Tohono O’Odham Mine ... Rowdy rides Gunshot!

Trip Start Jan 18, 2013
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Trip End Mar 01, 2013


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Where I stayed
In Our Winter Home in Arizona City, AZ
What I did
Tohono O’Odham Mine

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tohono O'Odham Mine Trip

Tuesday, 5MAR2013

We're up early to get a sunrise shot over D&G's campsite (at the end of our street!) in Arizona City, AZ.

Today was another trip out on the Rhino…   this was a short one but a fun one…  Only 12 miles from the house and 15 miles or so of off road work… we were gone 3 hours or so…. We loaded up then 5 minutes on the road we encountered an Arizona State Trooper with it's lights flashing in our lane of the road... a wide load ... Obviously we needed to be on the shoulder for this one to pass by!  Interesting drama!

I’ve decided to share a short piece of plant science we learned this winter…  Most of the Cactus that grow here have a set of spines that grow vertical in the Cactus so that they can expand and contract as they absorb and lose their water…  We’ve take a picture of a Saguaro Cactus that has died and is lying on its side… you’ll notice at its base is what’s left of the outer skin or bark….  I’m going to have to ask the correct term on Thursday night when we go to the Tucson Cactus & Succulent Society (TCSS) meeting http://www.tucsoncactus.org/ … but for now we’ll just call the outer portion of the Cactus the skin…   so if you notice some of the photos the side of the Saguaro is pleated like an accordion….   When there is a lot of water the Cactus swells and becomes round…. And when it dries out the outside shrinks and the pleats show as the water leaves the plant…  so it needs vertical limbs (spines) to support the Cactus and the pleats to allow it to swell and shrink based on how much water it has..   So when you get into an area where there’s been a lot of moisture the plants are more round than pleated and in a drier year they are more pleated from lack of water…

The needles on almost all the Cactus we’ve encountered here are tough as a nail…  not more than 1/16" in diameter but hard as a nail so that if you grab one needle you can’t break it in half nor bend it….  And those needles protect the precious water inside the plant from those animals who might wish to come along and break in for the moisture…  and as you’ll see on the red needles of the close up of a Barrel Cactus…  they are curved and have a hook on the end…  If you look at the close up… those needles are 2-3” long….  these needles as well as the other needles on the other Cactus you’ll find in the desert here are touch on the clothes, the skin and on the hide of the dog….  Please see the very close up photo marked "”Red Fish Hook Barrel Cactus”…..  One last and very important point about Cactus In the wild…. They are all protected…  you can’t transport a Cactus without a permit or proof of purchase from a local nursery..   the ticket for failure to have a permit $$$$...

I wear strong leather gloves when working to transplant some of the Cactus we have in the yard and the needles still pierce the leather like a sewing machine needle…  right through and into the skin… ouch…  and ouch again…

So now the short lesson in Cactus 101 is over for the day and we were again out in the Rhino…   not more than maybe 20 miles today….  And not so much dust as rocks…  but as we ran across the desert we have to cross some of the arroyo’s… (Jim's Spanish lesson!)  “”””An arroyo (/əˈrɔɪ/; Spanish: [aˈroʝo]), a Spanish word translated as brook, and also called a wash is usually a dry creek or stream bedgulch that temporarily or seasonally fills and flows after sufficient rain.[1] Wadi is a similar term in Africa. In Spain, a rambla has a similar meaning to arroyo. In Hispanic America any small river might be called arroyo, even if it flows continually all year and is never dry.”””

We followed a power line road for a few miles and then turned into the mountains to where we had seen mines noted on the map… Our friends Dale & Gail J. enjoy rock hunting and he wanted to head up to the mines to see what we could see… (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bear_Went_Over_the_Mountain_%28song%29   “The other side of the mountain was all that we could see!”)  As we approached the first one… we parked and walked to the entrance in the ground… in this case it was nothing but a 6-8 ft diameter hole in the hill side at a 45* angle down…  we didn’t have a light so we pitched a rock down the hole… and listened….  The first time we weren’t expecting a clunk, clunk, clunk to go on for as long as it did so the second and third time we pitched a rock down the hole we tried to gauge the time http://www.doi.gov/restoration/news/cyprus-tohono-mine-phase-ii-draft-restoration-plan.cfm … we’d guess (SWAG) at 5-6 seconds over a (WAG)...  WAG = wild ass guess, SWAG = scientific wild ass guess… so what made it a SWAG over a WAG, we used a watch… None of us had a clue how far a rock would pitch down a hole so we opened the cell phone and called a Geologist we know at Golden Spike… if Mike gets back to us before we publish this… I’ll update this, if not you’ll just have to agree that a rock goes one hell of a long way over 5-6 seconds dropping down a hole… 

The second mine was larger, the shaft was 10 ft in diameter and we could actually walk down this shaft, where the other one required a rope to be lowered… as we had no torch (British for Flashlight) we didn’t venture in… but have decided to put one on our list of things to carry in our ditty bag on the Rhino… 

Rowdy rides Gunshot!  Today was a couple of firsts for Rowdy... His first actual trip on the Rhino & he actually drank water while on the trip!  We’ve now taught Rowdy to ride in the back of the Rhino… the first mile we tethered him to the bed and then he relaxed, took a nap and we then un-tethered him and would drop the tailgait at each stop and let him run and chase the Rabbits... I think at each stop the dog does at least 1-2 miles of running and he’s liking being called back to “Load up Rowdy” so he can lay down and rest…  BTW we ran across a lot of Coyote Scat (poop)…  in the dust we’d see rabbit tracks, what we believe is a lizard of some kind…  4 small tracks with a line drawn between them…  we assume his tail dragging in the dust… 

Always on the lookout we often see Red Tailed Hawks http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/red-tailed_hawk/id  in the tops of the Saguaro’s waiting for some un-suspecting prey to wonder by and it can swoop down and grab it…  

The trip today was fun, short, and uneventful…  the only way to be….  Again too much sun and it was warm….  But, what a great day….

****  Tucson Cactus & Succulent Society (TCSS) http://www.tucsoncactus.org/ is a non profit… it was started a lot of years ago…  as I remember 25-30 years ago as a venue to move Cactus off of road expansion, building sights and other locations were they would just get plowed under with road equipment…  the Society is contacted by the local road crews, and volunteers go out and remove those that are in the way and see that they are transplanted to a safe spot….  And they’ve been doing it for so long the local building code enforcement people will suggest to builders to contact them for remover and transplant… it’s a free service and frees the contractor up from having to do this….     In addition where there are County, State and Federal lands they go out and mark them when there’s a controlled burn so that the Cactus that are protected can be kept out of the controlled burn area…. Either by transplant or by marking them with GPS points on a map and nylon flags so that the burn crews can hoe away the vegetation around the plant to protect it from the controlled burn (burning off weeds)…

Happy Trails!
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