Yes, the overnight accommodation so far reads the same as for the February trip, but this time we arrived at around 4 p.m. and made our last stop (S870) the extensive boulder fields behind the Desert Inn / La Pinta Motel. Nobody says that sunset shots have to be taken in the middle of the wilderness.
But that was the last of today’s six stops, so let’s start at the beginning: S865, along MEX1, south of San Quintín, sandy hills with the Pacific Ocean just visible in the distance. The different types of desert flowers were some 10 times more abundant than in February, when it was already amazing. We saw Dudleya sp. (2, mainly green plants but also one possible D. brittonii), an Asclepiad that leaked latex all over my hand, Stenocereus gummosus, including a plant with cristate heads, Echinocereus maritimus and Mammillaria dioica. The name ‘dioica’ refers to the botanical term indicating that this cactus has male and female flowers, rather than the usual set up (for the Cactaceae) of both parts in the same flower. Last time the flowers were often not wide open, but this time just about every plant had a turret of flowers round the top of the stem and it was easy to photograph the phenomenon.
E. maritimus in flower confirmed our tentative ID in February: yellow flowers and its general appearance = E maritimus.
We stopped in El Rosario for some shopping: fresh fruit, Negra Modela and other essentials, but the next cactus stop (S866) was a bit further south, prompted by the first Boojums (Fouqueria columnaris) appearing on the scene. My GPS suggested that we were near ‘Cactus Maximus’ of the February trip. At least the north reading was spot on, but the West reading was still a degree or so out. The road turned east at Rosario, so that got us closer. The other give away that we still had to go further east was that there were no Cardon (Pachycereus pringlei) in the field yet.
S868 was ‘Cactus Maximus’, with more of the characters joining the list of plants photographed. Myrtillocactus cochal was in flower, but the flowers are minute for such a large plant. The P. pringlei was now in bud, and again, the flowers look like being much smaller than the size of the plant (to 4 meters tall is not unusual) would suggest. I found another (different) Euphorbia bush, yet to be identified. And the Ferocacti started to appear in numbers, hiding between blue white and yellow mats of flowers. I didn’t take many pictures this time, but did get the camcorder and hope to have a decent film of this amazing stop.
A little later, we pulled over to Rancho El Descanso, one of the one house settlements that function as cafeterias when it suits them to be open. It also boasted 4 new(ish) toilets. But you had to pay 5 pesos and, as the lady was suspicious that all 4 of us would try to use the facilities once she had unlocked the door for Eunice, she sat on guard outside.
We spent the night at the Desert Inn / La Pinta Motel (again) where this time the restaurant was chock a block with RV holiday makers from the US & Canada, who were staying in cheap accommodation across the road (didn’t know there was any). Cliff was accosted by 60 year + Connie from Texas who had been drinking Bloody Mary’s all night. Due to the crowded restaurant, we ordered Margaritas while collecting the set that was ready. Perhaps as a result, our bar + food bill that night was an amazing US$240!!! I think they saw us coming. Still, it taught us a lesson to be more careful in future.
Cliff can’t remember how he got to our room, but I was fine and woke up at 6, ready for breakfast at 7.