I recently headed over to Joshua Tree, hoping to catch some stars or some snow. Neither of my hopes came true. The sky stayed overcast the whole evening, and the ground dry. And it was perfect and still and I loved every minute.
Cholla cacti have wood skeletons. After they die and the water evaporates, after the skin falls off and the desert critters move in - they leave behind some wood. I never connected the plants as alive to how they were when dead.
The Beavertail Prickly-Pear Cactus (Opuntia basilaris) is a mainstay in Joshua Tree and much of the rest of the Mojave. Learn about it here!