Saturday, November 17, 2012

Photo Essay: Cactus Lights

When I drove out to Vegas for a couple of nights this week, I wasn't looking for Christmas. But in my travels across the desert, I stumbled upon it.



Of course one of the main draws of Vegas for me is the lights, but normally I find them in the form of the city's neon signs, or perhaps its classic pinball machines.



I was looking for some more offbeat touristy things to do during my second solo visit to Vegas, so I left and headed east for the suburb of Henderson, where visitors can tour the Ethel M Chocolate Factory. I watched them drizzle chocolate-covered apples from behind a glass window. I witnessed the demolding of the finished chocolates. It wasn't that interesting.



But outside the factory, there is a cactus garden ripe for ambling during the day, and lit up like a Christmas tree at this time of year at night.



I returned that night.



"You could just come here even without the kids..." I heard one of the visitors say. They were all marveling at the display. I snickered.



Indeed, what Ethel M's calls "Cactus Lights" brings together two of my favorite things: Christmas and the desert, a delicious combination.



Amidst the gingerbread men...



...and lollipops...



...and birds and deer...



...some turning their heads or leaning down...



...there is nearly every variety of cactus and succulent:



...aloe...



...red barrel cactus...



...joshua tree...



...ocotillo...



...yucca...





...and rabbit-ear and beavertail cactus...



...making even the prickliest, spiniest plant a welcoming, softly lit attraction.



It wasn't very cold out...



...but it felt like Christmas.



Even amongst the menacing cholla...



...whose cylindrical stems are ready to spawn tiny spiny death balls...



...trained to leap out and grab you...



...and never let go.



I wish I could walk around that garden all night, every night, all year long.

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A First Time for Everything

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