The Cactus Patch
Volume 12       September 2009      Number 9

Las Vegas Birthday
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Lately everything is relative – lots of them. My sister Lora arrived with her husband Dave, son Joshua and daughter Angela from Kwajalein, Marshall Islands on 11th July. Then my sister Karen arrived with her granddaughter Aubrey from Sacramento. My brother Robert came in from Rosedale and we had a family portrait with my Mother and all five of her kids. Our son James with Emily and our grandson Michael came to Bakersfield on the 24th on the way back from a long tour of the US west.

On the 25th We drove up to Sacramento with James et al.. They continued on north on the 26th and Polly & I drove over to San Francisco for the Norcal Show and sale. Unfortunately we chose the northern route along Suisun Bay just when there was a race meet which crammed the narrow road with bumper to bumper cars. We finally got to Golden Gate Park only to find a lot of NO LEFT TURN signs. We tried right turns, but found barricades up for a marathon. We finally got to the show & sale, but there was no parking. Fortunately I found Nick who showed us the sales area parking. I bought a few plants (including Euphorbia cactus). Then we toured the show with Nick’s Bombax and its prize ribbon in the center. The arts and crafts section was full and included a quilt of cactus prints!

On the 27th Polly & I drove north to Greenville where James et al. live. I 80 was under construction so we had more delays. On the 27th we went shopping at Susanville on the east side of the Sierras and there were delays due to trenching on the road. On the 28th we hit thrift shops in Greenville and on the 29th we went to the farmers’ market at Quincy. Afterward we ate at Pangea with its strange fusion food.

James was off on Friday the 31st so we all went up to Lassen Volcanic National Park. I was the only one who had been there – when I was a kid and learning geology from my father (I never had a formal course). They make it easy now with models at the entrance- I had to climb the different volcanoes. Michael was impressed by the sulfur springs and when we had hard-boiled eggs for lunch he said, “Eggs smell like bubbles!” We stopped at the trail up Mt. Lassen, but it was closed and Michael played in the snow at the base. Some of the snow was red with algae. Finally we drove on down to Kings Creek and Michael played in the icy water while I photographed the “spring” wildflowers including tall stalks of Corn Lilies. There were smaller blooms of pussy paws, a relative of portulacas.

On 1st Aug. we drove back to Sacramento and looked at lots of cave pictures from the international conference which John went to in Texas. We also saw deer in the creek behind his house and went to a couple of movies. We returned on the 3rd.

On the 6th of Aug., we went to the Fresno CSS meeting and learned about succulent Bonsai from Rudy Lime. On the 11th, of course, we had dinner at Cactus Valley.

On the 15th we went to the Tri-city show and sale at the LA Arboretum. Paul had some excellent plants entered in the exhibit. The books were depressing as most of them were from Chuck Everson’s collection. I wish I could have bought them all. I bought a few as well as some plants (including Amorphophalus konjac, a recent addition to the list of weight reducers).

After lunch we went to Chinatown in LA for an exhibit on Oildale art, but were not impressed.

Returning to Bakersfield we had miles of bumper to bumper traffic on I 5 due to a fire just south of Pyramid Lake.

But back to April:

After the CSSA convention we drove past Phoenix and on up highway 60 to Wickenburg. There we had lunch by the Hassayampa River where there is a preserve which protects the rare Gilbert’s skink. We saw humming birds and quail. We then drove along the Joshua Tree Forest Parkway to Wikieup. I was surprised to see low desert Saguaros and Ocotillos among the high desert Joshua Trees and Junipers. Beaver Tails and hedgehog cacti were in bloom. At Hoover Dam we ran into a crawling traffic jam for a long stretch. A bridge to the south of the dam is under construction, but it should have been built twenty years ago. We made it into Los Vegas a bit late.

Next morning (17th April) we went to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum at my request to see the Ichthyosaur which is the state fossil of Nevada. In the afternoon Anne took us to see a Beatles recreation, “Fab Four Live”. This was a birthday treat (my birthday is the 18th). As we exited I flashed a peace sign at “John” and received one in return. That night we ate at the historic Bay Diner and watched the gaudy four block digital ceiling display on Fremont Street. Polly arranged a birthday picture with a show girl and then we got lost in the slots on the way back to the car. Polly & Anne were amazed when I said, “Here’s the way out -- right by the bent over bromeliad!”

Next day (18th April) we drove out to Blue Diamond Nursery and shopped for glass, rocks and plants. Then we went up the road to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (not to be confused with the State Park in Kern County) and saw the red cliffs as well as lots of dead yuccas - presumably from fire). We then drove down to the California border and had lunch at the Primm Valley Resort. After lunch we stopped at Baker to visit “Alien Fresh Jerky”. Is this legal? Somehow Baker is connected to Area 51, etc. Finally we stopped at the Early Man Site near Calico and saw where stone tools of such antiquity were found that experts said they couldn’t be that old when Leaky dated them to 200,000 years ago.

This ends the saga of the Tucson trip.

Bruce and Ichthyosaur

Bridge at Boulder Dam

Birthday Picture

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