USA Arizona: Expedition of Cacti
I feel it’s time to dive into the USA tales. I give Arizona a Go as it’s my favourite state and my regular work-related visits have spoiled me with opportunity to thoroughly expolre this diverse area. Ghost towns or former mining boomtowns that were abandoned when mines closed. Native American tribes with their unique stories. The Blue, Slot, Antelope, Deer Creek and Grand canyons which demonstrate strength and creativity of mother nature if you will. Though, this time let’s put a spotlight on cactuses.
I always happen to be in this area at the time of year when no rain drops are shared with the land. Returning when spring wakes up grass and cactuses start to bloom is on my Travel Bucket List. The desert stretches from northern Mexico over parts of Arizona and is the only area where Saguaro Cactus, the spiny multi-armed symbol of the West grows. It’s featured on the brown-red Arizona vehicle license plates. I also noticed loads of calendars, mugs and other Saguaro souvenirs in gift shops.
Arizonians take their cactuses seriously and Saguaro is taken most seriously of all. It’s illegal to shoot or dig one up without a permit. Due to the shapes and size some people use them for target practice or sell for big monies. Even though Saguaro grows just 1.5 cm a year some of them have patiently reached 15 m (!!!) being around for 200 years. Most don’t put out an arm until reaching age of 70 years. A grown-up can weigh up to two tons as it mainly consists of water. Mess with one and you may encounter guards known as the cactus cops who patrol the desert daily and watch over 350 federally protected plants. They can press some serious charges or even put people in jail if the wrong cactus is disturbed.
Jumping Chollas can reach up to 4 m height. This one is a youngster looking like a small bush. It can be aggressive, detach it’s stems and jump off the plant when touched. Sometimes person discovers that some bits of cactus are hanging in clothes when sitting or leaning on them. It’s a painful problem if the needles spring into flesh. They have small sharp edges which are not noticeable with naked eye and which don’t make the pulling out easier. Glad I am not talking from experience.
The dry season might bring some extreme weather. Severe rain, wind and tornado warnings surprised me in Florida. In Arizona there were no notifications of the upcoming sand storm. They say the dust devil, as locals call it, is almost unforecastable due to the variety of soil so have to be ready anytime. It was a peaceful drive back to Tempe when dust suddenly went up in the air. Unfortunately, I didn’t capture the moment where I couldn’t even see the car in the front. I guess I got too excited to experience this for the first time.
It’s not only dust and deserts in Arizona. Even though it’s one of the driest states in the U.S. there are loads of beautiful green areas thanks to one of the most advanced water management systems in the world. It gets majority of water from Colorado River.