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On my previous visits to the US there were numerous plants and places where I thought: ‘Angie would love to see this!’ so the theme of this phase of winter’s travels is to take her to those plants and places. And so we’re on our way to Tucson, Arizona. Last month when Eunice and I drove to Tucson, it was a mammoth drive, and Angie had asked if we could avoid those when ever practical – this should be a relaxing holiday as well. That’s why we left from El Cajon, rather than Bellflower and why we would spend the night in Ajo (translated: Garlic!) and why we made a side trip back into Anza Borrego so that Angie could get an appreciation of the plants and scenery at the southern end of the park.

Our goal was the multi-headed Ferocactus chrysacanthon that Juergen had first shown Eunice in 2009. She had emailed me the coordinates but I had forgotten to write them down, so we were fortunate to get a phone signal after we had entered the park so that Eunice could read out the coordinates to us while I punched them into SatNav.

We made a couple of stops before reaching the target Fero – brilliant sunshine with a cooling breeze whistling through the Fouqueria splendens – again the Ferocactus, E. engelmannii, Cylindropuntia bigelowi, Opuntia basilaris and Mammillaria dioica were in bud with one or two plants of each species in full flower. That’s the way to spend a Sunday morning.

We returned to I-8 to continue our journey east. After a few hours we stopped for fuel at a settlement called Dateland – resisted the temptation to buy a T-shirt with the slogan ‘Where the heck is Dateland?’ but bought some other souvenirs and at Gila Bend took the 85 south. We sailed through all the Border Control check points, obviously looking more like US citizens then illegal imigrants, despite my suntan after 6 months travel.

A impromptu stop north of Ajo confirmed my believe that Angie had seen Ferocactus wislizenii in fruit rather than in flower. She also spotted and photographed her first saguaro in the certain knowledge that she will see more during the next few days.

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