Saturday & Sunday January 14 & 15, 2012
We are tired. We got up a bit earlier than normal today. Went east of Yuma to a place called Foothills and had breakfast with Lucy’s cousin Kenneth and his wife Ginger. It was a pleasant morning and the fatigue did not hit us until a bit later when we found ourselves wandering aimlessly around Yuma. We drove by another casino which had the RV parking in a makeshift dirt parking area. I guess they did not think they needed to cater to folks driving RV’s. We were offended and drove away. We drove by the old Yuma Territorial Prison, did not stop. Went to a very nice park down at the river, decided we were too tired to walk down to the river. We finally decided that what we needed to do was go back to the casino with the very nice RV parking and chill out for the afternoon and spend another night there. We had a nice mid-afternoon meal at the casino, then just crashed in the van for the rest of the evening. Great night’s sleep and we were ready to hit the road again Sunday morning.
Leisurely Sunday morning driving around Yuma getting some errands done and then off to Casa Grande. The highway was flat and straight and the speed limit was 75. I set the cruise for 70 and relaxed into the drive. About half way to Casa Grande, we came across a place called Dateville? It was a travel center with various services, fuel and convenience market, Quisno’s, etc.. But the interesting thing was that they had all kinds of dates. Plain dates, dates with nuts stuffed inside, chocolate covered dates, dates rolled in coconut or various crushed nuts. The thing that drew our attention was the date ice cream and date milk shakes. We tried both and they were quite good. I sampled some different varieties of dates and discovered my favorite is called a honey date.
Anyway, we had a nice little rest and back on the highway. The landscape is mostly just high desert with sage and palo verde trees until we got a few miles from Casa Grande. Then we began to see the saguaro cactus, one of the things this Sonoran desert is famous for. I have always been fascinated by this cactus. The following is excerpted from a web site.
“The saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) is one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert. These plants are large, tree-like columnar cacti that develop branches (or arms) as they age, although some never grow arms. These arms generally bend upward and can number over 25. Saguaros are covered with protective spines, white flowers in the late spring, and red fruit in summer.
Saguaros are found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert. The most important factors for growth are water and temperature. If the elevation is too high, the cold weather and frost can kill the saguaro. Although the the Sonoran Desert experiences both winter and summer rains, it is thought that the Saguaro obtains most of its moisture during the summer rainy season.
You find this cactus in southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico. At the northern portion of their range they are more plentiful on the warmer south facing slopes. A few stray plants can also be found in southeast California.
The saguaro is not currently listed as threatened or endangered. Arizona has strict regulations about the harvesting, collection or destruction of this species.
With the right growing conditions, it is estimated that saguaros can live to be as much as 150-200 years old.
Saguaro are very slow growing cactus. A 10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall (12-18m). When rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.
The saguaro is the largest cactus in the United States.
Most of the saguaros roots are only 4-6 inches deep and radiate out as far from the plant as it is tall. There is one deep root, or tap root that extends down into the ground more than 2 feet.
After the saguaro dies its woody ribs can be used to build roofs, fences, and parts of furniture. The holes that birds nested in or “saguaro boots” can be found among the dead saguaros. Native Americans used these as water containers long before the canteen was available.”
Isn’t that fascinating? I just love those cactus. Someone once said that the Saguaro is the comic relief of the desert. When I first heard that I was puzzled, but as I saw more and more of these giants I could see the connection. It’s the various poses they take. I drove by one near Phoenix one day that I will swear was flipping me the bird. And with the day I was having I probably deserved it. You can use your imagination and discern all manner of comical poses. Just seeing photos does not compare with the experience of driving through areas where thousands of Saguaros are standing around making fun of you for being so serious about everything. They are saying, “look at me, I am 175 years old and I can take this ridiculous pose”. “You can laugh at me. Why can’t you laugh at yourself?”
Having said all that, I am ashamed to tell you that we did not take one photo of a Saguaro. So tomorrow it will be my goal to take some photos and send them on.