A Green Desert

Finally, I got out for a hike: first real one since I was sick at Imperial Dam. It was only about three miles, but it felt great to be away from the trailer and to see expansive views!

Senita Basin

This area of Organ Pipe Cactus Monument is named after the Senita Cactus, which grows a lot like the Organ Pipe, but it has fewer sides and thus fewer angles, and the thorns are grey and whiskery. Both the Senita and the Organ Pipe (first and second pics) grow abundantly in the Sonoran Desert in Mexico, but this park is the only place where they grow in the U.S.

Here’s the skeleton of a Saguaro, which is surprisingly hard and strong. Well, maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise seeing as how slow-growing they are. Here, where there’s some precipitation, they begin to produce flowers at age 35, and they grow branches at age 50-75. Really.

The NSP says, ”An adult saguaro is generally considered to be about 125 years of age. It may weigh 6 tons or more and be as tall as 50 feet. The average life span is probably 150 – 175 years of age. However, biologists believe that some plants may live over 200 years.”

Throughout the basin, I was pretty stoked to see so many ocotillo trees sprouting green leaves, and some even red flowers.

What’s super weird (to me) is that the cholla here are so danged tall. At Joshua Tree they reached your knee, just about, but here they seem to be more like trees. The trunks are a hard brown like they have bark (that’s what Tracy’s reaching to touch, below). And they spread like crazy by dropping bits off, which root in the sand.

The Wall

Here’s an aside from our drive to this basin; call it an editorial. We’d seen the wall between the U.S. and Mexico when we’d crossed over into Los Algodones, plus from a distance through our driving in southern Arizona. Today we got quite the close-up view.

While hiking yesterday, Tracy spotted an abandoned backpack that could have been left by a immigrant, and, our friends Doug and Melanie saw ropes made from clothing hanging over the wall when they were here.

You see signs like this near the wall as well as at trailheads.

Plus, right outside the Serita Basin we spotted this water barrel; actually we spotted the flag high above it first. I hardly dared to get out of the truck to take a picture for fear of a border patrol agent jumping me. They fly low over the border frequently, and you see their trucks all around.

Why do we work so hard to limit immigration to let in only people with certain skills? Are we fearful of using up our resources of food and housing? Seems like the very people we’re working so hard to keep out are those who would be contributing to those resources. Seems also like, if we were to allocate some of the border budget to integrating more immigrants, we’d be an even stronger country. But, I know that’s a controversial subject, and I’m certainly no immigration or economic expert. Seeing that honking big wall and that water barrel with the high flag above it, and hearing about the clothes Tracy found in the desert, all rekindled my policy doubts, though. The vast, open, desert certainly inspires thought, even this green one.

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