Daily Archives: January 7, 2010

All the Way from Arizona

All the way from Arizona in 26 days. Postcrossers on a number of blogs that I have visited have been bemoaning the fact that their mail has slowed down over the holiday season. Now we have evidence – Erika (who is a fellow geocacher, postcrosser and blogger) & I were beginning to think that her postcard had gone missing!!  But after almost a month it arrived safely. 

All the way from Arizona!

I’ve had a bit of a fascination with cacti, as that is the only ‘indoor’ plant PB & I have ever had any success with (and even then, ours have gone on a bit of a sulk the last year since we repotted them.) 

Our biggest cactus


The other cacti


So I’ve been equally fascinated by Erika’s photos, and especially the little video she did of a cache hunt one day, which showed cacti ‘skeletons’ – which look at least as interesting as the living plants.

The cacti on this postcard are Giant Saguaro or Carnegiea gigantea. They only grow in a small area of the United States, known as the Sonoran Desert, which is mostly in Arizona and extending a little into the southeast of California and down into Mexico.  The Saguaro can live to 150 or even 200 years old. It grows very very slowly (only a couple of centimetres/one inch a year), so large ones like on the postcard will be many decades old.  It says on a couple of the websites I looked at that the ‘average’ Saguro is 30 feet (9 metres) tall with 5 arms, but they can get up to 50 (15 metres) feet tall, with over 25 arms. The flower of the Saguaro is the State flower of Arizona, and is quite pretty but very short lasting. An individual flower will open overnight, and be gone by midday. In this short time it has hopefully been visited by birds or insects or bats, and pollinated. It is only able to be pollinated by pollen from a different Saguaro.  The flowering season is May-June, and only a few flowers on each cactus will open in one night.

The Saguaro and its desert habitat are very different than anything at all that I am used to in New Zealand, so it’s been educational and interesting  to research.  There were so  many YouTube videos about the desert that I could still be watching them!

Here is a website that has a little video and some more information:  DesertUSA

And here is a video from the Arizona Game & Fish department about Saguaro, 

 and another about the Sonoran Desert 

Arizona was the 48th State admitted to the Union in February 14th, 1912 – now I’m not entirely sure what  that means, not being an American, but it sounds like a kind of important thing. The little pictures on the letters show some of the main attractions in Arizona. (The letters are actually die-cut, though that doesn’t show too well on my scan, which really adds to the character of this postcard!)

Firstly, the Grand Canyon. Although of course I’ve hear of the Grand Canyon, I have to confess that I was not entirely sure where in the USA the Grand Canyon was,  but now I know!  The Grand Canyon is one of the most visually spectacular bits of geology on the Earth.  The Canyon has been carved by the power of water – specifically the Colorado River – and is 277 miles (446 km) long. It varies in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and is over a mile (almost 2 kms) deep. It is still only the second deepest canyon in the world, with there being a deeper canyon in Nepal.  The two sides on the Canyon are quite different as the northern side is higher altitude and more remote than the southern side. 90% of the tourists who visit go to the southern side.  If the Grand Canyon is the most visited location in Arizona, the second most visited spot is a very strange one indeed!

Arizona’s second most visited tourist attraction is the ‘London Bridge!’  Yes, that’s right – the actual London Bridge from London, England.  The bridge was sold in 1968 to a wealthy American, dismantled bit by bit, and ‘rebuilt’ near Lake Havasu which is a man-made lake on the Colorado River at the Arizona/California border.  The bridge was actually re-constructed in concrete, with the stone from the original used to cover this on the outside. The whole reason that Robert McCulloch brought the bridge was to attract residents and tourists to the city he was building at Lake Havasu, though in reality the whole thing is kind of fake, as the bridge is not even across a real river. The bridge was rebuilt on land, then the channel underneath it dug out to create an island.

Two of the other spectacular landscapes shown  in the letters are Monument Valley and the Red Rocks of Sedona, which both also seem to be fascinating places.