Solbit’s reward, a desert palm oasis

Dear Nicalai,

Our reward for a long uphill hike came into view long before we got there: a desert palm oasis.  Have you ever been to a palm oasis before? It has water that bubbles up from under the ground.  These big palm trees grow there and create shade.  The shade makes the place pleasantly cool.  Papa said he’d like to take a nap here.

This oasis is in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California.

This oasis is in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California.

I think the palm trees here are called California Fan Palms.  I kept looking for the switch to turn their fans on, but Papa explained that I was wasting my time.  Yeah, palm trees aren’t hooked up to electricity.

Remember my last letter to you with the photo of me on a Beaver Tail Cactus?  Don’t waste your time looking for beavers either.  No beavers in this desert.  Well, I said I’d tell you more about our walk in the desert.

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Cactus plants conserve water.

You might think the desert is just really dry and hot and full of dusty rocks.  It has all that, but what a lovely place, too.  It has all kinds of flowers.

Anza-Borrego State Park

Desert flowers look delicate but they’re tough to live in a desert.

The flowers have wonderful odors.  Nona said, “Solbit, you might want to use a different word than odors.”  “Like what word, Nona?”  I replied.  She suggested a word that’s new to me, but I’m going to try to use it a lot so I remember it.  Know what she suggested?  “Fragrances.” Yeah, “wonderful fragrances” or “the fragrances of flowers.”  I guess it does sound better than “flower odors.”

Also, Papa very, very carefully put me up on an Ocotillo plant.  It has really sharp stickers, but it gave me a good view — perspective — on the desert around me.

Ocotillo get pretty tall.

Ocotillo get pretty tall.

That’s when I asked, “Hey, what are all those holes in the desert floor, Papa?”  He told me, “Solbit, I’m going to set you down by one of those holes. You wait there until you see something.  OK?”

The desert floor has a lot of these holes.

The desert floor has a lot of these holes.

Next thing you know, I’m making friends with this little girl.  She’s some kind of bug, but I didn’t find out what kind.  Maybe you know?  I think she was giving off a smell that was not a fragrance. Nona said I could use the word odor, but maybe it wasn’t the bug. Maybe it was something rotting on the desert floor nearby.  I don’t know.  I’m still learning about these things.

Anza-Borrego State Park

Papa says I need to ask an entomologist what this bug is. They know all about insects.

We heard that the holes are also used by snakes and rodents, but I didn’t see those.  Given my size, probably it’s better that I didn’t see them when I was on the desert floor.  They could have mistaken me for an appetizer! Maybe next time we’re walking in the desert, I’ll see a snake, from the safety of Nona’s pocket.  That would be cool.

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

February 2014

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”

Solbit’s Horn With A View

Dear Nicalai,

When we stopped in Rancho Mirage — on our way to Palm Springs — and saw this big guy, I asked Papa, “What’s that?” He shrugged and said, “Must be a big horned something or other.”

Nona, as usual, had done her research and knew the answer, “Solbit, that’s an imperiled species, called a Desert Bighorn Sheep. Do you know that by 1985, only about 280 of these sheep remained in southern California?”  I said,  “Quick, Nona, get a picture of  me with him, before he goes the way of my iguanodon ancestors!”

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Can you find me on the tip of the horn? Quite a view up here!

Don’t worry, this Desert Bighorn Sheep isn’t real, or, well, it’s real, but it’s a sculpture, not a living breathing mountain beast. (Hey, it’s sort of like me only bigger!) I hope we get to see the real one’s when we go hiking this month in the mountains.  Nona says that, thanks to conservation efforts, the Big Horn Sheep population here has grown in recent years, so we have a chance of seeing them this month.

Yeah, we’re here for a month, and wait until you see our AirBnB here in Palm Springs.

Walk through that palm gate to find a secluded pool and garden full of the fragrance of jasmine.

Walk through that palm gate to find a secluded pool and garden full of the fragrance of jasmine.

Nice, huh.  I plan to spend my afternoons poolside snoozing.  Nona and Papa’s friends and family back on the east coast are freezing and nearly shoulder deep in snow, but I’m in wonderful Jurassic-appropriate 80F temperatures and clear blue skies!

Why’s it so warm here?  Desert.  You might think desert means just hot sand, but the desert has a lot of life in it.  Look at these beautiful plants.  They’re called cactus plants.

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Watch out, these pretty little things have sharp stickers!

Don’t get too close to them though.  The spines on them are like needles and they can give a girl reason to yell, “OUCH!”

Anza-Borrego State Park

Girl, take my advice, don’t try this. Take my word for it. My word for it is “ouch.”

I overheard this mom tell her little one, “Now, sweetie, look but don’t touch the cactus.”

Mom's know best, but kids will test.

Mom’s know best, but kids will test.

As soon as she turned her back, the innocent little kid was running over to one of those cactus plants, hand stretched out to feel it.  The next thing that mom heard was …you guessed it…screaming.  “Ouch!”  That’s what I like to call “learning by doing.”  Fortunately, no permanent harm was done.

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These flower have eye popping color, don’t they. I wonder, is that why they’re called poppies?

Not all the plants in the desert are prickly.  These poppies and flowers are, as Nona told me, “…pleasing to the eye.”  Papa said that our world is full of beauty, and we just need to look for it wherever we are.  I said, “OK, Papa, but this desert is also full of rocks, gravel, snakes, and spiders, and I’m going to look out for them too.”

I’m your friend.

Love,

Solbit

February 2015

*New reader? Get oriented below.

  • You may be asking yourself, “Who is Solbit?” Solbit is a fictional character, but she is a real plastic dinosaur, sent to us unsolicited in a package we ordered from Photojojo. So, she’s a plastic jurassic. Solbit is short for the four names given her by our grandchildren: Sparkle, Orangie, Lulu, Breakit. We tend to use her given names for when she’s been naughty. Thank you for visiting Tales of a Plastic Jurassic. Solbit likes company and hopes you’ll come back.
  • You can learn more about Solbit at her About page and in the earlier posts, “Solbit: How I Got My Name” and “Solbit: How I Got to Travel.”