Just before we left this morning, I received an email from Ian, suggesting ‘Have a wander around on the hills directly beside the Super 8 (in Green River) car park, heading towards the tower and the railway and you should find some nice parvs on the gently rolling slopes. As most of you will know, I always do as I’m told and so ended up at said location, S2524, where the three of us did the best we could to spread out. Some 45 minutes later we had spotted the odd Opuntia polyacantha ssp, but no Scleros. Sclerocactus populations tend to be quite local and can seemingly disappear without trace after a borer beetle attack. Fortunately, the seed bank in the soil will allow the population to regenerate once the borer beetle has died or moved on to pastures new. But usually the empty shells of the Scleros can be found but here there was not a trace.
We decided to have a day at Arches National Park, and SatNav sent us the shortest route, via old Highway 50 that runs parrallel to Interstate 70. As we entered Hwy 50 a sign warned us thaqt this was now an unmaintained route – i.e. many pot holes, just like in England. The advantage of this road over I-70 was that here we could pull off at will, which we did, S2525. Again, this time after some 20 minutes in the heat, we gave up having found only O. polyacantha ssp I’ll need a new category of cactus stop: ‘No Cacti Except Opuntia’, and this was one of those.
We had resigned to the remainder of today being a sightseeing day, with all images from Arches scenery filed as S2526 and any plant images for that location filed as S2527. The plant images include Yucca baccata, Opuntia polyacantha ssp., and Echinocereus triglochidiata (again in flower). Then, as we drove away from the Deloicate Arch view pointy car park, I spotted a large barrel cactus in flower, behind a shrub, right by the side of the road. But we had a convoy of cars behind and could not pull over. A mile later we could turn into another car park to turn round and head back to the car park that we had just left. I raced ahead, ignoring any other cacti that might be around. Sure enough, this was Slecrocactus parviflorus, a true giant almost 50 cm (18″) tall and with three flowers fully opened and another two opening with many buds left. I looked back for Cliff and Angie who had only covered half the distance from the car park but seemed to have found their own plants as they were busy taking pictures. Their plants were much smaller but also in flower and we swapped spots. I would take more pictures here of the smaller plants then walk back to the car and set off to where the monster plant was where I would pick them up. Mission accomplished!
With a very satisfied warm feeling (or was it the outside temperature of 95F that made me glow?) we drove back to green River where we had reservations at the Super8 Motel. Or so we thought. It turned out that our paid for booking was at the Super 8 in Green River, Wyoming, 258 miles drive away. The letters WY instead of UT behind the address was the clue that had passed me by. Fortunately the duty manager was able to ring the Wyoming Super8 and arrange a complete refund provided that we’d stay the same time (two nights) in the Utah one – no problem. For a moment I had feared that I had lost US$ 256! Lesson learned: don’t make your on-line bookings while finishing the last bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.
A great end to a great day was provided by a steak and a couple of glasses of the local Porter beer at Ray’s Tavern, where tonight they were out of apple pie and ice cream, but where they promised to have some in for our last meal there, tomorrow.