A stroll down the arroyo

An arroyo is a stream bed that only fills up during a flash flood, when the desert gets more rain than the ground can absorb. We’ve had so much rain this year that our little arroyo has deepened by at least a foot. Let’s check it out.

Here is the entrance to the wash, where the water crosses the road and flows between the yards.

To an apartment-dweller these past 15 years, this a magical place. The trees on either side are mesquite, acacia, and Palo Verde.

My daughters join me as we enter a green tunnel. They’re telling me how mosquitoes sound when they buzz around your ears.

Some variety of cholla cactus, these suckers are nasty.

This acacia is so green and fluffy! It hide the thorns that lie in wait on every single twig.

Thornless prickly pear. These are worse than regular prickly pear, because each of those dots are fine hairs that stick in you by the hundreds. A flamethrower is pretty much the only way to deal with them.

Thanks for coming with me for our little walk down the wash! One more weather pic:

Jumping cholla flowers

Adventures in monsoon season

Here in the American Southwest, we’re right in the middle of a robust monsoon season. Yesterday it was cloudy all day, giving us a break from the 100+ degree heat.

That afternoon, I stepped outside for a look at the sky and saw a huge dark storm heading toward us from the east. It was dark clouds and a solid wall of rain. What was even more fun was that my poor husband was due to be driving home from work. Nothing to do but wait it out.

Soon the rain began, quickly flooding our little desert landscape. The river in the top left used to be our road.

Over the course of an hour, visibility dropped. We could barely see out of our windows. It was like being submerged in an upright ocean.

The rain slackened, and we began looking around to see what had changed. First thing we noticed was bugs pouring out of holes in the ground. These mayfly things were pouring out like smoke and flying away. It was weird and creepy. I tried to get a picture, but it didn’t turn out. We also saw at least one centipede come out.

Then we started seeing spadefoot toads started popping out of the ground. I’d read about them coming out of the ground in the desert after a rain, but seeing them just appear was amazing. They instantly started catching bugs with their tongues. They must have been very hungry after their long hibernation. My kids went crazy trying to catch them.

The water came down from the high desert and flash flooded our little neighborhood. Our tiny wash out back became a raging torrent. So did our street.

The flood branched off and flooded into our already flooded back yard.

Amazingly, the flood abated in just a few hours. My husband came driving up in water up to his hubcaps, but he finally made it home. He said that the water was rushing across the road in multiple places, and there were cars just stopped and waiting for it to go down. It took him an extra hour to get home.

So that was our adventure yesterday! I’m a little concerned about what storms we might have the rest of the weekend, since we have more in the forecast. We haven’t even lived in this house a month, so it’s exciting!