Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Of critters and cacti

Hello stranger.  Cute, isn't he.  Above is Clark's spiny lizard, the male of the species, recognized by the blue throat.  He was busy doing push-ups on the wall.  When I asked the Park Ranger about him, I was told he does that to show off for the females.  Must be a universal 'guy thing'.

We saw lots of Prickly Pear cactus and even had salad dressing with prickly pear reduction.  Some plants were in bloom:

We also saw soap plant yucca in bloom, really quite impressive.

And these folks love seeing cottonwood trees, which I personally detest.  Seems these trees only grow where water is present and use lots of it.  Seems to me you would find the water and get rid of the water hog in the desert, but what do I know.

We also saw desert agave, below with its tall spike.  No, this is not the same plant that we get agave nectar from.  For those of you wondering what agave nectar is - well, you are probably not.  The blooms were quite spectacular. 
And then there was 'sacred datura', which is related to the night-shade that grows in Michigan, which is poisonous and not anywhere near as pretty.  Actually, here it is an ugly, smelly vine, IMHO.

I saw more wildlife on this trip than on any other I have ever taken.  Pronghorn sheep, elk, bison, mule deer (eating plants in the parking lot at Zion, of course), turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, and the usual assortment of squirrels and chipmunks.  Unfortunately, the animals were a little harder to take pictures of since we were usually travelling when we saw them.  Not like in my back yard where the deer stop for a Kodak moment.

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