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Add a visit to ‘Cactus Heaven’ to your bucket list

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Many years ago when I was living in Salem, Ore., my parents invited me to accompany them to Phoenix on a business trip. My first exploration of the desert was a truly memorable experience.

I was amazed by the colors of the rocks, the shapes and varieties of interesting and unusual plants, animal tracks, insects, flowering trees and shrubs. After taking a few steps out of the car to investigate the scenery, I felt something sticking to the toe of my shoe. I tried to kick it off with my other shoe, but this resulted in attaching both feet together. You know what happened then … I tried to pick it off my feet and my hand was then stuck also. It was my first experience with the “jumping cactus.” Time to call for help! Luckily my dad came to the rescue with the blade of his pocketknife and flipped it away. I had been treated to my first lesson in desert survival!

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