Today marks the halfway point of this trip – time flies when you are enjoying yourself. We’ve already collected thousands of images between us and no doubt there will be more to come, to sort out and arrange in order, ready for my first presentation on 26 May in Woking.
After yesterday’s heat, it was almost nice to wake up to an overcast sky and temperatures in the mid 20s C (= 70s F). There was also a strong breeze and in a bone dry environment this caused dust and sand particles to get into eyes, nose and on camera lenses. Still, the cloud cover softened the contrast to a more acceptable level.
Ian Woolnough had suggested that Pediocactus and Sclerocactus exist in Goblin Valley State Park, so this became today’s target. Some 5 miles before reaching the road that SatNav knew about, we came across a turning that was signposted to the Park. SatNav had another tantrum, insisting that we’d drive 4-5 miles before making a U-turn (why not straight away?) in apparently every anxious tones when we ignored the instruction until we eventually muted the voice – I hate to be told what to do!
Another sign suggested that we’d turn left to the Park, but the road straight ahead looked appealing too and this is where we went for some 20 miles until the road ‘ran out’ (unmaintained road sign, seemingly several years old).
Our first stop here (S2528) provided images of four more Sclerocacti, medium sized and in bud, without providing a clue to their identity, at least not on my knowledge levels. I’m calling the omni-present Opuntia O/ polyacantha for now, as this is a very variable species and will do until I get home to check in more detail and with the help of Joe Shaw’s Opuntia website. Very nice peaceful surroundings.
The area continued to have potential for Pedios and Scleros but S2529 and S2530 had neither, just struggling O. polyacantha and, at S2531, a large clump of Echinocereus triglochidiatus in flower, spotted by Angie from the car.
S2532 is for a potential talk entitled ‘Things that Ian never saw’ as he had never taken the time and US$ 7 admission for a car with up to 8 people to have a look around Goblin Valley State Park. Tourists to the US might take note that State Parks are not included on the National Parks Annual Pass. It was very windy and overcast here but Nature’s sculptures looked great anyway. The goblin-like hoodoos here are unique and fun for all ages. They bear no relation to the Goblin’s Teasmade , a British invention that was highly popular in the 1960s and seventies. combines an alarm clock and electric kettle which automatically boils water and adds it to a teapot at a specified time and it’s invention, credited to Samuel Rowbottom in 1891. Back to reality, as you can tell I read up some detail on Wikipedia while we go along.
With the Goblins done we returned to Green River to check out the latest information received from Ian regarding the rugby sized Sclerocacti that he had found behind the Super 8 Motel here, in 2011. Yesterday’s extensive search here gave us only struggling O. polyacantha. This morning’s email added more detail so we had another extensive search. This is a good example of how difficult it is to find quite sizeable plants from a pretty detailed description:
‘Have a wander around on the hills directly beside the Super 8 car park heading towards the tower and the railway and you should find some nice parvs on the gently rolling slopes. They were facing the railway/Interstate on low rounded slopes perhaps 600m from the hotel – as said perhaps 40 degrees to the left of the big pylon thing.’
Today’s 45 minute search event ultimately provided three grapefruit sized plants in bud, found by Cliff and also photographed by Angie – I was at the other extreme end of the area and did not hear their shouts. It really was not a huge area and we felt that with Ian’s instructions we should have found more plants and more easily, but things are very restricted with Scleros. And their population size can change dramatically in the course of a year. A bit of luck is essential!