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Sorry for the temporary gap in the Diaries – I’ll fill them in later.

We left our hosts, Pete & Rhonda Duncombe, early in the morning so we could fit in a busy day of desert sighteeing before the four hour plus drive back to Bellflower.

Today our goal was the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, to the west of Las Vegas. As the name suggests, there were lots of wonderful red rock formations to point our cameras at, with interesting cacti and Agave as well. Being a Saturday, we were not the only visitors, with the designated parking spaces in the pull-overs filled to over flowing. We had a simpler strategy: stop if there is a space, go on if there is not – later changing to ‘stop if we have to – thefre is still a long drive ahead’.

I recorded four stops – some just for the scenery, others for plants. I still have to allocated the ‘formal S numbers’ so for now will call them Stop #1 etc.

S#1 were actually the first two pull-overs on the loop, with images of rocks and hills. S#2 was for the first cactus photographed today – a for the record shot of battered green Opuntia pads growing in chains along the ground – resembling trains. Then lots of Agave utahensis, right along the path – quite different to locations in California in 2009 when we travelled for hours on unpaved roads, looking for stalks that would take us to dead plants – these plants flower and then they die. From memory, where as here the plants formed clumps of up to a dozen rosettes, those in California were often solitary plants and so easier to photograph. Clumps of Echinocereus engelmannii were in bud but no flowers seen yet, just like for Opuntia basilaris yesterday.And then there were fist sized balls of white spined that at first glance looked like Mammillaria but turned out to be Escobaria / Coryphantha vivipara subsp desertii. Again, a shame that we were here before the flowering season.

More of the same at S#3, with a different Opuntia added to the list – small pads, low growing, long fine, light spines; better looking than the green padded plant reported from S#1, but still present here as well.

By S#4 the clock started to play a role – Sat Nav warned that we’d be home after 18:00 hrs – in the dark and dark clouds loomed over the hill. The cactus worth stopping for was Ferocactus cylindraceus, to add to the thousands of plants of this species taken since 2008 ranging from Baja Norte in Mexico and many from Anza Borrego State Park in southern California. Still, it’s good to photograph a species across its huge range, if only as a record of its distribution.

The first raindrops fell as we drove out of the park and the windscreenwipers worked overtime once we were on the Highway south. As we crossed one of the Sierra’s we ran into clouds, i.e. fog as well but nothing to slow us down too much. It was dry by the time we arrived in the LA area and we celebrated an enjoyable few days in Nevada with a Margarita and Bison Burger in BJ’s where they also have a huge selection of Belgium beers! But very noisy with numerous huge screens showing basketball, icehockey and boxing matches simultaniously. Crazy!

Apologies if there are more typos than usual – with the sunshine comes pollen so I’ll be looking for my hayfever pills!


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