinking about stepping into an airport has me breaking out in hives, and this coming from a former Flight Attendant, but that was many moons ago. Today, home is where we park it, and our front yard changes as often or as little as we want it to. We travel on our terms, which is a very liberating feeling.

Saguaro cactus loveThat desire to change the view out our front door quite often revolves around the weather. If it’s snowing, we ain’t going! Oh sure, there are times I miss my Colorado winters, especially around Christmas, but then I think about the realities of shoveling and driving in the white stuff, and it’s all I can do to keep myself from embracing the cactus near my front door here in Arizona. “Oh dear saguaro, how I love thee … ouch!”

With mild, sunny weather in mind, we enjoy spending our winters in Arizona. It’s absolutely awesome being able to travel with the weather. If snow skiing is your thing, fantastic … we know RVers who winter camp. If you’re looking for warm weather like we do, those wheels allow us to roll in search of the perfect temps for our taste.

There are times, it’s a tad bit strange watching the national weather. Last week, while dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, I was watching the evening national news. The weather reporter was bundled up in a heavy winter coat, stocking hat, gloves, and being pelted with rain and wind as he discussed impending storms. I glanced out my RV window noticing  another beautiful sunset. There was a light breeze and increasing crispness in the air as the sun dipped behind the horizon. Thinking I might need to don a sweatshirt, I was ever so grateful bundling up in winter attire was a thing of the past for me.

Arizona sunset

It took me a moment to wrap my head around the fact that it was winter and folks to the north had already been dusted with a coating of snow.

Another thing that I find a little unusual is attending a farmers’ market surrounded by holiday decorations. Somehow, a farmer’s market in December seems a little off, but this is the perfect growing time in Arizona. The excessive heat of a desert summer is gone, allowing all kinds of produce to grow throughout the winter months.

Scottsdale Farmers' Market

I really enjoy the flavors of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and lucky for me, there are a bunch of farmers’ markets found throughout the Phoenix valley during the winter months.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Scottsdale Old Town Farmers’ Market which is open every Saturday morning until May. Talk about a great variety of produce and other gourmet goodies.

The aromas from vendor restaurants and food trucks were quick to grab my attention. My biggest dilemma was deciding what to eat for an early lunch. I also found a bunch of vendors selling one-of-a-kind gift items such as specialty jellies, jams, sauces, local honey and gourmet chocolates… yum 😋

accordion music

Local musicians often perform at the market, and artists also display their work there.  Dogs are welcome at the Old Town Farmers’ Market, and you might even find wholesome doggy treats being sold. This Scottsdale Farmers’ Market was very impressive and easily rivals one of my favorite farmers’ market located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Scottsdale Farmers' Market

Scottsdale Farmers' Market

I had every intention of visiting another farmers’ market yesterday, but my body wouldn’t cooperate which brings me to another subject …

Down side to RVing …

I know, what a surprise, there are actually cons to RVing. Thank goodness my traveling partner’s middle name is MacGyver. My husband, of more years than I care to count, comes in handy when things break. And break, they shall. It’s part of RVing. It’s not a matter of if things will break, but rather when, and are you prepared?

truck break down

And although we carry an assortment of spare parts and tools with us at all times, some things are beyond our expertise and professionals are needed. Breakdowns and repairs are probably my least favorite thing about RVing ….. BUT making the bed is right up there at the top of the list.

I swear, you need to be a contortionist or yogi to make the bed in most RVs. I love the smell of freshly washed sheets and there was a time I’d wash the sheets weekly, but trying to navigate the mattress’ tight corners tucked into a RV slide-out has me dreading this chore.  Hmm, is there a professional I could hire to do this? It’s like trying to do yoga in a square box requiring twisting and turning in ways that just aren’t natural.

Scottsdale Farmers MarketSo remember when I said I wanted to visit a new to me farmers’ market? Well, Friday I did laundry, including all the bedding, and by the time I was done making the bed, I knew something was wrong. I must’ve pulled something …. grrrr!

Contortionist I am not! What a surprise! Oh well, nothing a little ibuprofen, rest and an ice pack can’t fix, but it sure has gotten in the way of my fun … sigh!

In conclusion; if you’re thinking about RVing, remember it’s a fantastic way to travel and embrace new surroundings, but be prepared for breakdowns and start doing yoga NOW. You’ll thank me down the road 😆  No rainbows and unicorns this week.

Lake Havasu Arizona

Did you know cyber Monday has turned into cyber week? Hmm, what shall we shop for today? Hey, when you need to rest due to a pulled muscle, a gals gotta have a plan B as in, let’s go shopping! Thanks for doing your shopping by using these Amazon affiliate links. Are you done with your holiday list?
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