Saturday in Las Vegas! All the glitter, all the tinsel, the bright lights, the razzle-dazzle.
We skipped all that in favor of chocolates and cacti, at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden.
Ever since Nick Russell wrote about this tour in his Candy and Cacti blog last March, we have wanted to see the place, and this was our opportunity. After all, we live in cactus country, and we certainly do want our share of the world's chocolate!
Ethel M is the name of the fine chocolates made by Mars, Incorporated, the same folks that make Snickers, Mars, Milky Way and especially M&Ms. The Ethel M factory tour is open seven days a week; unfortunately, the plant is shut down on weekends, so we didn't see candymakers in action.
These folks, however, were packing Dove candies while we were there, but we had to look through a maze of metal racks to see them.
The cactus garden covers three acres, with "over 350 rare and exotic species ... thoughtfully arranged throughout this spectacular arid landscape" (their words). Some of the "rare and exotic species" were pretty familiar to us, but we enjoyed seeing them so "thoughtfully placed" in the "spectacular arid landscape."
One of the first things we saw was this planting of lantana, which we are planning to scatter about our lot this coming season. It blooms nearly forever in bright yellows, reds, and purples, and grows very well in our area.
On this particular flower there sat this little fellow which looks to us like some kind of dragonfly.
His cousin was over here on this agave.
Another couple touring the garden offered to take our picture sitting under this Twisted Acacia tree. The sign commented that the Nevada Department of Forestry certified this as the largest tree of its species in the State of Nevada. Pretty impressive.
They also took this nice picture of us taking a breather.
We'll show you some of the things we saw here, and if you want to see more, you ae invited to tour our web album, 2010 Chocolates and Cacti.
We particularly liked the Golden Barrel cacti -- we have three of them in our yard in Benson.
Suzy wondered if the little fellow in front had been disobedient and was forced to stay out of the group!
We were really impressed with the boulders they used throughout the gardens.
This was labeled a "dwarf Joshua Tree."
Now, to finish the tour, we were invited to visit their tasting and sales room (we tasted a couple of candies, then bought some cups of ice cream for a treat). The next stop was their gift shop, where M&Ms of all sizes, shapes, colors and varieties were offered, as well as toys and dispensers.
It was hard to decide!
This one says to wash it thoroughly first! Inside or out?
Our new companion during ... Our Life on Wheels.