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My dad was fascinated by this cactus, so we stopped to take pictures. We called it a Teddy Bear Cactus, but on looking it up I see that it is a type of Cholla.
It was named for its furry "cuddly" appearance but up close and personal, it is a densely spined plant which you will be sorry if you try to hug it. The dense covering of spines shields the stem from exposure to intense sunlight.
The plants grow 3 to 5 feet tall, and their many short branches are readily detached by animals or even wind and then take root in the soil. In fact, this is the main method of propagation of this species of cholla - the plants do produce flowers and fruits but the seeds are usually sterile. Sometimes whole hillsides can be covered with a forest of these plants, all derived from fallen, rooted branches. So don't feel bad if you break a piece off - you will be helping the plant to spread itself around.
Teddy bear cholla is widespread and abundant in the lower, warmer parts of the Mojave Desert and in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
This is about a spot along I-40 that is actually in New Mexico - but can impact your day in Arizona :)
There is acerage along I-40 near Grants and Milan New Mexico that closes down during high winds. Because of the drought of the last decade - high winds create blackout conditions from sand and dirt. In 2004, several severe pile ups lead to traffic deaths in this region. So now, the State Police of New Mexico actually close down this stretch of the freeway to all motorists. This blockade lasts for only a few hours during the windstorm - which are pretty frequent out here in the southwest during spring and fall.
How does this relate to driving through Arizona? Well, if you watch weather and road conditions while traveling - and see the risk of a delay later on down the road ... just take the extra time to wander the roadside attractions and wander to where all those roadside billboards point.
Afterall, it makes more sense than sitting in a traffic jam further down the road ......
Updated Apr 4, 2011
You hear those horror stories of rattlesnakes and well, unfortunately, it is true that people do get bitten, specially those who swerve away from the paved paths. So, be very careful not to go into the bushes --- I once saw a lady Japanese tourist (very nice smiling lady with whom I exchanged Konichiwa earlier) go into the cacti (with stone hidings underneath which are perfect for snakes) for a kodak moment (she even crouched down and her butt could have been bitten! not to mention hitting the cacti spikes!).
And just in case it happens, here are the current guidelines:
1. Reassure the victim, specially 70% of all snakebites are by non-venomous snakes and 50% of bites by venomous species are dry bites . Loosen or remove restrictive clothing/jewelry.
2. Immobilize the affected limb (by bandage or clothes to hold splint, but tight arterial compression is not recommended) . Don't make cuts over the bite, don't suck it, don't use torniuets, don't put the bite in ice water, don't elevate the bitten part (venom goes quicker to your heart) and don't RUN (speeds up your circulation). Keep Calm.
3. Promptly transfer of victim to hospital
So once again:
It is now NOT recommended to make local incisions or "tattooing" at the site of the bite, suctioning venom out of the wound, using tight bands (tourniquets) around the limb, and/or local application of ice packs. These are discouraged as they do more harm than good by increasing absorption of the venom and delaying transport to a medical facility.
Updated Jun 1, 2009
Yes, this is a warning for hikers in the Desert Southwest - Killer Bees! Don't wear bright colored garments and NO SCENTS - some even say you should not have scented deodorants! If you see those killer bees, the best solution is to LEAVE THE AREA! Do not go and swat the bees or smash them -- they will just go on an attack mode because the smached bees will put out a scent.
The bees tend to attack the head - so cover your head and RUN! There are actually some hats with built-in protective netting. If not, just pull your shirt over your head...(kinda like Girls Gone Wild, I guess).
Even jumping in the water might not help because the bees might wait for you to come up. But it is advised that if you do get stings, scrape off the stingers with credit cards - don't pinch them off because the squeezing just puts more toxin into you. And better still, more than 15 stings needs a visit to the doctor and even just one sting if you have difficulty of breathing or other local pain and swelling. Better be safe than sorry...
Written Jun 1, 2009
You have heard this several times --- protect yourself from the sun! Sunblock, caps, and sunglasses to protect your retina!
Specially people who have had lasik surgery might find the brightness a bit straining on the eyes (sensitivity of retina to light). So, very good sunglasses are essential (besides polaroid shades sometimes bring out the color of the rocks better)
Since we travel with our kids and they are sensitive to the rays of the beautiful sun, we are not ashamed to bring our tent-sized golf umbrellas, hehehe...shade is hard to find when you are walking around the great views of the canyon, and so you have to bring your own shade (umbrella). And bring a sturdy one because it the wind is strong, you don't want a weak umbrella...
Updated Mar 15, 2009
There is a sign at the entrance to the Coronado National Memorial warning about illegal immigrant and drug smuggler traffic through the park. Remember, you are right on the border. Pay attention to your surroundings, avoid traveling alone, and if you see anyone that doesn't belong avoid them and report them. It is easy to tell immigrants from drug smugglers. Illegal immigrants frequently include women and children. Drug Smugglers are mostly men and are better armed. This applies to almost ever location along the border.
Written Oct 30, 2007
Phone: (520) 366-5515
To help preserve the natural beauty of Arizona please stay in designated areas and only walk on designated trails. Remember that it is prohibited to remove any fossils, petrified wood, rocks, or other natural resources from the park. The trails are also safer because they decrease your chances of running across harmful animals or other situations. If you walk through overgrown areas you may meet a rattler.
Updated Aug 15, 2007
Mining was, and still is, a major activity in Arizona. There are open mine shafts all over the state. Do not approach the mine shafts. If there is a barrier obey them. The area close to the edge of the shaft is unsteady and can fall away.
Written Aug 15, 2007
Arizona has a lot of desert trails you can hike on. Sometimes there is very little shade along these trails. Some of the trails have little benches or rocks you can sit on, some don't. I would not sit on this one because when it is overgrown like in this picture it is a good way to get bit on the butt by a rattler.
Written Aug 15, 2007
You should pay attention to these signs. There are sometimes places where the water flows across the road during monsoon season. The water can be deeper than it looks and can flow very quickly. The water can also be a indicator of a coming flash flood. Please obey the signs. Apparently someone was angry at this sign. See the bulletholes?
Written Aug 15, 2007
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