Friday, January 2, 2009

Skull Searching

I didn't go shopping the after-Christmas sales this year, so the money I saved will be spent on gas and lunches for the day trips I have planned for the next few months! Here is the first of the New Year.

It was a warm 70 degrees, and we just had to get out to explore the desert again! Our destination on this day trip was to see an oddity, 'The Skull', that had been mentioned in the local paper last month. I had never heard of it before, even having lived in this region practically my whole life. Last year I took a photo of Frog Rock near the Congress/Yarnell area, and Scull Rock is in that same area.

We took dirt roads to get to our destination. This part of the desert is thick with Creosote bushes and Mesquite trees, with just a few cacti scattered here and there.

On the way, we saw a black hill that is supposedly made out of lava from an ancient eruption. It does look like lava flows running down the sides, but maybe it's actually water rivulets. We used to search these types of formations for obsidian, which are a glassy volcanic rock, so maybe these are old volcanoes. As kids, finding an obsidian was a real treat. Not that we found many--but when we did find an area that had them, we'd spend hours trying to find the most transparent ones. Obsidian is a dull black until you hold it up to the light, so you never knew what you had without the transparency test!

Well, after seeing some great scenery on the way, we found it!

The Skull

Locals say this rock painted to look like a skull been there as long as they can remember. The Frog Rock was painted in 1928, and this was painted around the same time, but not by the same person. It was well worth the drive to check it out.

This hedgehog was near the dirt road on the way to find The Skull. There were quite a few in the area. This will look stunning when it blooms! I hope to get to the area when it happens!

I love the Vulture Mine road to Wickenburg. It is thick with beautiful, fat saguaros that haven't been damaged by vandals.

Teddy Bear Chollas and our Arizona state tree--a Palo Verde, in the background.

Mistletoe has completely overtaken this tree. I think it is a Palo Verde. Desert mistletoe feeds on the tree and causes a decline and will eventually kill it, although it takes a long time. Birds eat the Mistletoe berries and spread the seeds to other branches and other trees. There isn't any hope for trees in the wild after this parasite starts to grow.

Ironwood, a tree that just keeps going despite a lot of abuse! This tree blooms in May with beautiful pink to purple flowers that last less than two weeks. Ironwood is the longest-lived Sonoran Desert plant and has the hardest and heaviest wood. It is used in landscapes and medians, but not as much as other desert trees because it is very slow growing.

We saw an unusual sight, where three Saguaros were growing so close together it appeared as if it was one cactus. You can tell it's three separate cactuses by looking at the three trunks. You can tell the size of the cacti--that's hubby standing there beside these giant cacti.

It was strange that there wasn't any other Saguaros around the area, just these. The surrounding desert was just a lot of brush and few trees. Maybe these huddled close together to have company!


Claude said...

Beautiful... and you HAVE to go back to take pics of the hedgehogs in bloom. The saguaros are fantastic, and skull rock is really cool too... I don't have any day trips here to compare.

Aiyana said...

That Saguaro cluster is amazing! I've not seen that before--I'll have to mention it to some folks at DGB. What's also interesting about it is the new arms growing so close to the ground. That's something else that you don't see every day!

Julie said...

What an awesome scenic and just plain wonderful! I wish I could go there one day!!! The skull rock and the black volcanic mountin are so neat. All those strange yet devine Arizona desert plants and trees...just heavenly!!!
Teddy Bear Cholla are so cute, but I don't think I would want to be near one!!!

Alex said...

70 degrees!!!? (30 here) And skull searching? Hmmm... :)

Hope you have a good week.

Suzanne said...

Wow - I felt like I was there with you! 70 degrees sound heavenly! Loved the "skull" rock and all the other interesting sites.

Jenn said...

"Ironwood is the longest-lived Sonoran Desert plant" - better say tree. They've discovered that creosote bushes are ancient - some are over 11,000 years old!

Isn't that cool?

Pudgeduck said...

Jenn- you are right! I meant to say -One of the longest-lived Sonoran desert plants.