Getting to know Tucson

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Many of the passengers of our executive transportation service are new to the Tucson area, and they tend to have questions about the desert environment. So we here at Diamond Transportation would like to offer our guests the opportunity to get to know Tucson a little better by learning about the inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert. When you visit Tucson for the first time you are likely to be struck by two things: The phrase, “Tucson: It’s a dry heat,” really means “Ever wonder what instant mummification feels like? Visit Tucson!” or maybe “Tucson! It’s like the inside of a toaster!” And while you’re standing on the sidewalk, shoes melting all over the pavement and wondering how you took off from Minneapolis and landed on the warm side of Mercury, through the heat-warped desert air you’ll notice a few large, friendly locals waving at you. You’ll also notice they’re green and have far more arms than you’re accustomed to. Maybe splash some water on your face (the immediate, hissing evaporation is perfectly normal) to clear your eyes and head. Those aren’t people, or aliens, or products of your flash-fried imagination. They’re cacti and special ones at that. The Mighty and Noble Saguaro Known as the saguaro, these spiny giants are only found in the Sonoran Desert. They live up to 200 years and grow very slowly; they may only grow an inch in their first 10 years. It takes about 100 years for a saguaro to reach 15 feet, and when fully grown they can attain heights over 40 feet. The tallest ever measured was 78 feet tall. They have anywhere from 0 to 25 arms (it’s unknown what causes this wide variance), are covered in spines that grow up to 1mm per day and can absorb so much rain water that their trunk visibly expands. They can weigh up to 2 tons when fully engorged. We’re quite fond of our saguaro and harming one is illegal in Arizona. Cutting one down is a class four felony. And really, why would you hurt one of these guys? They look so friendly and polite. But now that you’ve gotten acquainted with the star of the Cactaceae family here in Tucson, it’s time to meet the less savory members of the clan. The Villainous and Wicked Cholla This is the cholla. It looks so fluffy and inviting, like a pile of chubby little teddy bears covered in rabbit fur! Is it a plant you can pet? Is this some kind of kitty-cactus hybrid thing? Oh, look how it seems to tremble and jump out at you as you pass. I think it wants a hug! Obviously, that’s a lie. It’s a cactus, a mean one, and it wants to murder you. That fluff is a blanket of blood-thirsty spines and that trembling is what happens when the cholla is stirred by the wind or the slightest brush and signals the end of your pleasant day. Cholla are six to fifteen feet of …