(Not) Drinking from Cacti & Other Fun Road Trip Facts

Whee! We recently drove from California to New Mexico for the Left Coast Crime conference. I love gathering random factoids on road trips.

At a pit stop in Phoenix, we stopped by the Desert Botanical Garden. Thank goodness it wasn’t too hot. (The temp would go up to high 80s later on.) I was wowed by all sorts of cacti (but please don’t give me a pop quiz on them). Unfortunately, I was also sad to discover that you can’t really drink water out of a barrel cactus. It’s more like a glue or sap that you can’t digest. Guess I’m sticking to keeping loads of water on me in the desert!

I also got to check out the beautiful palo verde, the state tree of Arizona. Palo verde means “green stick,” and the tree is given that name because of the color of the bark. It’s this bark that is filled with chlorophyll and can perform photosynthesis.

Once in New Mexico, I got to try a few different kinds of snacks and beverages. One interesting drink I had was the piñon cola. After I got it out of my head that it was supposed to be a piña colada, I really enjoyed it. The pine nut flavor makes it distinctive and enjoyable.

I was too lazy to get up for a sunrise hot air balloon ride, but I did go to a local museum about them. Happily, I discovered that the first passengers of a hot air balloon ride were a duck, a sheep, and a rooster. I also saw an art-o-mat machine; it’s a vending machine where you can pay for original cigarette pack-sized artwork.

Speaking of unique machines, I even spotted a working pay phone on this road trip:     

Hope you enjoyed all the travel trivia!

It's Conference Time!
Wordless Wednesday: Malice Domestic 2022


  1. What a fun trip, Jennifer! I adore road trips so I really enjoyed reading about your adventures. A pay phone is SO vintage! Glad you had a good time both on the road and at the conference. Best to you!

    • Jennifer Chow says

      Thank you, Evelyne! It’s been such a long time since I’ve gone on a road trip. Takes longer, but I like the side journeys.

  2. Love New Mexico! Good for you for trying piñon. My favorite NM treat are sopapillas.

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