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We seem to have established a fairly stable daily routine of alarm set for 7, shower and ready for breakfast at 8 and on the road by 9. We usually snack on oatmeal bars, nuts and raisons etc on the road and aim to find a roof over our heads by sunset.

While in California and Baja Norte, Angie and I usually ‘meet’ on Messenger for a chat during ‘my’ breakfast, which is usually 16:00 in the afternoon for her. But today she left a message to say that she would be out, so that I got on with publishing yesterday’s Diary report and looking up some Reid Moran Field Book data. Eunice was keen to get going, as we had a full program today. She came back to the breakfast restaurant from a nicotine break with the news that it had started to rain, which put a bit of a damper on our plans. Around this time Angie came on line so time for a brief chat after all, to discover that her check on my house showed that the electricity had gone off, although fuses etc seemed to be OK. Great! NOT!!!

As we got on the road, the drizzle had eased up and we could see a blue sky in the direction that we were headed. I have started to describe weather in terms of the ISO setting on my D300 for an exposure of less than 125th of a second at f5.6 (the smallest aperture on my 18-200 mm lens). So a really bright day in the Desert will be an ‘L1.0 day’, light shade or lightly overcast weather is an ISO 200 day while today’s drizzle made it a 400 ISO day with ISO 640 for Dudleya growing on the shadow side of a road cutting.   

The reference to road cuttings was very appropriate as all our Dudleya stops were at such locations. So not many long walks – very handy!

S2241 was for a population of dark green Dudleya, consistent in appearance, with thick, succulent pointed leaves, growing in the shaded side of a road cutting along MEX1 near Camalu. We’re calling it D. pauciflora for now, because it looks a bit like the picture of a plant with that name in Jacobsen – not the most up to date reference, but the best that we can do for now. A single Cylindropuntia prevented this from being a ‘no cactus’ stop.

S2242 was outside the gate to Rancho Ayala, North of San Telmo and south of Colonet, again on MEX1. We were given strange looks by passing drivers – some hooted their horns. Dudleya attenuata grew here as well as D. paucifloraMammillaria dioica and Bergerocactus emoryi prevented this from being a ‘no cactus’ stop. Some D. pauciflora plants with longer, thinner leaves could be natural hybrids between it and D. attenuata? Or just a display of natural variation within the species?

S2243, still along MEX1 was for plants of D. pulverulenta, still growing on a road cutting, this time a very rocky one. These were huge, mature plants with around a dozen spent flower stalks suggesting that if every seed produced had germinated, the whole area would have been covered in Dudleya. I looked around and found Bergerocactus emoryi and Mammillaria dioica to again avoid this becoming a ‘no cactus’ stop. For those of you who saw my Baja California at ELK 2010 in Belgium, strains of ‘Stairway to heaven’ ran through my mind: ‘…and I wonder …’ I saw two types of Mam. Each might well fit within the concept of M. dioica, but they looked very different from each other, especially when I found both forms growing side by side.

As in 2008, we turned west to Erendira on a very good asphalt road. Then we were in a rush to get to Ensenada before night fall. On this occasion we had more time and again let Dudleya by the side of the road dictate where we made our stops. Eunice tells me that S2244 was a repeat of a 2008 stop but I really can not remember. There were magnificent specimen of old D. ingens here, large green plants on top of impressive trunks, still covered by many dried up leaves, giving plants a majestic appearance. And again I looked and found some cacti to avoid this becoming a no cactus’ stop. Bergerocactus emoryi obliged once more.

Once again, a few miles farther on, with an almost dry river bed to our south, another cutting and Dudleya ingens on the rock wall and the ridge above. S2245). I can’t wait until I get home to see what we called these plants in 2008. Echinocereus maritimus, Mammillaria dioica and Bergerocactus emoryi and Ferocactus viridescens var ??? make up the numbers. We turned around at km 15, unlike 2008 when we continued to the Ocean.

Back on MEX1 it started to drizzle and the light went to an ISO 640 day. Still, we could not resist one more stop, S2246, where the leaves seemed longer and thinner than the D. ingens that we had been seeing: I’m calling them D. lanceolata for now. I thought that I had spotted another Bergerocactus for the usual reason, but in the comfort of our hotel room in Ensenada, it turned out to be no more than a collection of dead branches on a dead shrub – making this the only ‘no cactus’ stop of the day.

We found a nice hotel in Ensenada and managed to get our luggage in before the heavens opened – it poured down! Rain coats came out as we ‘swam’ across the street to a restaurant for dinner, then back again. The heavy rain was blamed for the failure of wifi to reach my laptop – although Eunce was able to receive a (poor) sigal.

Tomorrow we head back to Bellflower.

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