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Saturday 19 March 2016 – Westminster, CA to ‘in flight’.

Today’s date had been in my Diary for a long time: we fly home around 22:00 hrs tonight.

Usually the day of the flight is just a ‘hanging around waiting’ day, but not short before starting the trip, a solution was provided in early January by Marquita, the programme organiser for the Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society who asked if I could give a presentation today. Expecting an evening presentation, I regretted that I would be in flight. After a flurry of emails across the pond we were set: the presentation would be on Saturday morning at 10:00!

After a few hickups with this new presentation about our 2015 trip to Chile, after three reboots, Kita and Eunice managed to fix the problem: run the 1080i rather than the 4k version of the presentation! Thank you ladies for resolving the cause!

In the meantime I had started a long winded introduction of Friedrich Ritter, the most active of cactus explorers in South America who had described new taxa from most countries in South America, where he had settled in Grazino, near Olmue. He bought a piece of land from Pablo Weisser’s father where he built his house. Pablo was a botanist at the time and started collecting seed of South American and western Argentina as assitant to Hans Lembcke. Many of the seeds they collected were sold to Frau Hilda Winter, Ritter’s sister, in Germany and offered for sale through her catalogue as Ritter / FR numbers. After a falling out between Hans and Hilda, Hans and Pablo sold their seeds to the then newly started nursery and catalogue of the Karlheinz Uhlig nursery.  For the full story, please refer to the  Diary pages of 24th October 2015 onwards.

The time moved on to noon, time for a brief chat with members, then six hour before we needed to do battle with Dollar Rent a Car about the insurance they charged us for our Mexican Insurance for the US$ 48 per day of our 18 Day stay in Baja after which ww could check in for our flight. What shall we do?

Eunice suggested a visit to the Orange County Show and Sales where many people that I enjoyed meeting last year during a mini tour of US C&S Societies in California and Nevada would be present. And so we drove across LA to Orange County where I met Jim Hannah who had been to four of these presentation last year, in the car park. Many more friends were found inside the hall. The balance was light (in number) on the Show, in a small side hall, but heavy on the sales of both plants and pots. Could I squeeze a few more pots in? You bet! And so six more pots were squeezed into my cases with Angie also joining in with spending the last of our dollars. They all went in and came out again without any damage in Amesbury, UK.

The chat at Dollar Rent a Car was unsatisfactory and will be followed up with checking out my rights with my credit card company once we get home. My next trip to Baja will be a flight from London via Mexico City to La Paz where we watched a very efficient looking crew at Hertz seemed to provide a very satisfacory service during the 45 minutes that we observed them at work, while waiting for Eunice to arrive.

And so the time flew by before we boarded the Airbus A-380 and I slept most of the way to England, but not before Angie received a text message from son Peter asking if we had missed our flight. No?! Why? Peter had spotted that we’d fly on 19th March and should arrive at around 15:45, but had not spotted that was due to happen the next day! Better than the other way when my pick up from LAX was expecting me the day after arrival!

Friday 18 March 2016 – El Cahon to Westminster, CA

In a way, the purchase of an extra suitcase at Walmart was the sign that the trip was nearly over and that our minds were becoming focussed on ‘going home’ issues. Today we would do the initial re-pack and visit Steve Hammer for our usual visit for interesting chat, even if we were unable to buy a single plant and without a cactus in sight.

The difference this time was that we’d say ‘Cheerio, see you back in Blighty, old boy!’ to Jonathan, who may have been a Ferocactus Fan since the early 1980s and a Copiapoa Nut since 2013, but whose real passion was for Lithops and so was keen to take more 3D videos while staying with Steven.

Today’s plant of special interest was a member of the Mesembryanthemaceae / Aizoaceae that, if I understood correctly, had not been observed in flower since the days of Linnaeus. Here, in Steve’s shade house was one of the less spectacular plants in the Family (if not THE least spectacular) but it was in bud, ready to open over the next few days. Don’t miss it in 3D, Jonathan to see if it has any redeeming features. I rely on you to tell me its name as although Steve mentioned it a few times, it was on my deaf side, so didn’t even enter one ear and out on the other side – it just never got to the ‘received’ area.

But there were the usual beauties on display that had ‘not for sale/ not affordable’ written all over them; Haworthias of the Elephant’s tooth type that looked as thought they needed ironing or looked a little pale and pots full of Lithops seedlings with all the seeds from just one fruit but incredibly variable, nicely demonstrating the concept of diversity encountered in a single species concept and so frustrating automated species name generators and botanists alike. I lit the touch paper for discussion by suggesting ‘a genus with just two taxa then? Yellow flowers or white flowers?’  It’s been a long standing joke between Jonathan and myself; I’m sure that Steven had heard it before!

We arrived at our Motel 6 in Westminster, CA where we had stayed on our first night in the US and again took Eunice, this time accompanied by her daughter Lachelle, to the Napels Prime Rib Company, where the Blue Cadillac Margaritas and the huge steaks went down a treat.

Back at the Motel, Angie again tried to improve on our previous packing effort. Not bad, but was this carrier bag and its comment coming along as well? Better have another go first thing in the morning!

Wednesday 16 March 2016 – A day in Anza Borrego

Some people say that the native cacti of California are boring, with about half a dozen taxa occurring in nature, but when you drive around the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, less than an hour’s drive from LA and San Diego with a wide range of comfortable hotels and a baffling choice of eateries and where Brits and semi Anglicized Dutchmen can make ourselves understood without too many linguistic skills (except that last night a ‘small pie’ turned out to be a huge pizza, large enough to feed a family of four!).

After doing battle with our waist line at Perry’s Cafe, 0.1 mile from the El Cajon Motel 6, me met up with Juergen Menzel and Eunice Thompson for a drive along I-8 to Ocotillo, where we headed north (south would have taken us back to Mexico), past a farm of wind turbines in full swing. It was not very long before Eunice, driving the lead car, pulled over as she and Angie had spotted a huge clump of Echinocereus engelmannii in full flower. Awesome! as they say in California.

And only a few meters away another impressive group of flowering cacti: Opuntia basilaris, and yellowish flored Cylindropuntia sp. (C. wolffii?). After two weeks plus and thoroughly confused by Ferocactus hunting in Baja, we were now thouroughly confused by the variability seen in Ferocactus cylindraceus. Juergen still prefers the name F. acanthodes but at least we can agree that the plants are identical, just a matter of a taxonomic nicety as to which name to use.  This plant has a huge distribution area. Last year I saw it in Nevada, near Las Vegas and this year F. cylindraceus subspecies tortulispinus was recorded by us in Baja. subsp. tortulispinus was also present here in Anza Borrego, or at least many plants of F. cylindraceus with tortulous spines. ‘But they don’t here’ I hear a choir of experts sing out. ‘We don’t read books so well and were never taught geography’ I hear the choir of Feros respond! Well, they would if they give a damn – it seems that Homo sapiens is the only species that does.

There were also plants that would have passed as Ferocacus rectispinus at any fancydress parade, but you’ve guessed it – they don’t grow here either. Their impressive spines were flatter than the ones observed in the Sierra San Francisco.

Would it not be great if we based names on a plant’s physical characters rather than where it grows in nature? We can always write a paper to extend their known distribution! A lot more research into the different soil types where these plants grow may reveal a possible course for the twisted spines. There were some nice, predominantly white spined F. cylindraceus plants near the Box Canyon stop where over one hyundred years ago the Pony Express and Wells Fargo Stage coaches would speed past.

Mammillaria dioica and its superficial look-alike Mammillaria tetrancistra, the former in flower, the latter with typical huge red fruits containing the typical large seeds.   At the Cactus Loop Juergen had marked the spot where a huge crested Mammillaria dioica caused us to queue and for cameras to click again. Along the Cactus Trail, Eunice found a Mammillaria ‘ten trancistors’ with a dozen or so huge fruits.

Time was pressing and we could not possibly finish the day without a visit to the Julian Apple Pie shop in San Ysabel. The range of fruit pies had been extended to include Cherry and Loganberry, as well as the old favourite of Apple and Peach. Very tempting to get one slice of each.  This stop has become such a tradition since 2008, that Angie and I decided to spend some more dollars on Julian Pie Shop (JPS) souvenirs, Angie on a fleece with logo and I a baseball cap with logo. Time to pose for pictures. As by now we had eaten our pies, I needed to buy another slice. Needs must!


Sunday, 1 March 2015 – Bellflower to LAX

After my last breakfast at Denny’s for a while, Eunice went to church and left me to do battle with my newly acquired books, pots and shopping from the Palm Springs Outlets. The check-in luggage was still some 4 kg below the permitted 23 kg limit, but needed quite some effort to close. My hand luggage now included a small roller case filled with pots, my ‘laptop bag’ filled to bursting with clothes and two large DSLR cameras in their cases. Although the weather was overcast, it was still warm enough not to need the jumper and jacket I would have to wear as they would not fit in my luggage.

At the Air New Zealand check in desk, I got even warmer as the check-in hostess refused to put an ‘approved hand luggage label’ on my roller bag. ‘See what they decide at the departure gate’ she said.

As our departure time approached, I was reassured to see many passengers with more items and larger sized items of hand luggage around me, only to become worried again when they went to the first and business class gate, where such things were permitted. In the end, the staff at the gate offered to add my roll on case to the check in luggage without any extra charge. I could only hope that the pots were strong enough to survive being thrown around.

We left 20 minutes late, but there was a strong tail wind so that we were still on schedule to arrive forty minutes early at Heathrow.

Thursday 19 February 2015 – Anza Borrego again

Why on earth would I go back to a place that I had visited so often? Well, because a review of previous visits revealed that there were still two species – one Mammillaria and one Dudleya that had somehow escaped my camera – Mammillaria tetrancistra and Dudley saxosa to be precise. The second reason of course is that we would pass Santa Ysabella where the Julian Pie Company serves up their excellent Apple Pie and may even sell you a whole one to have a second helping when you get home. Sadly we had completely run out of Apple Pie at Eunice’s kitchen.
Eunice had looked up location data on the on-line Jepson database from which I had made up entries on Google Earth, both for San Diego County (in and around Anza Borrego) and San Bernardino (in and around San Bernardino Co = Mojave State Park).
I selected just three locations from Google Earth based : a) on date, I did not want to check data reported in 1920 if there were locations available from 2009 b) on location: Anza Borrego is large and it would take several days to visit all spots. So I picked the first three along the 78 from Santa Ysabella (where a peach and apple frozen pie was purchased plus a slice of Apple-Dutch for lunch) and on to the first stop (data from 2009).
We pulled up in the first lay by after the location marker on SatNav, nearly a mile on (S3252). Lots of Echinocereus engelmannii here, clearly ready for the new season after having enjoyed some rain, but no obvious signs of buds yet, although based on previous visits, I expect them to be in full flower in a months time. There were also lots of Cylindropuntia, C. ganderi, not the prettiest in the genus. And finally, found by Eunice, a four headed plant that could be M. tetrancistra, but I’ve been caught out by look-alikes before elsewhere. How many central spines? 3-4? Difficult to tell, at least 2-3 dark spines per areole, but there were ‘invisible spines, that suddenly became visible when viewed from another angle. No flowers, but then it was too early for most other cacti to flower. I’ve learned since that this taxon has a different flowering season to the other cacti in the Park, waiting to the monsoon season in August, in Arizona before producing its flowers.
We went back to the actual location coordinates (S3253) and were able to park off the asphalt on the other side of the road. There was an outcrop of granite-like stone that had a number of Ferocactus cylindraceus growing on it, as well as all the cacti previously spotted. I walked up to the largest Ferro and found the first Mam. consistent with those found at the first stop. I wanted to take a shot of a group of young, still globular F. cylindraceus plants, but old enough to be full of yellow buds. I slid down the hillside to get a better angle and slid past three more M. tetrancistra and the first Dudleya saxosa, then a second and a third. I called Eunice over who found another growing almost in a clump of Echinocereus engelmannii, so success on finding both of today’s target plants. So why am I now confidently calling our find Mammillaria tetrancistra? Because just as I was about to cross the road on my way back to the car, Eunice called me back as she had found a plant in fruit with the characteristic large seeds inside.
We took a look at the second location (S3254), but this dated back to 1928. Earlier we had turned on the old, now out of use, CA78 and this had been narrower road – probably the 1928 version was little more than a track. Today’s main road had no space to pull over and was flanked by steep hillsides. Time was ticking on and if there were plants here, they would be in deep shade.
It was a good three hours drive back with the last hour in the dark, which Eunice did. After feeding Bosco (and my first attempt at a report) we went for dinner, again at the Lazy Dog restaurant which serves and excellent ‘Cadillac’ Margarita with a range of burgers and steak. It had become a regular place for dinner, outside, although tonight with the welcome help of an overhead heater.
Eunice had suggested a visit to one of the off-shore islands to look at some endemic Dudleya for Sunday, but the forecast suggests a drop in temperatures to 11C and a 50% chance of rain. We’ll see.
Early start tomorrow for a visit to Jürgen Menzel in the morning and to Steve Hammer in the afternoon.

Tuesday 17 February – rest day

With Eunice spending the whole day at photo school, there was plenty of time to bring the Cactus Trip Diaries up to date in front of the telly, with a first close look at Werner Rauh’s Succulent and Xerophytic plants of Madagascar book.

Madagascar is slowly creeping higher on my wish list of plants to see and photograph in nature.

Nothing else to report.

Sunday 15 February 2015 – Searching for Dudleya

As last Sunday, Eunice was occupied with church during the morning, so I had a nice relaxing time googling for information on pottery matters after acquiring pots at San Gabriel’s CSS meeting and at the San Diego Sales yesterday. If they were not so heavy and potentially fragile, I’d buy some more at the two presentations yet to do, or….. find potters with similar products in the UK or …….. discover how to make them myself.
The only flower pots for sale in the UK and found in the top 20 Google pages were for mass produced pots in garden centres and general stores. So, I need to make some visits to craft markets once I’m back in the UK. Then I remembered that Angie used to go to pottery classes before we met, some 15 years ago. Are there pottery classes in Amesbury?
After a slice of Apple Pie and cinnamon ice cream, we went to the coast where Eunice wanted two show me some more Dudleya, D. stolonifera. It turned out to be a bit of a disaster. As we approached the coast, our average speed reduced to around 15 mph as others also wanted to see the sea and the sun.
The first spot was an old Reid Moran spot that is now a ‘wilderness site’ with so many negative signs: no dogs, no smoking, no trespassing off the track, no enjoying yourselves etc etc that I suggested moving on to an alternative site. The only sign that was missing was ‘no photography’. But I bet that if we had seen any of the plants, say, growing five feet away from the track, it would have been impossible to have taken the pictures we wanted without breaking the law. Reid Moran, you were very lucky to have seen them when you did!
Rather than persevere in this unwelcoming environment (no doubt necessary in this densely populated part of the world) we decided to get back to the car park (US$2 car park charge) and move on the spot #2. This was at a golf course and Eunice had last been here some seven years ago. A lot had changed. There were building works going on at the small car park where we should have parked, had it not been for the ‘no parking’ signs due to the building work in progress (although not during President’s Weekend). They were rebuilding the bridge we would have had to cross and the hillside where the plants were expected to grow was in deep shade, not the best for photography. As we got back on the coast road, the camanchaca was coming in – just like in Chile. Dudleya are definitely ‘fog zone’ plants.
On the way home we stopped off at a REI, a large leisure wear shop with everything from hiking to cycling to mountaineering to water sports gear. I’m looking for a suitable bag to bring the pots and books home – not really a sport, and although some bags would have done the job, at the prices on the ticket, I prefer to take a look at Costco’s another day.
We had a Chinese at Ming in Bellflower before I was fighting my eye lids around 9.

Saturday 14 February 2015 – San Diego Show & Sales

What a lot of festivities! Today is Valentine’s Day and we’re in the middle of President’s Weekend, with yesterday a federal holiday to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and again on Monday for George Washington’s  birthday that both fall in February.

Perhaps the weekend should be renamed Car Day, as it seemed that everybody was on the road – not necessarily moving but certainly on the road.

We had another great day, although tiring – I must be getting old! We left at 6 a.m. to be at San Diego’s Balboa Park around 8, to find a car park space near the sales’ hall and the show display. Balboa Park is an urban recreational park that in addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, contains museums, several theatres, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. There are also many recreational facilities and several gift shops and restaurants within the boundaries of the park. Placed in reserve in 1835, the park’s site is one of the oldest in the United States, dedicated to public recreational use. Balboa Park is managed and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of San Diego.Named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the park hosted the 1915–16 and 1935-36 Panama–California Expositions that both left architectural landmarks. (quoted from Wikipedia). In 2008 I arrived to give my talk around 14:00, to find it impossible to park, eventually finding a spot 30 minutes walk away (uphill, in the heat).With some 500 members, everything is very well organised, with UK-like queues at the entrance to the sales hall; quite unlike Friday afternoon at the annual ELK 3 day C&S festival in Belgium. San Diego Members were allowed in at 9:00, general public at 10:00, so we found a restaurant to have a coffee and an oatmeal cookie.

The plant sales hall again had a very orderly queue going all round a hall, about half the size of the large hall at ELK. Were these people buying plants? Where were the salesmen, here known as vendors? Well, all items for sale have to be labelled by the vendors with their own price labels that state the price (excl. Purchase tax of course) and a barcode. The queue was heading to the 3-4 check-outs where teams of 2-3 people  per till processed the purchases, one recorded the purchases, a second did any wrapping – lots of card board boxes availabl – while the third processed plastic card payments. Two more volunteers were at the front of the queue and ensured that buyers were directed once a till was ready. Very organised, but with some 500 members, there was no shortage of volunteers.

On the whole there was a nice selection of plants of all sizes, with large plants and other succulents making up the majority. There were few rarities, with Juergen Menzel as the specialist with the ‘rare’ plants (of which there are more at ELK) so not surprising that all his plants had gone by the time that the general public were allowed in. Becoming a member is difinitely worth it if you are after rare plants, so you can get in early and enjoy the snacks and drinks from the kitchen next door.

I felt a bit like a celebrity with many people I had never met wanting to talk to me, plus lots of old friends: Woody, Juergen, Steve & Phyllis Frieze,  Mark Fryer, Todd (who had travelled with Eunice, Cliff & I to Kingston Peak in 2009 etc.).  The images and film clips from the new camera / lens are fantastic! I’ll do a similar shoot at ELK this year.

Then on to the show, which was outside (sunny, 26 C) covered with a Gazebo, roof only, to protect plants from the sun. Some plants were on the outside edge and did get some sun so that the high contrast made photography difficult. Fantastic pots and displays and, as I could not buy plants, I (stupidly ?) bought some pots, to pot up table show plants for Portsmouth and Southampton table show and displays, just to show what they do in the US. It really makes for a much more impressive display. Good job that my hold  luggage weighed in at just 12 kg. Then Chuck ( =  Californian Keith Larkin) had the 2 volumes of Madagascar books by Werner Rauch at half price. Now they ARE heavy, but will come as hand luggage if need be. Tomorrow I need to go shopping for another hand luggage flight case on wheels!

By mid day there was still no sign of Pete & Rhonda, our hosts from Las Vegas who were on a 5 hour drive from home to enjoy a Valentine Day’s weekend on the coast. They arrived about 12:30, by which time I was dead tired of having been on my feet since 8, with my back causing pain as vertebrae became compressed. Visit to the doc when I get home, as this happens too frequently and interferes with my exercise regime recommended for my diabetes, cholesterol and general health.

We joined the river of steel i.e. the I-5, back to LA and arrived just after 4 (ET driving, me sleeping) where ET raced straight out again to the dog-park, while I did emails, with the BBC World News on.

It’ll be interesting to see how my UK presentations, What I Saw Last Winter, map out – pt 1 will be Mexico 2014, Ariocarpus in Flower, while pt 2 is an over view of talks in Australia, California and Nevada, mixed with pictures of plants in habitat in between. Doubt if anyone has done anything like that before. Hope it will be of interest to the audiences.
Woody asked me to reserve August 2016 for a 2 week trip to the Atacama Desert, with c 12 fellow travellers. I’ll set out a potential itinerary and do a dry run this year, so UK talks for August 2016 will be cancelled.

pots in display class at the show

pots in display class at the show

Friday 13 February 2015 – Anza Borrego

Ocotillo tree (Fouquieria splendens) in leaf, a sign of recent rains in this otherwise barren landscape

Ocotillo tree (Fouquieria splendens) in leaf, a sign of recent rains in this otherwise barren landscape, just north of the settlement of Ocotillo.

Today we enjoyed our annual outing to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, part of the Colorado Desert.

There were three of us today as Eunice had invited Ken Shaw from the Long Beach and San Gabriel Clubs to come along as well.

After Eunice had destroyed her sunglasses we set off along the I-5 towards San Diego then headed east along the I-8 to Ocotillo, past the café where a few year’s back we had an awful breakfast with freshly defrosted out-of-date orange juice. At least we were not charged for it after we complained!

There have been some major changes here since Angie and I passed by a year ago, with some 100 wind turbines now turning along the skyline. There was brand new asphalt until we had passed through the wind farm, presumably paid for by the construction company.

The usual check point by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service was still there and quickly cleared us after seeing my Dutch passport. 

I guess that we’ve travelled through Anza Borrego at least once a year since 2008, usually in February, when the field flowers are just breaking into flower, followed by the majority of cactus species some two weeks later in March.

Rather than listing each stop, I’ve filed my images under two stops – those in the lower desert are under S3245 with Ferocactus cylindraceus with its yellow flowers in full bloom with buds indicating that there is more to come.

Early flowers on Ferocactus cylindraceus (S3245)

Early flowers on Ferocactus cylindraceus (S3245)

Although we do not intentionally collect cacti, it is impossible to walk between the Feros and not pick up some cladodes of Cylindropuntia bigelovii, the Teddy Bear Cholla. Yes, they look cuddly, but stay clear as they jump on to your shoes and trouser legs. Check your clothes and boots before you get back into the car!

The Teddy Bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) in a desert landscape.

The Teddy Bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) in a desert landscape. (S3245)

The next stop, S3246 was in the hills that overlook the lower desert, where in the past Echinocereus engelmannii and Opuntia basilaris delighted us with their flowers, but this time they were still in early bud. However, the Dudleya pulverulenta subspecies arizonica were in great form, growing on the rocky cuttings right alongside the road.

Dudleya pulverulenta subsp. arizonica growing far away from the usually coastal Dudleya locations.

Dudleya pulverulenta subsp. arizonica growing far away from the usually coastal Dudleya locations.

Since 2008, it has become a tradition to stop off at the Julian Pie Company in Santa Ysabel, right along Hwy-79 for a helping of Dutch Apple Pie with cinnamon ice cream, yum-yum! So good in fact that we decided to bring a whole pie and a pot of ice cream back home as a souvenir that won’t last too long.

I think that Ken was impressed with our laid back approach to cactus exploring. We now also have a wonderful cake shop, right on the Vallenar crossroads, if you ignore the new dual carriage way and take the old road instead.

I should mention that Ken was a champion guitar picker in the 1981 picker’s fare in Julian. I wish I had been a fly on the wall!

And so another Friday 13th passed without incident, apart from heavier than usual rush hour traffic despite the fact that today was a holiday. Tomorrow we go to the San Diego Cactus Show and Sale.

Thursday 12 February 2015 – Huntington BG and San Gabriel CSS

Today was Huntington day and hot.  Eunice had been set a project by one of her classes that told a story, and had decided that ‘Paul visits the Huntington’ was one option, so I was told where to stand, how to look etc. So this is what a Hollywood movie star feels like, with a bossy Director!
Nice to meet up with Karen Zimmerman again, after our talks at the Australian Convention in Brisbane in 2014 and to see her Aloe hybrids. Then, after lunch, ET commandeered me round the cactus garden.
Testing the D600 was not as easy as I thought, as they had installed the latest firmware on it as part of the full service. That meant that all my settings had gone, even the diopter adjustment to the eyepiece had been set to 0, so it seemed a completely strange (new?) camera with everything looking out of focus through the viewfinder. We didn’t have all day to reset my settings, after spending too much time chatting with Karen. So I managed just some six test images and they look fine on my small laptop.
Because I have taken my telephoto zoom lenses around on previous occasions, I was determined to shoot most images on the D750 with the wide-angle lens, to produce ‘something different’.
I was glad that Eunice drove to our next destination as I was tired after walking in the hot sun – still acclimatizing. They had closed off the freeway home without notice for road repairs, but we still arrived in good time for my presentation at the San Gabriel CSS, the largest of the bunch yet, with seating for an audience estimated at 180 set up. The mini show, plant and pot sales and the snacks and refreshment table were equally impressive, comparable to one of the larger zone conventions in the UK.

Again,  lots of nice people in the audience. One guy came over and introduced himself as Peter Sharp from Worcester Park, Surrey. He had been a friend and colleague both at work and at C&S clubs in the UK of Bill Maddams, who had recently passed away quite suddenly. He was wearing a T shirt showing off Echinocereus sharpii (not easy in UK cultivation!). He was the Mr Sharp that had discovered the plant!!!
Gunnar Eisel introduced me and Buck Hemenway was back after another trip to South Africa.
Unable to buy plants to bring back home, I bought my first two (smallish) ornamental pots as used in US shows, one from Rosanna Barella, originally from Mexico (with her husband carrying the plants in and out and counting the money). I took her picture at her stand and said she would now be in my ‘What I Saw Last Winter’ presentations in the UK and joked that by buying her pot, I was now her UK Agent. I don’t think that she was used to such a surprise.
The second pot came from a Japanese / Chinese / Korean lady and I have her picture as well. If any reader can provide her name I’ll update this page with it.
The talk seemed to go down well again, despite a sometimes problemetical PA system.
Ken from the Long Beach Branch (#1 presentation) liked it so much that he had come for a second viewing. Jim Hanna, with plant sales, must have liked it even better as this was his fourth attendance! I suggested that I’d just show the pictures and he could do the talking, so overcoming any language difference.
Ken had heard that we were going to Anza Borrego the next day and was interested in coming along.  Sure, we’ll take Elsie (Eunice’s car, a Land Cruiser, initials LC).
Another fun (but longish) day. No time for today’s Diaries before my eyes shut.