Don’t Hug these Teddy Bears–Ever

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Ouch. Cactus needles stuck in hand.

We just returned home from a great trip to Joshua Tree National Park in California. This 1,234 sq mile park is an endless playground for anyone who ventures near. From bouldering, to exploring to photography, Joshua Tree has something for everyone. Being in a desert, they also have an endless supply of cacti. The park has done a nice job of establishing trails with short split rail fences for safely viewing the cactus. Call us rebels or just plain dumb, but we walked right past the designated trail and headed into the cactus garden on our own. I suppose if you live in a desert clime, you would know better, but we live in Alaska where the only cactus we see are in the Home Depot garden center.


Our first clue that this was a really bad idea was when a couple of the broken off pieces of the cholla embedded themselves in the sole of my daughter’s shoe. The sole made of rubber—thick rubber. And when I say embedded, I mean the barbed tip of the cholla drilling its way into the shoe with the determination of a bull at festival in Pamplona. My youngest daughter thought it would be fantastic to bring one of these broken off pieces home to show her class. We all said, “no way”. But grandpa caved to her innocence so with the “protection” of a napkin, he picked one up. Thirty minutes later with 2 pairs of tweezers working non stop, we had extracted the last of the Teddy Bear Cholla. 


Word to the wise, should you ever find yourself in a desert with chollas, for goodness sake, stay on the designated trail!


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