I've finally identified this for sure as a Brittlebush. They're nearly as common as creosote bushes here around Havasu.
Brittlebush is a medium-sized rounded shrub. It has long, oval, silver-gray leaves that are somewhat fuzzy. The branches are brittle and woody, and contain a fragrant resin. In the late winter and early spring small yellow flowers form on long stalks well above the leafy stems.
It is found throughout the Sonoran Desert and in the warmer areas of the Mojave Desert. It also can be found growing in the coastal chaparral and interior valleys of southern California.
Brittlebush is found throughout the Sonoran Desert and in the warmer areas of the Mojave Desert. It can live as long as 20 years.
This is another very common plant here and I'm not sure what it is yet.
[ 27Feb12 note: as it turns out the orange stuff is actually a parasitic plant, similar to mistletoe called dodder or cuscuta. You can read more about it at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuscuta
After it rained the other day I ran across this flower on a creosote bush. It was the first time I'd seen a flower on a creosote bush.