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Carlsbad is ideally located about half way between LA and San Diego, right along I-5. A scenic coastal drive will take you the Torrey Pines, head east for Julian and Anza Borrego or enjoy the Carlsbad Marathon next week. It was good to catch this last snippet of information as we learned that due to the marathon most hotel room was booked for our planned 2nd visit next week. No worries, there is plenty of accommodation nearby.

Eunice arrived fashionably late and joined us for the tail end of breakfast at Denny’s. At exactly 10 a.m., just as arranged, we arrived at Steven Hammer’s Sphaeroid Institute and were welcomed by the man himself. Despite the fact that it is almost impossible and most impractical for us to purchase plants to take back to the UK, Steve gave up his morning to guide us through his shade houses and show us some of his favourite curiosities. This was my third or fourth visit in as many years but the experience is always inspiring and Steven’s choice of current favourites changes from year to year. Again, the cameras clicked and I’m pleased to say that this time the images came out much better as I had changed my zoom lens, with limited aperture range for the 60 mm macro-lens.

All too soon it was time to move on, as I was due to give my ‘What I Saw Last Winter’ presentation at the Palomar Cactus & Succulent Society in nearby Escondido. About 60-70 members again made us very welcome just as they had done at the Los Angeles and Orange County C&S Societies. There were lots of plants for sale (Angie thinks that they were all from one nursery) and the whole event made us think that we were at a UK zone convention rather than at the equivalent of a monthly branch meeting. The meeting ran from noon to 3 p.m. and apart from the usual club business and my one hour presentation, one of the members gave a presentation concerning the genus Acacia in the family Fabaceae – very appropriate for a C&S audience as it seems that we have been stung, scratched and torn by these plants or by members of other genera in this family that share their habits with cacti. I learned that many of the Australian Acacia do not have these thorns – not much use tome as Australia has no endemic cacti to tempt me for a visit.

Again we had lots of invites to join members for a visit to their collections but again, our packed itinerary did not provide time to follow up the invitations this time as we had arranged to visit Juergen Menzel in El Cajon for the remainder of the afternoon. Juergen is an excellent grower of cacti and succulents with the emphasis on Mexican cacti and the propagation of the rarer and more unusual taxa. He had set aside the afternoon to allow us to admire his plants and again, cameras were clicking, even though he was off on a camping holiday to Texas the following morning. We finished the day with a meal at his favourite, Thai, restaurant – a nice change from steak.

We fell in bed exhausted – another great day.

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