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We are still on yesterday’s revised plan. We made excellent progress on I-10 to Tucson, possibly because there was little opportunity to get off the road, until we got to one of the few ‘Resting Area – No Facilities’ lay by and fortunately found the barbed wire down. And so, Alain was able to take pictures of his first American cacti.

In fact, our progress was so good that we arrived in Tucson around noon, when I finally persuaded Alain to have a Burger King meal. It was GIGANTIC with a 1 litre bucket of Cola and free refills. When I took a look at the map, I realised we were actually opposite the Motel where Anton
& Chris spent an afternoon eating ice creams and watching TV while I went to visit Miles Anderson at Miles 2 Go. With memories of our 1997 trip rushing back, I persuaded Alain to take a look at Boothill Cemetery, at Tombstone, some 50 miles farther  along.

I could see that Alain was not impressed – they had spread loads of grit along the paths, covering many off the cacti that I found there in ’97 – and there weren’t that many then! Rather than bore him with more non-cactus trivia in Tombstone, we headed back to Tucson for the third and final
cactus stop off the day.

In 1997 I remember driving from Tombstone to Tucson on I-10 and suddenly seeing my first Saguaro. We took the next exit, at Vail and drove along Colossal Cave Road until the crossing with Old Spanish Trail and then drove through the Desert Museum East Section. As we drove through Vail, I suddenly remembered that we stopped at a sign that warned us not to drive into a dip when the road was flooded. I remember how unlikely this advice seemed at the time and took a picture of it. Sure enough, the sign was there and we stopped again so I now have digital images of the same plants that previously I took on slides. But in those days it was 36 pictures (1 roll of film) per day – today I took a total of  198 pictures!

We’re staying in a Lazy * Motel off I-10 in Tucson and have just returned from the Silver Sadle Steak House next door where the 10 oz tenderloin
steak (medium rare) and the chips were done to perfection. They even served my favourite Mexican beer and I suspect that our waitress was born  in Mexico and appreciated our positive comments about her country. With my first chapter of Mexico closed for now, I have to say that the image I have now is far more positive than I had dared to hope before leaving England. Apart from the military check points it really is a very friendly and relaxed country. Just to remind us, there was a border patrol check point set up on I8, some 100 km out of Yuma – we made the officer laugh by nervously starting our conversation in Spanish! Alain & I keep telling each other that we are fluent, but in ‘bullshit’, and in Dutch but certainly not Spanish. And yet, we have managed very well and my teacher at Salisbury College in England would have been proud of the way that I declined the offer of tortillas and asked for toasted bread instead.

Tomorrow we plan to spend the day at the Desert Museum here, where all the plants that we saw today will be present, but this time should have  labels.

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