Friday, January 15, 2010

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Thur - Jan. 14th

We left Yuma today and headed east on Hwy. 8 & south at Gila Bend. We drove thru Barry Goldwater Air Force Range where they test bombs.

We went thru the town of Ajo (Ah-ho,
means garlic in Spanish) on our way to Why, Az.

We see these types of memorials along the road frequently in this area.

This is our campground. We are the first camper straight down this road on the right. If you can see the holes in the saguaro cactus, they are made by woodpeckers and other birds who build their nests inside.

This is our neighbor just across the way from us. He seems to have a permanent home here and has marked the boundaries of his little campsite with glass gallon jugs of blue and gold colored water.
It's kind of cute.

Fri - Jan. 15th

Today we headed south to see the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It is 312,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert recognized by the U.N. as an international preserved eco-system. The Sonoran Desert is the most lush and diverse desert in the world due to having two rainy seasons.

The plant on the left half of this picture that appears to be dead is an ocotillo (Oh-co-TEE-oh).
When it gets dry, it drops it's tiny green leaves and goes dormant. When it rains they grow back within 48 hours and maybe even some fiery red blossoms.

This is called a gold cholla (CHO-yuh).

Here I am next to an organ pipe cactus. They are very rare in the U.S. , but they are plentiful in Mexico and here near the border.

This shows the one-way gravel road behind us on the 23 mile scenic loop that we drove. John says he never knew there were so many cactus in this country. They are so thick in places, it's like a forest.

Here is the road ahead of us, paved for a short ways. It's usually only paved in the low gullies where a gully washer would wash out the road.

This is either a cane cholla or a pencil cholla. I'm not sure which, since they both look very much alike.

Here is a javelina (havalina) we spotted as we were driving thru, and many saguaro (suh-HWar-oh) cacti. The saguaro and organ pipe only bloom at night from mid-May to mid-June. The bats suck their nectar and do the pollination. Their fruit is good to eat and used in cooking.

If you look close, you can see two archways in the Ajo Mountains in the background. Archways are rare in the Sonoran Desert. The big one is 36' high, 90' wide and 720' long and there is a smaller one just above it.

I think this is an emory's barrel cactus.

I can hear the Coyotes howling and John snoring as I type this. It must be time for me to turn in.

'Night all (or night owl). I'm not sure which is more appropriate.


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