Scenic AZ 79
After leaving the Sonoran Desert National Monument, we took AZ 238 to Casa Grande, then 287 to Florence and headed south on AZ 79. We did this because AZ 79 is labeled a ‘scenic route’ on the map, and I can definitely confirm it is scenic! First, we encountered Cholla cacti that were far and away the tallest I have ever seen. They towered over my head, in some cases.
There were several areas where some of the cholla were blooming. Although they looked very similar in form (I, at least, couldn’t tell them apart), they had different colors of flowers ranging from yellow to brown to dark red.
Whilst taking pictures of the flowers, we got covered in cholla bits, which are called ‘jumping cactus’ for a very good reason. Although you think you are not touching the cactus, you feel pain in your arm, foot, leg, etc., look down and find a cholla bit attached to your flesh. “Hah!” you think. “I’d better get that cholla bit off my arm.”
Think again. That cholla bit has barbed spines, and wherever you grab it to remove it from your arm/hand/leg/foot/shoe/shirt/dog-body-part, it will instantly stick to your hand and dig additional spines into your fingers. In the end, after much pain and bleeding and wild flailing of hands, you will find yourself picking it out spine by spine with a pair of tweezers while each spine holds on like grim death. Try this on a yelping dog who is attempting to pull away from your tweezers to avoid the pain. Then try it on your yelping self, as you attempt to pull away from the tweezers to avoid the pain, and find the stupid cholla bit detaching itself from one finger only to leap over and embed itself into another.