The Cactus Patch
Volume 14       March 2011      Number 03

Joshua Tree and Jurupa Mountain
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On the 27th of January Polly and I set off for her sister Ginny’s house in Joshua Tree. After a brief rest at Kramer Junction (aka Four Corners) we went on to Barstow. We saw a sign pointing to a Harvey House. We had just read a book on these and so set off to find it. After much misdirection, we found it- a huge brick building labeled Casa del Desierto on the other side of the tracks. One of the two ballrooms has been restored and is available for events. Nothing else of the huge building seems to be open. These Harvey Houses were an innovative step in the emancipation of women at the beginning of the twentieth century. The trains had no dining cars, so a series of restaurants was set up and young women were hired to serve in them. This gave them unprecedented opportunities for employment and travel.

Despite the detour, we made it to Joshua Tree in time for supper and a presentation on Turkey and Greece. Ginny’s husband Bob is a retired minister and has made up this show from their travels. I was particularly fascinated by the churches carved out of rock which bare many similarities to those we had visited in Ethiopia! For once our visit had lively conversation!

Next morning we visited a Water-Wise Garden center which, naturally, had a number of succulents. Some of the exotic Euphorbias had frozen back and their Aloe marlothii lacked the usual prickles across the leaf (a hybrid?), but it was generally well done. We then proceeded to the National Park and hiked around Barker Dam. There were a number of plants of Dudleya saxosa and some petroglyphs which had been spoiled by over-painting. We then proceeded to Keys View where we could see the Salton Sea and the San Andreas Fault. Next we visited the Visitors center where I bought “Indian Use of Desert Plants” by James W. Cornett. There was not much in it that I had not read elsewhere.

On the 29th we set out for the Jurupa Mountain Cultural Center which is just north of Riverside. Just at the edge of Riverside construction closed all but one lane of freeway which led us south! We left the freeway and made our way through town. We still reached the Cultural Center in time. It is an interesting place full of fossils, dinosaur statues and, of course, a succulent garden. I now know what the Mammoth model on the hill above the freeway which we had noticed in the past is all about. The Aloes were plentiful and in bloom, the Euphorbias and Pachypodiums were in good health and the refreshments plentiful. Buck Hemenway gave an excellent tour. There is even a nursery selling a few plants. I can recommend this annual event for future trips (but an overnight stopover is recommended).

On the 1st of February we went to “A Grand Night of Music” at Rabobank. It consisted of combined instrumentalists and choristers from all over Kern County. Our niece Angela was honored to be in the choir. It was well done and there was a full house.

On the 3rd we went to the succulent meeting in Fresno and heard about Plant Hormones from Ernest Sondoval of the UC Davis Nursery. I’m surprised how little has changed in forty years. (Am I an expert? Well, when we had a staff meeting in the Biology Department at the University of Malawi we were asked, “Who will teach Plant Physiology?” I blurted out, “Don’t look at me. I’ve only had one course.” The head countered with, “That’s one more than anyone else”, so I taught it.)

The Honigs were more interesting at the BCSS meeting on the 8th. I’m happy to see the area below the bluffs protected. Of all the four protected areas I know of, this is the closest to Bakersfield and so is appropriate for the “Bakersfield Cactus”.

The mail this month has been interesting. I shall talk about a couple of items in the report on the brag table, but one item must be dealt with here. Oskar Nadler of Heidelberg Germany has responded to what was written in the May 2007 Cactus Patch. He strenuously objects to my two paragraph review of his book, “The Arrow Poisons of the !kung Bushman Hunters” and has asked for it to be removed from the website. I wrote back that I stand by what I wrote and will not ask for such removal. I have sent my reply to the board for discussion along with his letter. I think in the future it should be stated that anything I write is my opinion and not necessarily that of the BCSS. I would have thought that was obvious, but such things are best spelled out.

Polly in Ballroom

Bob, Ginny & Polly, Waterwise Garden

Buck Hemenway, Aloe Garden

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