Friday, March 31, 2023

Coyote Howls East Campground

 We are staying on a nearby campground for the last night down here in Arizona.

Coyote Howls East Campground, Why, AZ

(Don't mistake it for Coyote Howls West campground which offers full hookup) 

Our spot right by a water faucet and close to the showers

We came here after nearly a week of boon-docking for free on BLM land close by.

Our idea was to stay one night (for $20), get rid of garbage and empty our tanks.

And after a good nights sleep we will be taking off for home tomorrow morning.

Peter inspecting another shower house

While we walked around the perimeter it hit us that this would be a very good alternative to our old stomping grounds in the desert near Holtville, CA. 

The dry-camping area is huge. Lots of space between the rigs.

The fence around the campground is 2 miles long.

The sites are on firm, level ground 

The (East) campground offers a lot pull through dry-camping sites. There are several onsite dumps, shower houses, mini golf,  big library, club house, WiFi, trails nearby and more. Many water faucets are dispersed around the area. 

Adding up all our expenses (hauling water and driving to the dump every week) and comparing it with staying on this campground: this here would be Boondocking Deluxe.

We seriously consider to stay here again in the future. 

Bye-bye and hope we see's again!

Sunset over the mountains in the west

Thursday, March 30, 2023

A morning visit to Ajo, AZ

 This morning we decided to go and visit Ajo , a small former mining town. 

East side of Ajo Market Square

Its market square is built in Spanish Colonial Revival Stile, which I like.

West side of Ajo Market Square

Especial that white Catholic Church is so pretty.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Church cupola

Some old shops were gone and new shops have opened since we visited last in 2013.

Around town there are a lot of murals

and mosaics

This one in particular I liked very much.

We People are all alike, red, brown or white.

some are new 
and others faded from the sun.
Older mural

Cupola detail

Can you find the woodpecker on the palm tree?
Mexican Fan and Queen palm trees line the square

Zoomed in on it
Gila Woodpecker

Monday, March 27, 2023

Visit to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Flowers along the road
 While it was not too hot or too windy we decided today to take tour around Organ Pipe National Monument Park. 

Park entrance
They road in the park itself was rough gravel and we rattled along in our van 
for about two and a half ours.

Peter studying the trail map
There is lots to see and it was good that we came early. When we were done the visitors center was pretty full and we would not have had time to stop and take photos. 

Saguaro that looks like a cellphone pole

Too many cars driving through the park and not enough turnouts along the narrow gravel road. When cars are passing the dust is flying, covering everything with a thin layer.

Saguaro and Organ Pipe cactus
Peter taking a photo

Once in a while we stopped and that was when I accidentally saw this Cactus wren.
Cactus wren on a Cholla cactus
Saguaro and Organ Pipe cacti
A rare growth form, Crested Saguaro (cristatos) cactus

Near the end of the visit my camera run out of battery power. Ugh!

Penstemon in a wash along the trail
Owl's clover
Among Mexican desert poppies (just a step off the trail)
Young Saguaro
Weird Saguaro
Jumping Cholla cactus in front of Saguaro
Barrel cactus with last years flowers

Unfortunately I lost my spare some time ago and have not got around to buy a new one. That will definitely be on my next shopping list!

Peter took this photo of a flowering Hedge Hog Cactus at the visitors center. They must have forced them, because nowhere else where flowers on the cacti we saw. 

Usually the blooms starts in April.

Hedge hog cactus

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Next stop - WHY in Arizona

 Thursday morning we packed up and moved further 

on to a small town called: WHY (Arizona). The roads were lined with a lot of flowers.

Wild Lupines along the highway

 Searching out online I found a page from AZDOT where there was information that this is made on purpose. Between 1980 and 1993 they planted a lot of native seeds. 

More about this in the following 

Link: Sowing-seeds-beautiful-highways

Globe mallow, Penstemon and Brittle Bush
Crossing the flood swollen Gila River, near Buckeye, AZ
Lots of flowers after the rainfalls
Rain brought out the green colours in the desert
Ajo, AZ Church "Immaculate Conception"

Driving through Ajo, AZ we recognized this small church from our last visit in the area in 2012.

Nearby "Why", AZ there is a BLM area where we can stay  up to 14 days. We visited this area 11 years ago and I am glad that I get another chance. 

Now I can go looking for different birds around here.

The rain has made the desert incredibly green and lots of birds were busy in the shrubbery. While walking only a short while right before sunset and in the early morning I found:

Phainopepla, Mockingbirds, Black-throated Sparrows and a Lincoln's Sparrow

Phainopepla, male
Phainopepla, female
Black-throated Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow

Don't read further if you hate snakes!


I got a photo of a beautiful Ornate Tree Lizard 
that was waiving good-bye at me before we left our spot in Quartzsite. 

Ornate Tree Lizard, including tail up to 21 inches long (55 cm))

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Quartzsite - About Saguaro Cactus

 Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)

Walking around the premisses will bring you sooner or later close up to one of
those gigantic cacti. I thought it would be a good idea to learn 
some more about this plant. 
Luckily there is a lot of information available on the internet.
Here are some:
Sonora Desert, Quartzsite, AZ
Kofa Mountains in the background

A cactus can be as much as 150 - 200 years old
Saguaro cactus, and I

some are partly damaged, but still alive.
The damage can happen through desert rats and kangaroo mice. They gnaw on the fleshy
 cactus part. Those wounds subsequently can get infected by fungi.

There are many different forms of growth,
some Saguaro have multiple arms, others have none.

The branches are called "armes". Certain growth spots develop either into flowers or arms.
Nobody knows exactly what decides whether it is is the one or the other.
Flowers develop always on the very top of the cactus or arm.
Around its centre the soft flesh contains a lot of water.
Those fleshy cells inside shrink with drought and enlarge when water is available.
A cactus can visibly swell up, after a good rainfall, similar to an accordion.
Here ,one can see the start of a new pleat. Those vertical pleats guide rainwater
right down to the root system. Pleats contain all those fleshy water conserving cells.
Palo Verde trees are important nursing plants for a young cactus.  They provide
valuable shelter against cold or heat, nutrient rich soil and access to water through
their  deep root system. 
New grow points on a Saguaro Cactus

Cactus spines (thorns) are actually transformed leafs.
They are thin to minimize surface evaporation. They are nearly
as strong as steal needles.

These are growth points that will turn into more arms.

A saguaro cactus can grow up to 40 - 60 feet (12 - 18 m) tall.
But they grow very slow, it takes 20 to 50 years to grow just 3'.3" (1m).
Saguaro roots small and very shallow and grow up to 100 feet ( 30 m diameter) around
the base of the cactus with one tap root that goes down about 2 feet ( 60 - 70 cm)

The wooden ribs in the centre of the cactus and are visible when the flesh is eat off, 
or the plant damaged otherwise.
The ribs support the growing plant and give it strength.

Dixie and Peter examine a dead, fallen over cactus
One or the other cactus dies off. Old age, drought or damage to the root system
may be the reasons.
Saguaro dried up and fallen to the ground
Those cavities that birds like woodpecker, wrens, finches and other nest in 
are called "Saguaro boots".
Woodpeckers carve out those holes with their strong bills. 
Then the cactus creates lignin rich callus tissue in order 
to close the wound off against water loss.
 The Native people used these hard shells as containers for water.
 A Gila Woodpecker flew off of a Saguaro

It was still too early for the Saguaro to have flowers, they will bloom the first two week in April, but I learned that important pollinators
are among others:
 Bees, White-winged Doves, Hummingbirds and Bats.
The fruit are edible.
Source: USDA Forest Service

I hope you enjoyed my short Saguaro cactus excursion.

Some of the info was from: 

desertmuseum. org Saguaro - Cactus Facts

de.wikibrief. org,  Saguaro

others were just googled