Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vulture Mines, Why, Coffee Pots

Armistice Day 2010 came along and offered yet another long-ish weekend to get out and make some kind of gesture toward meeting myself somewhere. I decided to go up to Vulture Mine Road to take a look at a form of Echinomastus that most have included in Echinomastus johnsonii, but that is in fact noticeably different. Marc Baker has resurrected Pinkney's old name arizonicus and includes these in that form. They seem somehow intermediate between johnsonii and acunensis. Just up the road the other way, north of Wickenburg about 20 miles, populations of yellow flowered johnsonii (sometimes called 'lutescens') are quite dense. The next nearest Echinomastus occurrences to Vulture Mine Road are to the west, near Bouse, where Baker indicates the forms are definitely arizonicus. I finally made it out there last spring, but that's another post.

Beautiful golden-yellow spines on Mammillaria grahamii:
Saguaro skin:
Fierce cholla spines on the way to Interstate 10:
Love the way Ferocactus cylindraceus spines catch the light:
This Ferocactus reminiscent of 'tortulispinus' from Laguna Chapala, Baja.

I drove all the way to Why just in time to check out the sparse population of Peniocereus striatus in a very remote area. It was a real thrill to find these the first time, as they had sort of fallen off the Arizona radar since the '80s. Apparently, the crews building the border fence/wall have found a great many of them all along the border, in completely inaccessible places.
Peniocereus striatus. Is it the same as Neoevansia digueti? I'd like to investigate that some more. There are confusing reports in the literature about these two names. Most now consider them one and the same plant. I'm not so sure, having seen the Baja plants that go by digueti. Time (and flower pictures!) will tell.

Back toward Ajo for the night. Not the greatest idea, to stay there. A lot of memories from the past. But I did want to try to get out to Coffee Pot Mountain to try to find yet another population of Echinomastus. I balanced heart-soreness with cactus avarice. The latter won, barely.

In many travels throughout the Southwest US and Mexico, I have seen a great many shrines. Some of these are clearly dedicated to those who have died on the road. Some just seem to be shrines to the La Virgen, placed in mysterious locations for unknown reasons.

Many have candles that are lit and must be regularly visited. Some have high tech solar powered candles. I love the water bottle and the Budweiser can. I was tempted to leave a couple of Ibuprofen.

La Siesta Motel, cozy cabins. Fiercely non-smoking. Note that it says WHEN, not if. Bucko.
The next morning, out the road to Coffee Pot Mountain from Ajo. A welcoming sign:

Ridiculously spiny form of Ferocactus wislizeni that I think someone has proposed giving a special name.

Fooling around with exposure.
Encountered this old crest along the way:

And this gunslinger:

Another nice Ferocactus, this one called emoryi.

The road, of course, just got worse and worse. I almost got stuck several times and bottomed out over and over again. One of these days, I will snag something high clearance and 4 wheel drive. The poor Honda has been places not even mules should go.

I never found the population of Echinomastus acunensis that is on Coffee Pot Mountain. I headed back to Ajo just in time for some good light to catch the white buildings and blue sky, reminiscent of Greece or Spain.

Not sure I met myself anywhere. The past was too much with me. I may even have left myself out there. It's unmanageable, this soul retrieval project. It's not the worst place in the world to stay lost.

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