A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Jumping Cholla


This is just one variety of thirty-five species of cholla cactus.  The name for this particular cholla comes from the fact that you could actually swear that part of the plant jumped out onto your shoe, pants leg or shirt for you cannot recall brushing up against it.  But just the merest touch of the plant and a section will break off and attach itself.  I have had it happen numerous times.

Cholla cactus are particularly nasty.  
The spines have microscopic barbs on them which makes it quite painful to remove. 

Not my hand.  Internet photo.

Close up of the spine.

Microscopic view

It has pink and white flowers with lavender streaks running through them.  They flower in mid-summer and I learned that they open up at 3 p.m. solar time.  You can set your watch to that.  I did not know that.  I couldn’t find the flower online.  This is the flower to the Teddy Bear cholla.

The plant grows to four feet tall.  The plant propagates with sections that break off falling to the ground and a tendril will come out and take root.  I have seen dense impenetrable forests of cholla with a carpet of cholla parts littering the ground.  One place we stayed Beans got some stuck to her paw.  Try to imagine holding down a cat and trying to remove a barbed cholla spine.

Amazingly cactus wren are able to nest within a cholla cactus.

Now the good part about cholla.
When they die, they leave behind a really cool skeleton.

We have some decorating our home.
Online you can find them for sale like on Etsy, Ebay and more.

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The barrel cactus can grow three to six feet tall. The one I had a photo of was just under three feet.

Barbara, in case you missed them a couple people left a comment on the new eBook post about how to download the books with an app that might help you with the problem you were having.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Fishhook Barrel Cactus

First off I want to thank you Cathy for the suggestion on showcasing some of the plant life in the desert southwest.  I went out the next day for a little photo safari and you made me look at my surroundings in a different way.  I had fun searching for plants meandering about slowly and really looking.

These cacti can live to be a hundred years old.  The root system is very long but quite shallow.  They have a tendency to lean southward, the direction of the sunlight.  One source stated they are a threatened species but on the low end of the scale as “vulnerable”.  Common belief is if lost in the desert and very thirsty you can cut into the barrel cactus and get water.  Not so as you may think.  It is a very fleshy inside and although you could quench your thirst it is very bad tasting and contains oxalic acid which will cause diarrhea and that is moisture you cannot afford to lose from your body. 


Here you can see where the name for this species of cactus comes from.  The spines are very hard and can penetrate leather gloves or boots.  They are sufficient enough to keep javelina and other animals from eating the plant.

They produce a ring of red or orangish red flowers in a ring on top in the summer and after pollination a green fruit.  The fruit turns yellow after the flower dies and can remain in place for as long as a year.   
The fruit is not tasty.

Barrel cactus are easy to grow and make for a great addition to your desert garden.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Latest Ebook is Available


Our latest eBook is now available.  
In the past I have paid a service to have the word document formatted to be put on kindles and ereaders.  This also included them designing a book cover.  Each year it seemed to be more of an agravating endeavor, especially the making of the cover.  Last year especially so.  The person the project was handed off to was very incompetent unable to follow simple directions given for the layout I wanted.  Even when I supplied examples from past covers.  Consequently I wasn’t looking forward to doing this year’s eBook.

Well last year a service called Draft2Digital teamed up with Smashwords, the platform I use to publish the eBooks.  D2D would provide formatting of your work for free.  Unbelievable.  I also found an app, Canva, where I could create my own eBook cover.  I approached both of these very apprehensively since I am not very good with computer stuff.  I stumbled through the making of the book cover which wasn’t all that difficult.  It was simply a learning process.  As for the formatting there I was worried about combining the two elements of the eBook.  It went well, all automatic without having to interact with a human.  Whew!

To get your free copy click HERE

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I apologize Barbara, I meant to address your question and completely forgot.  I do my own oil changes.  I don’t trust `kids at quick lube places.  I just changed the air filter a couple days ago.  I should do the fuel filter too.  It is time.  The engine has only one belt and I had it done when it gave way leading to a tow.  I’ll try it myself next time.
That is a good suggestion Cathy.  I’ll work on showing plant life more.  Having been around desert plants all my life I just take them for granted not seeing how they are new, different and strange to others who don’t live among them.
Tucson may have a gem show.  I know Quartzsite does which is going on now.  I know nothing about gems and couldn’t educate.  More importantly, consider the crowds.  I could never cope.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Coming Up Empty


Ten miles east of Tucson, Arizona

It seems we will be ‘stuck’ here for some time until things warm up further on down the road.
Still, it isn’t a bad place to be stuck at.  Neighbors are seldom seen and quiet.


I have always tried to have a post each day but it is pretty difficult to do here.
There simply isn’t anything to really blog about unless you want more photos of trash lying about.
So there may be some days where no post shows up in your morning feed.
If you have any requests about anything you might want to see leave them in the comments.

Meanwhile I started reading this book I picked up at the Little Free Library back in Ajo.
It has proven to be a real page turner.  I’m halfway though it already.

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I had you in mind TWG when I set up yesterday’s post.  
I was thinking you called Roadrunners scrawny chickens but I see now it was skinny chickens.

Friday, January 27, 2023

A Scrawny Chicken


This guy comes by each day.  I had to take the photo through the screen door.

Otherwise Beans will charge out thinking she can catch him.
“Beep beep”

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“I saw on the news Tuscan (?) supposed to be snow and cold.”

Don’t scare me like that!

I’ve pretty much resigned myself to having to stay here longer than I wanted.  Everywhere east of here is colder.  If we had gone to Quartzite like we usually do every year we’d still be there for another month before moving out.  I’m trying to realign my thinking.

Why the BLM doesn’t provide dumpsters.  Probably a cost factor.  They expect people to be responsible.  Ha!  Also the locals would come by filling the dumpster with their trash, furniture, appliances and mattresses.  I found a mattress today.  No picture.  You don’t want to see that.  As for community service people cleaning up and leaving those bags along the roadway, I considered that.  I saw a trash truck drive by this morning so on my walk I went by the roadside dump-off site just to see.  Yep, it was all still there.  “Not my job.”

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Trash Everywhere

Ten miles west of Tucson, Arizona

This is not the kind of post I enjoy making on the blog.  This place is really bad for trash lying about.  I suspect some of it is by locals using this BLM land as a trash dump.

Here it looked like possibly someone had cleaned up some of it but why did they leave the bags alongside the roadway?


Here some campers just threw their trash into a pit nearby.  
How can you feel okay doing this and driving away?

The box was full of something.  I found that out by kicking it.  I didn’t look inside.
And the shoes were not my style.

Nearby were these ladies shoes.
They didn’t fit me so I left them there.

Worst of all is broken glass littering the entire place.
Probably leftovers from being a shooting gallery for the locals.
This will last for eons.

Someday we will come by here again and discover the camp area shut down, fenced off with KEEP OUT signs.  Sad as there is no place else to stay in the Tucson area.  All Walmarts have NO overnight parking.
A city ordinance.  Not Walmart’s doing.
I don’t know what we will do when the CLOSED KEEP OUT signs appear.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

How Do They Manage?


Our first night here ten miles west of Tucson Arizona got down to the freezing point.  It wasn’t too bad inside our cozy little home with four insulated walls.  Plus having my two sleeping bags I slept well.

But there are these folks who have only a thin nylon cover for protection from the cold.

My neighbor, he is from Colorado.  The cold is normal there.  It must not bother him.

It has to be cold inside.

This lady is from Washington and sleeps in her car with two little dogs.
I saw her place two guitars up on the roof and cover them with what looked like a sleeping bag.
It must be cramped inside at night.

These little trailers are cute.  Not much space inside to heat up.  Another solo woman camper.

Twenty-four hours later and I don’t regret moving now.  It is supposed to gradually get warmer and there isn’t much difference in temperatures between the two places.  I just wanted to keep on moving that’s all.  It’ll just take a bit longer now waiting for the rest of the route to warm up.

I’m warm.

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As Barbara said “...going means that something is unexpected out there.”  Traveling and the exposure to new experiences help to motivate and give me inspiration for the blog and my journaling.  Sitting stagnant in the winter months do not.


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

BIG Mistake


Outside of Tucson, Arizona

We had yet to fill up with fuel before leaving Why.
I checked the Gas Buddy app.
The Indian casino three miles east was the cheapest.  Usually they are.

Well it looks like it is ten cents less than noted on the app.

At the pump after inserting my card the machine told me See Cashier.  Geez, That’s the last thing I want to do first off in the day.  But I made the trek inside.  The lady says she needs to know how much money.  “How do I know how much money?  I’m filling it up.”  “I still need to know how much money”  I don’t need this aggravation.   I’ll just go back the three miles to the Texaco in WHY and pay the extra.

I pull up to the pump and it is priced at $4.59 a gallon.  A whole $1.20 less than the casino.  The person input the wrong price into the app.  My lack of patience in dealing with that woman at the casino saved me nearly twenty dollars.  I would have spent $114 to fill up there.

Then I found ten cents on the ground too.  
It was going to be a good day.  (Don’t count on it)

One hundred and twelve miles later we were back at that camp area outside of Tucson where we were before coming to WHY.  Time for lunch.  
We’ll just stay the night and then move on.  I checked the weather ahead.  EVERYWHERE east of here it was to be in the low twenties each night!!  I failed to check this before leaving WHY!
We should have stayed put.  So now I am considering staying here outside of Tucson but I want to move.
I don’t know what to do.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.


I fixed lunch and put together the above part of this post.  The entire time I was listening to a generator across the way.  We’ll move.  I thought about getting on the other side of the small mountain from where we had camped before.  This way we can catch the morning sun to warm us up.

This isn’t the ideal spot like we had back at Gunsight Wash in WHY.  Lots of campers around.  I am leaning towards staying here until things warm up on down the road.  Not much potential blog content here unless you want to see trash.  It looks worse than when we left here two months ago.  I try to look at the positive.  We are at least over a hundred miles on our way.  We’ll take that. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

A Busy Day


Monday morning I was notified that my package had arrived at the post office.  A day early.  I wasn’t ready.  Lets go with it Beans and get a head start on our next journey.

One last trip into Ajo. 

First stop, the post office.

Next up, the Shell station to fill up the water tank.  $3.00

Then pull over to the Shell carwash.  $1.50 for four and a half minutes.  A good deal.

Gracie is nice and clean now.

Then walk over to fill two jugs with purified drinking water.
Three things checked off my list with one stop.
Could have been four things but we still had a half a tank or propane.
We’ll fill up the fuel tank tomorrow at the Indian Casino three miles out.  Cheaper.

Next the Radioshack store to pick up a UPS delivered package.

I like the box Dad.

Then next door to Family Dollar for a couple items.

And then on down to Dollar General.
They had eggs.  I passed.

Next, pick up the air and oil filter I had to order.

Next, one last stop at Olsen’s Market.  I’m sorry I said your store was pathetic.
You’re doing your best.  I didn’t buy any carne asada to take with me.

They had lots of eggs.  I went with the medium size as they were the cheapest.
Bigger ones were more than Dollar General’s and the brown free range were a whole ten dollar bill.

Next, laundry.

A nice facility.  $2.50 a load and twenty-five cents for eight minutes to dry.
HOT too.  Two old ladies showed me how to operate the washer.  I could have figured it out but its not everyday you get two old ladies to help out an old man.

Last stop, the Little Free Library to drop off a Michael Connelly book.  
See it?  Please don’t tell me I should have picked up the Harry Potter book.

Back at the camp area near Why we pulled in to a new spot just for the night.  I fixed a spot of tea and some cornbread while folding and putting away clothes.  Where’s that one sock I hung up to dry?  I looked all over finally thinking I lost it some where what with all the getting in and out of the vehicle.  I was bummed.  Finally I found it down in the footwell on the driver’s side.  How’d it get down there?  
BEANS!!  That darn cat pulled it down from where it was hanging and hid it from me!
I’m gonna wring a neck!