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After the disappointment of not seeing the red spined Ferocacti in Baja, Eunice offered to take the Japanese party to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. There was some hesitation, as this would eat into the time allocated for shopping at cactus & other succulent plant nurseries. ‘Remember, Mr. Kobayashi, where we saw the crested multi-headed Ferocactus last year?’ That sealed it!

This was probably the most focussed part of any cactus trip I have been on. There were Ooohs and Aaaahs as the number of cacti along the road and up the hillsides increased. Most Ferocactus cylindraceus were in flower, but each time that we asked ‘Shall we stop here?’ the reply was always the same: ‘Does the cristate Fero grow here?’ Because the answer was ‘Not yet, but we’re close’, we carried on. This was causing Eunice some stress as she was desperate for us to stop so that she could look up the exact GPS for the cristate, rather than rely on her memory. Almost immediately after a US Border Control check point, I thought that I might have saved the day by spotting a clump of Echinocereus engelmannii and Opuntia basilaris in flower. This proved too much of a temptation and we all piled out of the bus to take their picture (S1767a). Guillermo Rivera would have been envious of the speed with which we returned to the bus. Eunice was disappointed, as her HD with the data was playing up and she was still unable to get to the GPS information.

Fortunately she has a great memory and heaved a huge sigh of relief as she spotted the cristate, some 20 m. from the road. Again, we piled out of the bus but this time were just a little bit more relaxed about taking it’s picture and more of the other plants around us. But once back on the bus, that was it; Nurseries next.

There was a brief stop in Santa Ysobel, just past Julian, where the Julian Pie Company have an outlet where they sell excellent Dutch Apple Pie.

Next stop was Vista, where most people disappeared in the tunnels of C&J’s, not normally open to the public and certainly not during the weekend. I had been there in 2008 and preferred to join Mr Kobayashi on a visit to Steve Hammer’s Spheroid Institute, just a few hundred meters up the road. Steve & Mr. K. share an interest in Haworthia with a special interest in the ‘weird & wonderful’, variegated forms. 

After a couple of hours of peace and quiet, Steve got anxious phone calls from Jim, the J in C&Js, as the Japanese seemed to be ready to leave and were getting restless.

Our arrival at C&Js seemed to have triggered a second buying spree, as more crates of plants emerged from the greenhouses and joined the informal check-out queue. Our bus was already packed to maximum capacity, so I was glad when I learned that Jim would post the plants to Japan with the appropriate documentation.

It seemed that now we had struck a happy balance between plants in habitat and nurseries. More nursery and collection visits are planned for tomorrow.

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