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WOW Arizona | Christopher & MaryEllen | Interview


I grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin, surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods, and my family were regular campers and road-trippers all around the country. My love for being in nature continued to grow as I got older, and being surrounded by trees, birds, flowers, and the great outdoors has always been a way for me to relax and work through any conundrums I might be having. My cousin Dara, who lives in Baltimore, knows this about me and also that I am a complete plant lady, and she recommended I check out Wild Outdoor World in Tucson, which I had never heard of before… but I was amazed when I started doing research, and was introduced to Christopher and MaryEllen.


Wild Outdoor World is an incredible place, run by two people who are truly invested in the harmony of nature, plants, birds, animals, and of course cannabis. They provide outdoor experiences that are peaceful and relaxing with the option to learn a little bit, and focus on working with nature instead of claiming it as our own and forcing it to bend to our whims. If you’re looking for a cannabis-friendly nature retreat, I would absolutely recommend checking them out… once you read this interview, I’m pretty sure you’ll be sold too.

 
 

Hi Christopher and MaryEllen! Thanks for taking the time to meet with me! I was recommended to check out WOW Arizona (which stands for Wild Outdoor World) by a friend, who said it would be “right up my alley” (and so far I think she’s spot on!). I know that WOW offers a lot of things, from lodging to outdoor activities to growing and hash-making classes. I’ve talked to you many times right before you head out to guide a birding hike, press fresh blueberry flower, or in the middle of tending your beautiful outdoor grow. Can you tell me more about what someone would experience while visiting WOW, and maybe even staying for a few days? 


Upon arrival, friends would be welcomed to our oasis, with restored native plants and flowers dazzling their eyes with textures and colors only experienced in the southwest. We like to share treats (both infused and not) and spend evenings on our Hummingbird Patios, surrounded by over twenty-five feeders, sharing a glass of our hand-crafted Dr.Decadence Artisanal Fruit Wine and and experiencing the sun painting the looming Santa Catalina Mountains a kaleidoscope of pastel hues. The birds of the day ‘exit the symphony’ in a specific order as the denizens of the night emerge. A flickering fire in the chiminea, dim lights on the patio and the nighthawks and ‘bat patrol’ circling overhead bring an evening to a close.

Mornings are special, with tea, coffee and homemade muffin aromas welcoming our guests, with the quiet overture of the bird symphony starting at first light. Have a nice spoon of our organic rosin-based Cannasugar in your beverage and greet the inquisitive roadrunner, tapping on the kitchen door. In late summer, bird activity is the greatest and your morning can start as early or late as you would like!


We hike and bike over thirty miles of trails right from our doorstep. The Coronado National Forest is ‘our neighbor’ and we would be happy to introduce you! If you just want to unwind, we have intimate paths and seating throughout our grounds beckoning you to “stop, look, listen, absorb, recharge”. We are an eBird Hotspot and with so many creatures frequenting our location, many guests have never left our grounds! Meditate, paint, photograph, puff and pass… our place and pace are ideal for all.


(Christopher-CJ) So, that’s kind of the “brochure” explanation. We have been doing habitat restoration for twenty-five years, and the place is filled with creatures, birds, flowers, and life. We have been engaged in taking care of people medicinally with cannabis for over fifteen years (over forty-five for me, personally). We have gardens named after people whose ashes are scattered there, people for whom we provided compassionate cannabis care BEFORE it was even legal to do so. When one visits, please ask about Jeff’s Garden & Pete’s Garden. They were beautiful people and we would love to tell you about them.

WOW specializes in habitat creation and restoration, and you are also known for your butterfly gardens. Why is environmental education so important to you, and how does cannabis come into play there?


The ‘Wild Outdoor World’ is fascinating, but, at times, can be intimidating to those never immersed into it. We believe in a “gentle reintroduction of mankind into his environment”. Finding the familiar AND the new, this grand adventure can begin right outside our door where we comfortably explain the web of life surrounding you.


Cannabis while observing nature, it’s place within nature … for humans, cannabis has always been ethnobotanical since it’s historical emergence, with usage ebbing and flowing within the tides of social morés. Our gardens’ recuperative aspects— the aromas, the wildlife, the soundscape and cannabis— all mesh into embracing, soothing natural arms that relax you, reminding you of what is really important. If our place provides just the *slightest* touch to your heart and soul, we have succeeded.


(Christopher-CJ) Personally, cannabis and nature have been my pain relief and solace for dealing with some lifetime health issues. MaryEllen’s family health history is such that she uses cannabis as a prophylaxis effort, as well as for sleep and arthritis. I have extensively studied the scientific literature and am happy to share any helpful information with our guests, be it in casual conversation or in a fully cited instructional program. Of course, I will gladly share all of our cannabis creations while we do so. WOW now also means Wonderful Organic Weed!


(MaryEllen) From the time I was 10 years old, with arthritic knees (Rheumatic Fever damage), the pain woke me at least once a night, every night. Not anymore… now I sleep through the night. In the past 4 years that I have been using cannabis for sleep aid, the two times that I forgot to eat a medicinal dose, I have woken up twice from the throbbing pain. That’s when I realized I had forgotten to eat my medicine before bed. When I eat a small chunk of cannabis oil about an hour or an hour and ½ before bedtime, I sleep through the night, wake up refreshed, with no “drug half-life” hangover. It is glorious.

What is your favorite bird… and why?


(MaryEllen) The birds that I am totally in awe of in how they take care of their family and community are the Harris’s Hawks. The Harris’s Hawks hunt as a family and literally take care of each other. If one gets hurt, they bring it food until it can join the hunt again. They totally care about/for each other for years. Hunting? They triangulate, and hunt together, working out the angles. They are smart enough to have some sort of system, of which I am unaware, to communicate with each other. If you are lucky enough to see them in action, it is on the order of a train wreck that you can’t stop watching, because their prey may be cute, fuzzy bunnies, or squirrels. Their level of expertise is extraordinary. Suffice to say, you definitely don’t want to play pool with these guys. They have the angles figured to perfection. I am constantly blown away at how the birds take care of their own and their community. Community, is all species in the yard, be they bird or mammal. Every bird seems to understand the warning sound that a predator is near from every other bird regardless of the kind of bird. They even understand squirrel alerts and the squirrels understand the bird alerts. Some even sit on a perch over a snake, making a sound that they only make for that particular kind of snake, and stay there carrying on to warn EVERYONE. I love that community care that they have regardless of color, size, or species.


(Christopher-CJ) As of *right now*, I have a diurnal and nocturnal favorite. These change with time, I truly love them all. By day, it is the hummingbird. Beautiful, acrobatic, resilient and fierce. Some of these flying jewels migrate thousands of miles twice a year. Technically, they are the fastest vertebrate creature on the planet (when measured in regards to body length/distance travelled). They are so fierce that the Aztecs had a god named after them, Huitzilopochtli, and believed fallen warriors returned to earth as these ‘dart hurlers’.

By night, it is the Great Horned Owl. We have Owlie Wendell Holmes and Louisa May Owlhoot, who have been fixtures here for years. They are that calm presence that does not fight, does not engage in loud raucous arguments; they are just that apex predator that silently tolerates you for only so long, then eats you. Their anatomical aspects are fascinating, from the ‘fixed’ eyes to the uneven ear positionings, the rotational aspect of one of their claws in the zygodactyl arrangement of their talons, all propelling this creature to the king of the night.

 
 

Where are you located, and how can people find you to book excursions and a stay? 


We are about twenty-five miles north of the very center of Tucson, 5494 E Edwin Road. From Tucson Airport, it is a forty minute drive.


Our place is at the end of the road; gated, private and secluded, with incredible views of colorful sunsets. We have great trails and seating areas throughout the three acre property and the trails continue into the Santa Catalina Mountains.


Contacting us is relatively easy:

Web sites: https://wowarizona.org, the Gallery is extensive and growing. The site was recently updated and we continue to add more photos and content. https://411on420.net is our Cannabis & Your Health site, with continuing additions of cannabis-related health information. You can also phone or text us at 520-907-8735… please leave a message, if we’re watching creatures or with guests you will get voicemail. We respond to both as soon as possible, usually at the close of day or first thing in the morning. Our email for requests, questions, and bookings is cj@wowarizona.org.


We will be booking informal “Tasty Teaching Tours” for the fall season. Basic information on indoor/outdoor growing/harvesting/curing and rosin processing in Arizona followed by a sampling of our organically, on-site grown cannabis and solventless rosin. Email or text to stay informed on pending dates.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?


Our place is “Immersed In Nature” from a literal and metaphorical aspect. Come share it all, relax, reconnect, see, smell, taste the life around you.

 

Check out more awesome local businesses.

 



Heidi Keyes is the Founder of Puff, Pass & Paint, and Co-Founder & President of Cannabis Tours. Heidi writes about her experiences, sharing her advice, travel tips, and wisdom in Puff, Pass Ponder.

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