Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Avoiding the Cholla! The Tucson Chronicles (part 2)

My wife has the uncanny ability to make me do things that I know are stupid and sometimes dangerous. Like taking walks in the desert wilderness. On Tuesday evening we took a walk behind the "Cactus Quail Bed and Breakfast" for a short distance. Why? Because it would be a "nice walk", that's why. There are a couple of problems though. Here is Deborah looking for a place to pee;

The landscape is certainly not squat friendly. Then there is the cholla.

I took a year of botany at university and obviously forgot everything about cactus. Right in the middle of the walk path was a small cute little thing, almost "Tribble" like (if you remember that Star Trek episode) and I just had to stop and look at it to see if it was rooted into the soil. When I realized that it wasn't (by prodding it with my finger) Deborah distracted me with "Look, it came off of that plant behind you."

That is when IT happened. There must be a book written about the stealth of the cholla somewhere, and I have never seen it because that cute little cactus that was no bigger than a few inches long ATTACKED me! It was stuck to my left forefinger and it hurt real bad. So I did what ANY NORMAL person would do, I tried to shake it off. Well that was a BIG mistake. Now I had two spines in my forefinger and another seven in the adjacent index finger. I was really in a world of hurt now. After removing the offending cactus I was left with the task of pulling out the barbed quills which had penetrated quite deep into my fingers. My left hand was out of commission for a couple of days. It is amazing what lengths I go to in order to avoid working on the house!

So here is what a cholla looks like;

So what do you think we did on Wednesday? The wife convinced me that we needed to go on a three mile hike to the base of those mountains that we could see from the back of the B & B. Estimating that this entire six mile "walk" would take us 3 hours to complete I agreed to the venture (like I had a choice!) and we set off around 10 AM following the riding trails that headed towards the mountains. Horses must know more than I do because those trails don't follow a straight line and the ground isn't flat either. We ventured across several wadis and up and down a ravine or two and after a couple of hours we were only half way to our destination. I took another cholla in the right thumb when I was scooping up a handful of pebbles and when it was time for me to to take a waz the view looked like this.

There was NO WAY the family jewels were going to be exposed to these jumping chollas! Just the thought brings tears to my eyes. When the time finally came to watering the cactus this big boy caught my eye.

After 4 hours of romping through the desert wilderness we arrived back to our starting point. Then what do you think we did? That's right! When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! Back to Tucson to look at some more antique stores! This time we found some stuff but held off on buying it thus creating an excuse to do MORE antique shopping later in the week.

At 6:30 PM we met up with the folks at Strawbaleredux for dinner at "Zivaz" and were almost the last people to leave some 3 hours later. You wouldn't think houseblog people would have so much to talk about, I mean to most people lime and shellac are sooooo boring!

If you are thinking of moving to Tucson then you might want to read their blog and build your own house because we checked into the cost of real estate while we were there. An old fixer upper in the city will cost you about $200,000 for a 1000 square foot bungalow style home. Fixed up they sell for $300 - $400,000 on a tiny lot. If it is land that you want, 3.2 acres of land beside a state park was a mere $300,000 and that was just the land! A house near the B & B on 1 acre was $550,000! Who would of thought that living in a desert would be so popular! The bad news is that over 1,000,000 people live in the area now and their water comes from a source that is 300 feet deep. 40 years ago the source was 75 feet deep.

On Thursday we changed locations to the Marriot at Starr Pass for the real reason we went to Tucson, a business conference for all of Deborah's hard work last year! This place is huge, almost too big and comes with a golf course and a health spa. It is a pity I don't golf or do massages at $200 a pop. In fact the only weight lifting I do on a regular basis is 12 oz. bottles! The rooms cost $250 a night for a corporate rate (regularly $540!). Good job we weren't paying for it because $250 equals 25 cans of shellac or 25 sheets of drywall or even 30 strips of bead board in the realm of renovators anonymous! To be honest, we liked the B & B better because it had a better view and it was a lot easier to find the room after a weight lifting session! I can't complain though, the food was good and they had my two favorite beers, "Free" and "Free Lite"!

If you can wait I'll show you pictures of the stuff we bought for the house, all of it breakable of course!


kendra said...

LOL! Now don't pet the chollas, no matter how much they look like tribbles! That's some beautiful country-- I'm glad you guys had such a nice trip.

I always found long flowing skirts to came in handy for walks and long car trips in the desert-- passersby might wonder why you're squatting there looking at a cactus, but they won't see your ass.

Anonymous said...

Don't pet the Teddy Bear Cholla's either! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of these chollas of which you speak. And now I'm horrified!

That picture you took when you mentioned going to take a leak was hilarious with your commentary.

BTW I'd love to see Gary in a long flowing skirt. LOL.

Todd Fratzel said...

Great photos, the desert is really beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in Phoenix we had jumping cholla in our yard. We, the children, still ran around the yard barefoot at times and paid for the pleasure. Those spines are hooked and have some sort of ouchy irritant on them. So, I feel your pain.

sarah said...

ROFL! The cholla saga is great, reminds me of home, in the lovely Mojave Desert. Your pics are very reminiscent of Joshua Tree N.M., which I always thought was beautiful in a desolate way. I never had your adventures with cacti, but we did have an ongoing battle with tumbleweeds living in a rural area. Farmers used to throw them over people's fences to keep them off their crops, so we spent lots of time tossing them back over. And don't even get me started on flying ants! The desert is a funny place.

StrawBoss said...

Hi Guys, I haven't been too electronically active as we've been MOVING!!
Enjoyed your Tucson chronicles and our time with you-however after we parted I realized Deborah didn't get her flan-or I was talking so much I missed it! Maybe next time.