Mike Breiding's Epic Road Trips: January 2016

South and Central Arizona Road Trip

 

Organ Pipe Cactus, Big Red Rocks and Some Strange and Wonderful Looking Plants at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Intro

When long time friend John who hails from the Maidens VA area decided he should have a little winter getaway what could be a better place than the gorgeous Sonoran Desert?

The idea was to escape the gloom and cold of winter but this was to be one of those winters where things got reversed - at least for a while.
And so when John arrived by air in Tucson it was pouring down rain and colder here than where he had just come from in Virginia. Crap...

The rainy weather did not last but it did leave a welcome 1.5 inches in the desert which helped keep it green and encourage some new ground cover growth.

During the planning stages of John's visit we talked about a road trip while he was here. At the top of his list of places to visit was the Sedona area. Once I knew that I started planning the trip and this is what we ended up with.

Route map for Arizona Road Trip with John

This nearly 800 mile loop would take us through some very interesting and varied landscape with all kinds of groovy plants to enjoy. The loop would include stops at Organ Pipe NM, Sedona and Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
This was John's first trip to the Sonoran Desert so he was like a kid in a candy store.

Click on the photos below for a larger image.

Monday, 11 January 2016

We left Tucson at 6am on Monday, January 11. Our first leg of the trip would take us out Arizona State Route 86 also knows as the Ajo Highway. Ajo Highway intersects Kinney road which is about 2 minutes from our place in Tucson Estates. This made the start of the trip very easy and we quickly left the lights of civilization behind as we drove west into the still dark desert and into the heart of the Tohono O'odham Nation Reservation.

Route from Tucson to Organ Pipe NM

The Tohono O'odham Nation stretches 90 miles across Pima County and into Mexico.


My first trip to Organ Pipe was in the 90s. Betsy and I had flown out to Tucson on her spring break, rented a car, borrowed some camping equipment and then, like today, headed west into the Tohono O'odham Nation Reservation. On that trip we got our first look at Sells, Arizona in the heart of the reservation. At that time Sells, the capital of the Tohono O'odham Nation, was one of the trashiest and most depressing places I had ever seen.

My how things have changed! Money generated from tribal Casinos has made it possible to make major quality of life changes in Sells. Improvements in housing, health care and education have transformed Sells.

 

John and I rolled into Sells shortly after 7AM. Our plan was to stop here for breakfast at the Desert Rain Cafe. The place had been recommended to me by a fellow hiker in the Tucson Hiking MeetUP Group for which I lead hikes. The Desert Rain Cafe web site clearly states they are open "Monday – Friday 6:30am until 3:00pm".
But, they were closed. I have since contacted via email Brian Hendricks who is the manager about the closure. I have yet to receive a reply.

Photo from the Desert Rain web site

The Desert Rain Cafe where we had planned to have breakfast.
CLOSED - time for "Plan B"

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is "Plan B"

When John and I saw this place we thought we had been mysteriously transported to Mexico. This place is only a stones throw from the wanna be trendy Desert Rain Cafe.
We parked in the adjacent dirt lot and ordered while one women rolled out dough and two other women threw tortillas into the air like pizza crusts. In the back an older gentleman split mesquite branches to be used for the grill which was made from an old steel drum and topped with expanded metal grill.

After ordering we were told we could wait in our vehicle and the burros would be brought out to us.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the real deal. On site home made tortillas cooked fresh over an open fire. These big boys were 5 bucks each. When the fella handed them to John through the window, John gave him twelve bucks. He turned and spoke some Spanish to his co-workers who all looked up and gave us a hearty "Thank You!" for the 2 buck tip.
I moved the van to the other side of the lot next to an abandoned ruin of a building and we had our breakfast. Neither of us could finish them and they were snacked on later.
This trip is getting of to good start!

The distance from Sells to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Kris Eggle Visitors Center is about 85 miles. The beginning of the 21 mile Ajo Mountain Drive we planned to drive is directly across from the visitor's center on the east side of the N Ajo Sonoita Hwy.
Along with numerous stops to check out cool cacti we would also be hiking the Bull Pasture Trail.

21 mile Ajo Mountain Drive - Google maps

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This was John's first visit and I was envious of that. Nothing can recreate that "first time" feeling that this awe inspiring landscape evokes. To say nothing of all the interesting and amazing plant life.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

A little bit of info.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a U.S. National Monument and UNESCO biosphere reserve located in extreme southern Arizona which shares a border with the Mexican state of Sonora. The park is the only place in the United States where the Organ Pipe Cactus grows wild. Along with Organ Pipe, many other types of cacti, as well as other desert flora native to the Yuma Desert section of the Sonoran Desert region grow here.
The Park is a beautiful preservation of the American Southwest. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is 517 square miles (1,338 square kilometers) in size. In 1976 the monument was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, and in 1977 95% of Organ Pipe Cactus was declared a wilderness area.

Source: WikiPedia

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Although John and I would not be venturing into the area mentioned below there were still many reminders to stay alert and be cautious.

After 11 years, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument reopens
The “most dangerous national park” has been largely closed to the public for the last 11 years. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, on the southern Arizona border, once saw a steady flow of immigrants – and drug runners – from Mexico. On Aug. 9, 2002, ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed while chasing a cartel hit squad, prompting park officials to close nearly 70 percent of the monument in 2003. Some small areas were later reopened.

Source: © 2016 HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here we are at our first stop on the Ajo Mountain Drive.

Stenocereus thurberi, the organpipe cactus, is a species of cactus native to Mexico and the United States. The species is found in rocky desert. Two subspecies are recognized based on their distribution and height. The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is named for the species.

Its English common name is derived from its resemblance to a pipe organ. It is locally known as pitaya dulce, Spanish for "sweet pitaya" or sweet cactus fruit.

Source: WikiPedia

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This specimen is about 15 feet tall.

In the heart of it's range in Mexico, mainly in Sonora and southern Baja California the Stenocereus thurberi can reach heights of nearly 30 feet with width to match.

Distribution of Stenocereus thurberi

The snippet above is from a document produced by the Learning Center of the American Southwest. If you click on the image above you can read the entire document.
Some of the info contained in the document is based on "The Organ Pipe Cactus By David A. Yetman".

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here John takes a closer look at an Organ Pipe cactus skeleton.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a good comparison of both the Saguaro and Organ Pipe Cactus both dead and alive.

Saguaro Skeleton

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Typical scenery on some of the upper slopes. A ground cover of Brittlebush and Palo Verde dominates here. The Organ Pipe cactus occurs mostly on south facing slopes and this might account for the absence of these towering cacti. The geology?

Geology of the area is the result of explosive volcanic eruptions producing rhyolitic lava flows and pyroclastic welded tuff deposits, followed by extensive block faulting causing uplifting of the layers. These uplifted deposits also form most of the structure of the Sauceda Mountains to the north.

Source: Cabeza Prieta Natural History Association

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I once heard someone describe Arizona as "one huge rock garden". Although there are many areas of dense coniferous and deciduous forest, the "rock gardens" are what most people see and remember.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Where is a geologist when you need one!?

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About a half hour into our drive around the Ajo Mt loop we spotted this tattered and faded blue flag. We got out to investigate.

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This sign was posted near an old wagon road which is now a trail. We followed the trail back into the desert a short distance. Read the last paragraph.

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This is what the blue flag was marking. This barrel was most likely placed here by the group "Humane Borders".

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I asked Professor Bruner to translate the barrel text for us.

It is rather poorly written (the Spanish is fine but the information is awkward). I'll do my best to make it make sense. I will include a couple of notes at the bottom." ~JB

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Warning! Do not cross the desert!

Yellow sign** at right:
"Warning!
Do not expose your life to the elements.
It's not worth it!"

The desert is very dangerous; you can die in the attempt. This map shows the distances a young, healthy person can walk. You could walk up to four days and you still wouldn't make it to Tucson and certainly not to Phoenix.
Some people who go prepared with water, appropriate clothes and do not have any type of problem*, may not be able to walk this distance because they will face the following problems:
--The temperature reachers 0º C (32º) at night and up to 46º C (114º)during the day. At night it is difficult and dangerous to walk because you can twist your ankle, fall into a ravine, get stuck by cactus needles, be bitten by a snake (rattlesnake), stung by a scorpion, and don't think the group will wait or help you.
--The others will carry on their way and leave you alone.
--It is not a path for women and children. Don't try to cross the desert; it is a threat to your life.
The desert can slowly kill you!
If you need help, please call:
Grupo Beta 631-312-6180
Border Patrol 1-877-872-7435

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Source: Jeff Bruner

"Notes:
*'any type of problem': It seems they are referring to physical or medical issues.
**I like this sign.
In particular the little symbol at the bottom left: 'No potable water.'" ~JB

Here is more info about the water stations


Most of the deaths in border crossings come from dehydration, so in 2001 we established and continue to maintain a network of water stations in the region. Thirty-five stations are now serviced by thousands of volunteers. Since 2001 we have dispensed more than 100,000 gallons of water and we’re still counting.
Permits and agreements to place and maintain the water stations have been reached with a variety of government agencies including the U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Pima County, Ariz., the City of Tucson, Ariz., Grupo Beta in Sonora, Mexico, and private property owners along the border. Most Humane Borders water stations consist of a single 65-gallon barrel of water, while others may have up to half a dozen barrels.

Source: Humane Borders

We hopped back in the van and it was no time at all until we spotted a distant figure walking along the side of the road. As we drew closer more details of the fellow walking towards us appeared: a backpack, a woolen bedroll slung over his shoulder and a black plastic water jug.
I waved, he waved and smiled and then we were both on own separate ways.
We had just encountered a "crosser".

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

For the duration of the drive it was mile after mile of beautiful views.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

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Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here was a real treat!! A huge clump of strawberry hedgehog cactus AKA Engelmann's hedgehog cactus ((Echinocereus engelmannii)). Check out the Google images here.

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Spiny little devil!

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There are nearly 30 species of cacti in Organ Pipe NM.
Here is another one: The Senita Cactus (Lophocoreus schottii). Note the bristly tips.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The densely packed spines block up to 80% of the suns rays at their delicate growing tip.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Another common name for Lophocoreus schottiiis is "Old Man Cactus".

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The south facing slopes have the highest density of the Organ Pipe Cacti. The reason? It is very sensitive to freezing and there is less likelihood of this occurring on the warmer south facing slopes.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Not far from the trail head for the Bull Pasture trail, John and I spotted this "window" at Arch Canyon.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is looking south toward the Bull Pasture trailhead and picnic area.

TAjo Loop area map - Organ Pipe National Monument

Click on the above image for a full sized map of Organ Pipe National Monument

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Ajo Mountain Drive Entrance 31.95387°N, 112.79949°W 1,645 feet
Bull Pasture Trailhead 32.01619°N, 112.71182°W 2,330 feet
Bull Pasture Trail End 32.01437°N, 112.69815°W 3,280 feet

When we arrived at the trailhead there were two 12 passenger vans parked there. We would play tag with the occupants for the entire hike.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Besides seeing some big Organ Pipe cacti we saw some jumbo Chain Fruit Cholla AKA "Jumping Cholla" (Cylindropuntia fulgida) as well.

The "jumping cholla" name comes from the ease with which the stems detach when brushed, and sometimes they even jump short distances. Often the merest touch will leave a person with bits of cactus hanging on their clothes to be discovered later when either sitting or leaning on them.
The ground around a mature plant will often be covered with dead stems, and young plants are started from stems that have fallen from the adult. They attach themselves to desert animals and are dispersed for short distances.
Other names for this cactus include chain fruit cholla, cholla brincadora (jumper), and velas de coyote (coyote's candle).

Source: WikiPedia

There is an excellent overview of the Genus Opuntia (incl. Cylindropuntia, Grusonia, and Corynopuntia) here.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is one of the few baby Organ Pipe Cactus John and I encountered.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

 

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The higher we climbed the more dramatic and sweeping the views became.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Dead Saguaros can look somewhat bizarre at times.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

When we caught up with the van occupants we chatted with them for a bit. It turns out they were college students from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa on a month long field trip. The class was the "Ecology of the Southwest". The class is taught by Eric Baack assistant professor of biology. Lucky them!!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

They were stopping frequently and we caught pieces of their conversations. Eric was quizzing them on this and that and the students were taking turns discussing their observations. Sounded like lots of fun.

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Another nice clump of Strawberry Hedgehog and a young Organ Pipe.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The views were amazing! I was sure wishing my Winky was with us!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Before we knew it we had reached the turn around point.
It wasn't long before the Luther College students arrived. We chatted with them a bit more, bade them farewell, and were then back down the trail.


It was now around mid-day and soon we were on our way someplace completely different.
Next stop: The Red Rocks of Sedona.


**********************************

ADDENDUM
The students from Luther College mentioned above blogged about their trip. You can read it here.


Just shortly after John and I left the Organ Pipe area things heated up a bit.

US aids Mexico in arrest operation in Lukeville
News 4 Tucson first reported Friday morning that Mexican federal police Blackhawk helicopters had launched from Arizona into the border town of Sonoyta, across from Lukeville, about 150 miles from Tucson, and that there were dozens of federal agents from ICE, Customs and Border Protection and the DEA on scene.

Source: © Copyright 2016, Arizona Daily Star

 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Part 2:
A lovely hike in the Red Rock Country of Sedona.

Our original plans for this Road Trip trip called for an overnight in Wickenburg and a stop in Jerome. But, we decided to save those visits for another trip and drove straight to Sedona. The route was easy to follow: 85 north through Gila Bend, and on up to I-10 and then north on Rt 303 just to the west of Phoenix. I had concerns about what kind of traffic we would encounter in the Phoenix area. But we hit the 303 at 3:30 and it was smooth sailing up to I-17 and on through Verde Valley where we picked up Rt 179 into Sedona.

We arrived in Sedona at about 5:30. We had lost enough daylight as to miss the dramatic entrance in the Red Rock Canyons of Oak Creek and Sedona. Now to find the hotel.
Unfortunately I did not do my homework very well and I was under the impression our lodging was in Sedona. It was not. It was in Village of Oak Creek which we had just driven through.
So while I drove all over Sedona and John tried to use the maps of Oak Creek Village I had given him to use for navigation we finally realized we needed some help with navigating.
I hate being "lost". It beats up my inner control freak and makes me testy and irritable.
Too bad for John - twernt his fault we were "lost". Argh...

Sedona area - Google earth image

In the hopes of getting some guidance I pulled into a hotel and John ran in and got what turned out to be excellent directions. We then headed back the way we came and soon we were at the location of our hotel. But, we still had trouble finding it because the Sedona Village Lodge was located in a shopping plaza and it was difficult to see the place from the road. But, we did finally realize where it was.

We checked in, unloaded and then went out in search of sustenance. We had a late lunch and were hoping for something simple. We found that at Famous Pizza and Beer which is located in the same plaza. It was not long before we were both munching on a slice. The slices were $3.00 each. Beer and soft drinks were $5.00 each. I don't think I have ever paid 5 bucks for a plastic cup of beer and I am sure John had never paid that for a cup of Root Beer.

Shortly afterward we were back in our rooms. I spent much of the night listening to either the creaking of pipes or heating ducts, which I could not be sure. Then someone came into the room adjacent to mine around midnight and took a very long shower. The bathroom of the adjacent room was directly behind the headboard of my bed. Lucky me. And every time this individual got up to pee they flushed the toilet which made for a not very solid night of sleep. I just love hotels.

Trails in the hotel area

This shows the proximity of the area we were to hike to the hotel in which we stayed. It is walking distance. All the grey lines are who knows how many miles of interconnecting trails. Nice.

Sedona area - Google terrain map

A look at the area with a bit of topographic relief added.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the view John and I saw when we stepped out of the hotel the next morning. It was quite chilly - in the mid 20s.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Who ever lives in the house on the left has one helluva view!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The early morning sun added a lot of color to the Red Rocks.
And why are they "red"?

Geology of Sedona
Sedona is located just at the base of the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment that runs east-west through the middle of Arizona and defines the boundary between the Colorado Plateau to the north, and the Basin and Range to the south. The Mogollon Rim is about 200 miles long, and ranges between 2000 and 3000 feet in height. In the Sedona region, erosion has gradually eaten away at the rim, moving it northward a distance of about four miles and leaving behind some of the most spectacular and picturesque canyons and buttes found anywhere in the world.

The deep red color for which Sedona is famous is due to the presence of hematite (iron oxide, otherwise known as rust) that stains the sandstone of the Schnebly Hill and Hermit Shale layers. The steepness of the terrain is due the fact that the top layers of the strata are composed of basalt and limestone, which are harder than the underlying sandstone. Water running off the edge of the escarpment eats away at the lower layers, creating the shear cliffs. Eventually enough soft material is weathered away that it undercuts the cap layer, which subsequently breaks off in large slabs and falls into the canyons. This exposes new soft material and the process starts again, with the cliff face now twenty-odd feet further north than it was before.

Source: http://www.arizonaruins.com/

Here are a few maps and graphics to help get you located and exercise your brain.

Four Corners area

Mogollon Rim Geologic Strata of of the Mogollon Rim

Geologic Strata of the Mogollon Rim

After snapping a few more pics we headed out in search of some breakfast. We spotted the Blue Moon Cafe just across the street from the hotel and walked over to take a look.
It looked good and the place was empty which suited us fine.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

John and I both had the Blue Moon version of huevos rancheros. This was a far cry from what I was used to being served up. The last time I had a plate full of huevos rancheros was in El Paso and the whole thing was swimming in lard.

Since it was still relatively early we took our time, knowing each minute we spent at the breakfast table would mean a warmer hike for us.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

When we got to the trail head it was pretty quiet. It was still quite chilly and there were just a few cars and one tour bus with an all Asian clientele.
This is Courthouse Butte.

Located off the main trailhead that serves the better known Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte is a Sedona Red Rock destination in itself. According to local legend, nearby Cathedral Rock was supposed to be called Courthouse Butte, and Courthouse Butte was supposed to be called Church Rock, because of its close proximity to Bell Rock and its church bell symmetry. However a mapmaker in the 1800’s mis labeled the formations and the names became part of history. However this fabulous rock formation got its name, it is one Sedona landscape point of interest you won't want to miss.

Source: © 2002-2013 Dream Sedona.

And what exactly is a "butte" ?

A butte is an isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a small, relatively flat top; buttes are smaller than mesas, plateaus, and table land forms. The word butte comes from a French word meaning "small hill"; its use is prevalent in the Western United States, including the southwest where "mesa" is also used for the larger landform. Because of their distinctive shapes, buttes are frequently landmarks in plains and mountainous areas.
In differentiating mesas and buttes, geographers use the rule of thumb that a mesa has a top that is wider than its height, while a butte has a top that is narrower than its height.

Source: WikiPedia

By-the-way, "mesa" is Spanish for "table". There is more info about buttes and mesas here.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the gorgeous Bell Rock. Although the sun was shining brightly I was glad to have my gloves and fleece on.

Bell-Rock_area_trails

This trail map is from the Red Rock Ranger District - Coconino National Forest Arizona guide. You can download the 3meg PDF here.
We hiked the route which is highlighted. It is about 3.5 miles with minimal elevation gain.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The West is replete with places where every time you turn a corner or walk a few feet you want to take another snapshot. The Red Rocks are no exception.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The trail was wide and well beaten from the millions of visitors over the years. Before leaving on our road trip I called to inquire about snow conditions on the trail. I was told by the time we arrived there the snow would most likely be gone but the trails could still be a bit muddy. They were.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Snap, snap, snap...

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Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Many of the plants we saw were familiar, some were not. This is Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri). It is also know as Sotol.

Sotol is a distilled spirit made from the Dasylirion wheeleri, Asparagaceae (commonly known as Desert Spoon or, in Spanish, sotol), a plant that grows in northern Mexico, New Mexico, west Texas, and the Texas Hill Country. It is known as the state drink of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila. There are few commercial examples available. It is produced in a manner similar to the more common artisanal mezcals of central Mexico.
The flowering stem of sotol is one of the best materials for making a friction fire, as it is straight, light in weight, and strong. As it is straight, the stem requiring little to no straightening prior to use, it was commonly used as a lance and spear, the latter with an attached stone or metal point.

Source: WikiPedia

If you read the above you would now know that Sotol is in the Asparagus family. This might seem weird. But in the world of plant taxonomy plants are sorted out based on the characteristics of their floral parts, not their gross morphology.
The Asparagus family contains a diverse set of subfamilies which include Agaves and Hyacinths.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

John had lots of fun snapping away. His "camera" is a phone. I never thought I would live long enough to see that!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Erosion and the "freeze-thaw cycle in action.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This shrub looked familiar but I could not come up with a name. It has been interesting for me to try to "learn" a whole new set of trees, shrubs, forbs, grasses, ferns... Oh my! And John? All of this was new to him. What fun!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

A closer look at this unusual shrub. I am still getting used to the idea of plants having a means other than leaves to produce chlorophyll such as green bark which contains chlorophyll.

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A photo of this shrub, as well as another one were sent to Jessie Byrd who is the Pima County Native Plant Nursery Manager. She identified it as Crucifixion Thorn (Castela emoryi).

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Here we are at the Courthouse loop and the beginning of a fabulous hike.

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More snaps!

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This is looking back the way we had just come. We are now in a slick rock creek bed.

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I'll bet this place gets pretty busy, crowded and noisy on a hot summer day. Ugh...

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We caught glimpses of snow on some of the high points.

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We had no snow on the trail but there were spots of ice in the creek.

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Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The red rock really set off the bluish color of the Parry’s Agave (Agave parryi)and the gnarly Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma).

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The trail took us in and out of the creek several times. Considering the temperature I am glad these were not water crossings.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a shrub we were completely unfamiliar with. The glossy leaves reminded us both of something which might be in the Ericaceae. But we thought that was close to impossible considering the growing conditions and sparse rainfall.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

A closer look.

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Still closer.

What I thought might be seed pods were flower buds. This shrub is actually in a genus both John and I are very familiar with. Once again Jessie Byrd came to the rescue. The beautiful evergreen shrub is Sugar Bush AKA Sugar Sumac. Rhus ovata.
Neither John nor I have ever seen an evergreen Rhus before and did not know such a shrub existed.

The genus Rhus contains such well known eastern plants as *Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina).
*Poison Ivy was formerly (Rhus toxicodendron).

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This nipple topped dome undoubtably has a name. If you know it would you contact me?

I heard from AZ Hiker Patricia about this. It's name is Spaceship Rock.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

 

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I loved the unusual shape of this interesting rock feature.

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It was an easy climb to the top and from there we got some nice views to the west.

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Just barely inside this frame on the left is an Ocotillo. To its right is a Singleleaf Pinyon (Pinus monophylla), Parry's agave and what looks to me like a Banana yucca (Yucca baccata). This species gets its common name from its banana-shaped fruit.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

A comparative look at the Parry's agave and Banana yucca.

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Gorgeous!!!

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Now on the west side of Courthouse Butte we are getting nice views of Cathedral Rock.

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Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

What are we looking at here? Any one know? If so, get in touch.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I am not sure if this old codger is a Utah Juniper or a Singleleaf Pinyon .

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

WOW! What a nice clump of Hedgehog cactus.
I think this one may be Fendler's Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus fendleri).

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

There were beautiful views in every direction.
I can't wait to get back here with my Winky!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

As we got closer to the main parking area we started seeing these directional signs. Note the white spot in the middle.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

"You are here".

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Even though it was approaching 1:00 there was still hoarfrost on the shaded patches of moss.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This wide area of barren rock might be barren because of the millions of trampling feet it has been subjected to over the years!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

On the last leg of the hike we both spotted this odd growth in the top of a Juniper. At first we thought: "Nest?". Then: "Witches Broom?". Then we got close enough to realize it was an upright and dense species of mistletoe. The mistletoe we were used to seeing in the Sonoran desert around Tucson has a lax, drooping appearance so this one tricked us.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

One last look and we were back in the van and headed to Globe where we would spend the night. As we headed out of town we passed the opulent resorts, golf courses, souvenir shops and outlet stores. This brought to mind a quote I really like.

“Man is everywhere a disturbing agent, wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned to discords."
George Perkins Marsh, 1847

 

Our route to Globe would take us through some of the high country of Pine and Payson and then back down to Roosevelt Lake. We saw some snow.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

 

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This was the scenery for many miles - junipers and snow and then on up into the big pines. We topped out at 6000' before we dropped on down to the low lands. It was an interesting and beautiful drive.

 

Next stop: Globe, AZ and then on to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Back to TOP

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Part 3: A grub hunt in Globe and a 1999 bonus

Road Trip Area Map

A refresher as to where Globe is located.

The town site of Globe City was laid out in July 1876, officials were elected, and retail stores began to appear. In 1877, with reduction works established at Miami Wash, mining became mechanized and profitable. By 1887, a stage line began operating between Globe and Silver City, New Mexico, and on May 2, 1878, the first issue of the Arizona Silver Belt, Globe's newspaper, still in operation, was published. In February 1881 Globe became the seat of a new Arizona county -- Gila County.

As silver began glutting the market, Globe turned to copper mining, which became the area's most profitable enterprise and continues to this day. The Globe area ceased silver mining altogether by 1890.

Source: Copyright © 1996-2016 DesertUSA.com

It is interesting to read that last paragraph above about a silver glut. Now there is a copper glut. This article entitled "Arizona struggles with boom-and-bust cycle of U.S. copper mining industry" was written in 1999. Even then the writing was on the wall that the boom and bust economy of resource extraction was taking it's toll.

"Since the times of the Spanish conquistadors it was known that mineral deposits could be found in and around the Pinal Mountains." is how this history of Globe starts out. I can be read here.


Now, back to the present...

John and I rolled into Globe about 5:00 and checked into the Knights Inn where I had stayed in 2014. The rates were $39.95 per room. The owner told us they were usually $59.95 but with the copper mines not having much work they had to drop their rates. I can assure you I did not pay $59.95 in 2014.

After we unloaded we went out looking for dinner. We had passed De Marco’s Italian Restaurant on the way and drove back to get some grub. To our disappointment it was closed. This was on a Tuesday at 5:30. I looked inside and it seemed ready for business but the doors were locked and no one was about. I only recently found out they are closed on Tuesdays. Weird.

Plan B: We headed downtown and parked near the El Ranchito Mexican resteraunt where I had an excellent green chili enchilada for breakfast back in 2005.
We walked up and down all of Broad street and the only thing we found open were two bars. The Drift Inn Saloon had cigarette sucking biker types and some scraggly looking women drinking on the front stoop area. Jammerz looked to be a dance music bar so we passed on that place. All the other resteraunts were closed except El Ranchito. Was there a tradition of closing on Tuesdays. Now I must find out!

Neither of us were particularly interested in eating at El Ranchito so we got back in the van and starting searching for something more to our liking. We drove all over Globe and found nothing. This including driving by the De Marco’s Italian again. This time the outside lights were on and so we hopefully checked it out again. Closed.

Now it was back to El Ranchito Mexican resteraunt as our last resort. But, when we walked into the place we found every booth and table full. After waiting a bit we realized no one there was going anywhere soon. So, we resigned ourselves to continuing our grub hunt.

Now it was back in the van and back to the area of our hotel. No sooner did we pass the Knights Inn than we spotted another Mexican restaurant named Chalo's Casa Reynoso. Now there was no more thought of just "checking the place out". I quickly pulled in, parked, and we seated ourselves in a booth. The waitress said they were busy but she quickly got us drinks and chips and salsa. While we were seated there we noticed there was some sort of coin operated machine next to the counter. It was some type of sexual prowess tester which would tell you what you wanted to know about you know what. We both thought it a strange place to have such a thing rather than in the restroom where such things usually reside.

We eventually ordered and had a leisurely dinner talking over the events of the last two days and the anticipation we had of our visit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

We drove then drove the 30 seconds back to the hotel - yes, while we had searched at length all the nooks and crannies of Globe for a place to eat we ended up some place within walking distance of the hotel.

John and I said good night and then it was into my less than toasty room. I had noticed when we first got there the window heater unit was not working quite as it should. And, it was chilly out! I could tell it was probably going to drop into the 20s. So to take the chill off before we went on our grub hunt I had filled the bathtub full of hot water only.
That helped take the chill off and added some humidly as well.

I drained most of the now tepid water and ran myself a nice hot bath. I then grabbed a beer and my cell phone and relaxed to the max in the steamy water. I then called my Winky to update her on the days events.
When she realized I was nekkid and in the bath tub she got very excited and started saying naughty things - NOT!

We said our good nights and I added a bit more hot water until I could stand it no longer. Then, with my beer can empty and feeling like a well cooked lobster I jumped into bed and had pleasant dreams of giant yuccas and exotic cacti.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Now for a little trip back in time.
In 1999, now nearly 20 years ago, I made my first visit to Globe. I had flown into Phoenix and was going to head town to Tucson to visit my brother Bill for a spell.
At that time I was armed with my second digital camera - a Kodak DC280.

Review of Kodak DC280 digital camera

The Kodak DC280 is the first Kodak camera to be released with a 2 megapixel CCD.
Kodak seems to have made some interesting choices with this camera, it seems to be aimed at the "keen amateur digital photographer", features are enough to keep you occupied but not quite enough for the shutterbug. Kodak also introduce an interesting 30mm - 60mm zoom lens giving you only 2 x zoom but from a relatively wide angle to a pretty-good-for-portraits 60mm. (Although it's not that "fast" at F3.0 - F3.8).

Source: Copyright © 1998 - 2016 Digital Photography Review

Sounds a bit primitive does it not? Even so it was light years ahead of the first digital camera I ever used, the Sony Mavica MVC-FD73.

Sony introduces new 1.3 Megapixel Mavica

This clunker used 3.5 inch floppy disk for storing the whopping big files shot at 1.3 megapixels. It sold for $599. A bit pricey but there were not a whole lot of options back 1999. But why buy the Mavica when you could have the Kodak DC280? Read on...

The new cameras offer features designed to appeal to a wide range of users, from the typical "point-and-shoot" vacationer to the graphic artist needing high-resolution images. Due to the convenience of moving images from the camera to the PC with a floppy disk, the Digital Mavica cameras have made it easy to add images to a home page, send e-mail "mini movies," and share images through online services.

Source: Copyright © 1998 - 2016 Digital Photography Review

Yes, storing files on a floppy was actually considered a plus back then. And shooting digital video? Practically unheard of for the consumer market.

I did not own the Mavica. The elementary school where Betsy was the Library Media Specialist purchased one. It was wildly popular with the staff since every computer in the school had a 3.5" floppy drive.
Of course it sat unused on weekends and Betsy sometimes brought it home with her. It took surprisingly good photos for such a low resolution camera.
Here are a few samples:

October 1999 - Shot with a Sony Mavica MVC-FD73

October 1999 - Shot with a Sony Mavica MVC-FD73

But, as they say "I digress...". Now back to my 1999 visit to Arizona.

Rather than just drive the interstate I decided to take some back roads to get there and found my self in Globe.

My first visit to Globe was very memorable. I was quite taken by the place and loved all the old buildings in the downtown area.
And there were some funky old hotels as well.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

 

This is where I spent my night in Globe. As I recall it cost me about 22 bucks. I don't remember anything negative about the rooms except that the ancient old Coleman wall furnace did not seem to work. I went to the front desk and he gave me a pack of matches and told me all I had to do was light the pilot light and it would work.
Having on more than one occasion done the same to a hot water tank or two I figured there would be no problem. And there wasn't once I figured out how to get the access cover off the furnace and get to the control.

Budget Motel formerly the Willow

Here is a look at what used to be the Willow. This a 2011 Google maps Street View. See the price? 24 bucks!

While doing the research for this report I came across an interesting web site called: "Murder Motels".

We go to the grossest motels we can find on the way to the strangest places we can find. We force ourselves to stay in the worst motel in the city we go to for the entire night. If we live to tell about it, we tell about it here.

Source: MurderMotels.com

Willow Motel Microwave

This photo is from the Murder Motel "Guest Post: Katherine Marty of Super Happy Funtime Burlesque in Globe, AZ".
They stayed in the Budget which was formerly the Willow. Check out the photos they took.


Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is where a found a bite to eat. I ordered the green chili burro. That was in 1999. And again for my 2005 visit and again in 2014. This Yelp review will confirm the popularity of this hole in the wall and also the fact it is now closed. BigFatBummer!

When John and I drove by (January of 2016) it was in the middle of being remodeled with a new facade and a deck. All the work was incomplete and I can only hope they manage to revive themselves.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Now for a quick tour of downtown Globe.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the former Gila County Courthouse. It is now the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts.

The Cobre Valley Center for the Arts is a nonprofit, member-supported center for the arts that was founded in 1984.

The wonderful restoration of the Old Gila County Courthouse was achieved by several hard-working local artists. Many volunteer hours transformed this 100-year-old building into a marvelous venue for exhibiting our local talent while maintaining the building’s historic integrity.

Source: © 2015 Cobre Valley Center for the Arts

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

 

Holy Angels Church and Rectory, southeast corner of Broad Street and Sycamore Street, Globe, AZ

Photo source: WikiPedia

This is the Holy Angels Catholic Church. For some reason I cannot locate any of my exterior shots. Thanks WikiPedia for this one!

If you are interested you can read about the first 100 years of the church's history here.

According to the flickr entry of Tom McLaughlin: "Designed by New Jersey architect James Pigott and dedicated on September 26, 1918. Erected of tufa stone, a volcanic stone quarried from the nearby San Carlos Reservation, by Mexican stonemasons."

For anyone interested in the intimate architectural details of the church you can read the National Register of Historic Inventory—Nomination Form here.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

"Welcome My Children"

This shot and the one below were taken in the vestibule of the Holy Angels Catholic Church.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

 

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the former Arizona Eastern Railroad Depot which was built in 1916. In 1999 it was in use as a Laundromat.

The restoration of the historic railroad buildings began with the freight office in 2005, followed by the passenger lobby, beginning in 2007. Historic Globe Main Street Program volunteers put in countless hours recovering the lobby space. The freight office and lobby have won state preservation and economic restructuring awards. Make sure you come visit the beautiful railway station lobby when you visit Globe.

Source: Melinda Applegate

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the Old Dominion Mercantile, on the southwest corner of Oak and Broad Streets.
This source listed the brewery as opening in 1997 and closing in 2005. As I recall in 1999 there was a sign in the door saying it was to open soon under new management. It was not open on my two other visits. Too bad...

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the former Valley National Bank, southwest corner of Mesquite and Broad Streets. It is now a retail store.

The Gila Valley Bank and Trust Building is a former bank building listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Globe, Arizona. It was built in 1909 to house the bank, later known as Valley National Bank of Arizona, and it was listed on the Register in 1987.

The building was designed by architects * Ottenheimer, Stern & Reichert of Chicago. It features the first known use of glazed terra cotta in Arizona as its exterior sheathing; the terra cotta was produced in Chicago. The presence of terra cotta exemplifies the economic prominence of Globe during the early 20th century as a mining and ranching center. Comparable facades were not in existence in Arizona until the late 1910s.

The building is also the only Neoclassical structure in Globe, locally considered to be "outstanding". Among the architectural features of the building are Corinthian pilasters, an elaborate frieze, and several semicircular windows.

Source: WikiPedia

* Ottenheimer had an office in Houghton which is located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As Globe was to Arizona copper Houghton was to Michigan's "Copper Country". Ottenheimer designed building in both locales both of which would have been far flung remote outposts at the time.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This store had a couple of interesting signs I liked. Can you read this one?

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

At the time I saw this notice about the sunflower seed I was puzzled by it. Now I know why it was posted.
It seems sunflower seed eaters have a habit if spitting out the hulls as the work through the wad of seeds which are tucked into their cheek similar to a wad of chewing tobacco. Messy.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I ate breakfast here in 2005. In 2016 John and I parked near here while we went on our downtown grub hunt.

And there you have it. Globe from 1999 to 2016. Wasn't that fun!? Soon we will be back in the present as John and I say good-bye to Globe and make our way south to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

 

Back to TOP

ADDENDUM: "Water stations along Mexico border vandalized, shot"
I mentionioned in Part 1 John and I had seen one of the water barrels placed in the desert near the border with Mexico by the group Humane Borders . Well, some a**holes decided to vandalize the stations by shooting the barrels full of hole and dumping dead coyotes next to the barrells. Nice.
You can rear more here.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Part 4: Beauty and the Beast - An Arboretum and an Abomination

This was the last day of our road trip. Around 8am we packed up what little we had and walked the several hundred feet to Jerry’s Restaurant for breakfast. Why we did not check this place out for dinner on the previous day I do not know. Most likely it was because of some disparaging remark I made about the rather generic and chain like appearance the place has. And if we had eaten at Jerry's we would not have had the fun of going on our Grub Hunt.

Jerry's used to be a 24 hour place. No longer. In fact they are not even open late night. I would imagine this is a direct result of the all the mining jobs which have been lost over the years.
And even though the boom and bust cycle of resource extraction is alway assured, hope springs eternal. Yet another mine is planned by the Canadian firm Resolution Copper.
The planned mining area is nearly 2500 (3.7 sq. mi.) acres of the Tonto National Forest.

The proposed mining operation was contingent on a land swap.

The swap — which will trade 5,300 acres of private parcels owned by the company to the Forest Service and give 2,400 acres including Oak Flat to Resolution so that it can mine the land without oversight — had been attempted multiple times by Arizona members of Congress on behalf of the company. (Among those involved was Rick Renzi, a former Republican representative who was sent to federal prison in February for three years for corruption related to earlier versions of the land-transfer deal.) It always failed in Congress because of lack of support.
But this time was different.
This time, the giveaway language was slipped onto the defense bill by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona at the 11th hour. The tactic was successful only because, like most last-minute riders, it bypassed public scrutiny.

Source: © 2016 The New York Times Company

But wait, the underhanded political shenanigans get even better.

Why is Congress giving federally protected Arizona land sacred to the Apache to a massive mining conglomerate?

...what bothers many here is that Resolution Copper may be able to mine the land with little regard for the environmental impact.

Under the terms of the land swap legislation, the company is required to work with the U.S. Forest Service to do an environmental impact study under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, but it is also guaranteed to get the land, no matter what the study shows.

Once the land is in private ownership, NEPA obligations no longer apply. The legislation specifies that Resolution Copper will get the land within 60 days of publication of the environmental study, before the full NEPA process is completed, limiting the Forest Service’s ability to modify the company’s mining plans in the public interest.

“NEPA is a look-before-you-leap document. It’s an information-gathering law. So if you’ve already made the decision to give the land, then what’s the point?” said Roger Featherstone, director of the environmental group Arizona Mining Reform. “The whole study becomes meaningless.”

Source: © 2016 Al Jazeera America

Oh my, the more things change, the more they remain the same. All thanks to our elected officials.

And now, onto more pleasant things...

John and I sat in one of the spacious booths at Jerry's and were attended to by a friendly and engaging waitress. What did we have? Can't remember. But I do remember we were satisfied and had no complaints.

The route from Globe to Tucson we decided on taking was US 60 east through Top-Of-The-World and then on to the mining town of Superior where we would pick up SR 177 passing through Ray, Kearny, Hayden and Winkleman, also mining towns. At Winkleman we would pick up SR 77 which would then take us south to Oracle and then on to Oro Valley which is situated in the western foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains and is contiguous to the City of Tucson.

But first we need to get to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park which is just to the west of Superior. Here is an area map of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Here is the official site of the Arboretum

The arboretum was founded by William Boyce Thompson (1869 - 1930), a mine engineer who created his fortune by in the mining industry. He was the founder and first president of Inspiration Consolidated Copper Company at Globe-Miami, Arizona and Magma Copper Company in Superior, Arizona.
In the early 1920s, Thompson, enamored with the landscape around Superior, built a winter home overlooking Queen Creek. Also in the 1920s, as his fortunes grew, he created and financed the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Yonkers, New York (now at Cornell University in Ithaca), and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum on the property of the Picket Post House, west of Superior, Arizona.

Source: WikiPedia

When we arrived at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum we had yet another clear, sunny Arizona day in store for us.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Directly adjacent to the main parking area sits this old structure. The front section houses a meeting area and in the back is the Directors office.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum was incorporated in 1926 and opened to the public in 1929. It is the oldest and largest Arboretum in the Southwest and the oldest non-profit corporation in Arizona. The Arboretum is located on 323 acres of deeded property adjacent to Tonto National Forest and a research natural area that extends south to Picketpost Mountain. The developed gardens and exhibits, and the natural areas of Sonoran Desert you will see on a typical walk around the Main Trail, encompass about 100 acres.

Source: Copyright © Arizona State Parks

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I had never before seen a door with this type of construction. It made me wonder how many species of wood were used to make it.

As we made our way over to the main entrance, we stopped and looked at some of the landscape plants used in the parking area and building front. To our surprise we found no labels identifying the plants. Unfortunately this was to be a preview of what we would see in most of the arboretum.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The foyer area to the entrance had this interesting fountain.
After looking over some of the sale plants, we paid the $10.00 admission fee and started our walk about.

Link to Boyce Thompson Arboretum map

Here is a map of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. You can see it is divided into numerous habitat types. John and I were there for about 3 hours and only saw about half of the area. We found the Chihuahuan Desert section the most impressive. You can click on the above map for a printable PDF.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a real beauty. And I am not the only one who thinks so. It is in widespread use as a landscape plant.

Agave victoriae-reginae (Queen Victoria agave, royal agave) is a small species of succulent flowering perennial plant, noted for its streaks of white on sculptured geometrical leaves, and popular as an ornamental.

A. victoriae-reginae is found the Chihuahuan Desert in the Mexican States of Coahuila, Durango and Nuevo León, with about a half-dozen subspecies named. The situation is complicated by hybrids with a number of other agave species.

Source: WikiPedia

Note the mention of hybrids above. Complicated indeed! And it does not refer to this species alone. I have all but given up on the idea of being able to definitively identify Agaves, and indeed Yuccas as well.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

John and I both wondered what this curious looking cactus was. But, there was no label.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This plant was labelled "Tubac Purple Prickly Pear" (Opuntia santa - rita 'Tubac'). Apparently this is a patented selection.

Opuntia gosseliniana, commonly known as the violet pricklypear, is a species of cactus that is native to Pima County, Arizona in the United States and Baja California, Chihuahua, and Sonora in Mexico.

Different authorities disagree on the division of plants into Opuntia chlorotica, Opuntia violacea, Opuntia gosseliniana, Opuntia macrocentra, and perhaps others. To complicate the issue, there are numerous natural hybrids between species.

Source: WikiPedia

Again, notice the mention of hybrids. This complicates things real fast when trying to make an ID.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

There were several of these metal works of art imbedded in the parking lot of the picnic area. We could not tell if they were functional or decorative or both.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Saguaro skeletons are always cool looking. The supportive structure is really quite amazing and incredibly strong considering mature Saguaros can weight as much as 3-4 thousand pounds.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Big! Tough! Strong!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This sign was one of several in the area of the Gloria Wing On Children's Learning Center.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

WOW! What a fab mosaic.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This Horned Lizard made an interesting bench. This art work would look great at the HillBillyHillton!

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Yet another way cool plant - without a label...

UPDATE: I heard from Paula P who resides in Australia. Here is what she had to say about this photo.

"This unlabeled plant looks like... Beaucania recurvata commonly known as the ponytail palm. It's a common pot plant here as it grows very slowly. Phil has some for sale that he grew himself. They are 20 years old and are only a foot tall."

This makes me wonder how old the plant in the photo must be

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Yucca filifera AKA Palma China or Izote

This Yucca blew us away!! How wonderful it would be to see a specimen in its native habitat.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

It (Yucca filifera) was discovered in 1840 in northeastern Mexico between Saltillo and Parras (23º37'0?N 102º34'30?W) on 19 May 1847 by merchant and explorer Josiah Gregg.
It was later introduced to Europe and described for science by J. Benjamin Chabaud (1833-1915) in 1876. (J. Benjamin Chabaud 1833 - 1915, was a physician and botanist French who worked extensively in the family Arecaceae) .

Yucca filifera as described by Chabaud is a tall, heavily branched yucca. Y. filifera has straight, ensiform leaves growing in rosette-shaped bunches from the end of each stem. Its inflorescence hangs over and is made of many separate white flowers.

Y. filifera can be cultivated in xerophytic conditions. It is used as roof covering and as a source of fibre for handcrafting by the indigenous people, who call it Palma China or Izote.

Source: WikiPedia

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

As is said in West Virginia: "That's one Big Ass Agave!!

maq

Pulque is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey (agave) plant. It is traditional to central Mexico, where it has been produced for millennia. It has the color of milk, somewhat viscous consistency and a sour yeast-like taste. The drink’s history extends far back into the Mesoamerican period, when it was considered sacred, and its use was limited to certain classes of people.

Bottle of unflavored pulque with bamboo cap

After the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, the drink became secular and its consumption rose. The consumption of pulque reached its peak in the late 19th century. In the 20th century, the drink fell into decline, mostly because of competition from beer, which became more prevalent with the arrival of European immigrants. There are some efforts to revive the drink’s popularity through tourism

Source: WikiPedia

Mayahuel (Nahuatl pronunciation: [ma'jawel]) is the female divinity associated with the maguey plant among cultures of central Mexico in the Postclassic era of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology, and in particular of the Aztec cultures.

Mayahuel

As the personification of the maguey plant, Mayahuel was also part of a complex of interrelated maternal and fertility goddesses in Aztec mythology and is also connected with notions of fecundity and nourishment.

Source: WikiPedia

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Not surprisingly this gorgeous plant has been well received in the world of horticulture. Here is a snippet from a growers description of Agave salmiana.

Agave salmiana 'Green Giant' (Giant Agave) - This architectural succulent is recognizable by its thick, graceful, dark gray-green out-curving leaves with projecting spines and massive stature, reaching to 5-6 feet tall by twice as wide. When the plant matures and blooms the tall candelabra inflorescence rises to over 20 feet bearing yellow flowers that attract birds and bees. Produces ample suckers which can lead to a large colony if suckers are not removed. Plant in full sun where it is drought tolerant.

Source: © 2001 San Marcos Growers

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

A very fruitful Opuntia!

The genus is named for the Ancient Greek city of Opus, where, according to Theophrastus, an edible plant grew which could be propagated by rooting its leaves.

Source: WikiPedia

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Like all true cactus species, prickly pears are native only to the Americas and the distribution of the genus Opuntia is quite wide spread.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here in Arizona the fruits and pads are fed on by Coyote, mice, pack rats, javelina and humans. Read this to see how humans might eat them.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a nice specimen of the Red Fish Hook Barrel cactus. Typically they do have the "pups" at the base. This one has five of them.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a dandy! Meet (Yucca faxoniana), the Spanish Dagger.

Yucca faxoniana is native to the Chihuahuan Desert region of northern Mexico, southern New Mexico, and southwestern Texas. Its range is centered around Big Bend National Park in the central Rio Grande valley in the Chihuahuan Desert. It is found mainly in the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila, but also minor locales of Durango and Nuevo León. It does not occur in the upper Rio Grande Basin section in central New Mexico, nor the lower third of the Rio Grande Valley towards the Gulf of Mexico.

The fruit was used by the Apache people as a food source, raw and prepared in various ways. They also used the plant leaves as a fiber in basketry, cloth, mats, ropes, and sandals. The roots were used as a red pattern element in baskets.

Source: WikiPedia

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Since this cactus was not labelled I am going to take the liberty of calling it "Ghost Cactus"

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is a pretty strange looking plant.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

I would love to know the name of the this "monstrosity".

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a fine looking clump of cholla. Devil Cholla (Corynopuntia/Grusonia emoryi) to be specific.

Distribution Map Taxon: Corynopuntia/Grusonia emoryi

As you can (Corynopuntia/Grusonia emoryi) is rather rare in the southwest US.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here is a good example of why I have no faith in my ever sorting out most of the Agaves. This is (Agave parryi var. huachucensis) also know as the Artichoke Agave. There are about 6 named varieties of Agave parryi, including (Agave parryi var parryi). To me they all look so similar I have decided I am just going to refer to them as Blue agaves henceforth.

They are indeed beautiful. Take a look here to see more.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

On our way back to the parking area we passed this rock garden. Now this is a real rock garden.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This particular rock reminded me of someone back home West Virginia.

The Barnes conglomerate was named by Ransome (1903, p. 31) for Barnes Peak in the Globe quadrangle. In the type area it is described as 10 to 15 feet of conglomerate, which lies on the Pioneer shale and is characterized by well-rounded pebbles-predominantly of quartzite but in part of red jasper and white vein quartz-in a matrix of arkosic grit. According to Darton (1925, p. 29) the formation is a persistent and easily recognized unit, which, although thin, is a very conspicuous feature in nearly all exposures of the Apache group in Arizona.

Source: Staatz and Carr

We then said our good-byes to the Arboretum. It had been a good first visit for both John and I. It was a little disappointing to see the place in need of a bit more TLC, especially in the plant labelling department. Overall though a very unique place.
Recommended!

 

Once back in the van we head east to Superior and then headed south on SR 177.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Now we have seen the Arboretum, now we see the Abomination.

Ray open pit copper mine

This is a Google earth image of the Ray open pit copper mine. 14 square miles (10,000 acres) of desolation.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Is it any wonder some people object to this type of "responsible mining"?

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Doesn't that water down there look tasty? I hope it doesn't end up in a nearby stream or down in the water table.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The butte on the left will give you an idea of what the area looked like before the pit was there.

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Click on the image to get a better look at the trucks in the pit. They look like toys.

 

And that my friends was the last shot for me on this road trip. I would not be long now before we would be back at the HillBillyHillton.

Thanks for going along for the ride...

 

 

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