Cacti have spines. I know that. I mean, it’s really pretty obvious.
What I didn’t know until too late is that some cacti have really tiny spines: so tiny that you don’t notice them. It would have helped to know this before my husband pointed out a prickly pear that looked strangely smooth – so strangely smooth that I just had to reach out and run my hand along the paddle.
Don’t do that.
Now I know that there really aren’t any cacti without spines. Some have good upfront stout ones, that warn you ahead of time to not touch. Others – the sneaky little devils – have fine little spines called glochids, and they are one pain in the butt (or wherever) to get out. I’ve since learned from my desert-savvy friends that we would have been wise to carry duct tape on our desert hikes to get the zillions of little spines out. (Of course, the wisest move would be not to touch things you don’t know about. I know that…now.)
So just how do the desert birds manage to avoid being impaled? They seem oblivious to their spiky surroundings.
In addition to learning lessons the hard way, we did find some unexpected gems on our recent southwest jaunt, which I’m happy to share:
Favorite campsite in Death Valley: Mesquite Springs, at the northern end of the park. At 1,800 feet in elevation it’s a bit cooler than the campgrounds at Furnace Creek, but it’s nice and small, with lots of great country to explore.
Good Birding: Salton Sea and the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge. We had no plans to go here, but I’m so glad we did. Thousands of shorebirds, along with other great desert birds.
Nice place to get away from everyone and relax in the desert: Kofa Wildlife Refuge. Good skies here, too!
Favorite combo of cute little town, Sonoran Desert and a dandy National Monument: Ajo, Arizona and Organ Pipe National Monument. Camp at Alamo Canyon campground in the monument: you’ll need to stop at the Visitor Center to reserve a spot, but it’s worth it.
Next on the agenda: find the migrating Snow Geese!