Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Wide Open Road

Sometimes life is just about taking to the road and seeing where the road will take you.  The desert road trip can be different in many ways.  Sometimes the paved road gives way to the dirt road. And the dirt road takes you off the beaten path.  There is always something special about hitting the road in the desert.

During the spring in the Mojave you just might find the greatest of all yucca, the Joshua Tree in bloom. The long stocks of off white flowers reach toward the sky. At night the yucca moths pollinate the yucca flower enabling the plant to fruit.

The off beaten path may lead you to bizarre rock formations such as this one in the Mojave. Colors of red, orange hues contrast against the chocolate brown mountains in the distance.

In the Autumn you may find yourself looking at the changing colors of groves of trees preparing for the long winter against the high mountain peaks of the Rockies that form the boundaries of the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and Chihuahuan Deserts.

If you are passing through Las Vegas you may see a grand Saguaro cactus out of its native environment in southern Arizona and planted in someone's front yard.

If you happen to be in southern Utah just outside of Kanab you may see the Coral Pink Sand Dunes and the State Park with the same name. These dunes are formed from the colorful Navajo sandstone that is the predominant rock of the area. These dunes are famous for their beauty and for their appeal to the off road vehicle enthusiast.

Or you just may be stopping over at an outpost somewhere along a state line such as this little area called Border which sits in both Utah and Nevada along US 6 between Delta, Utah to the west and Ely, Nevada to the east.  Wherever the road takes you may you have a new adventure each time and enjoy what is around you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

crazy new growth on my yucca thompsonia

Check this out, this double headed yucca was relatively cheap because only one "head" appeared alive. However, over the past few weeks, I noticed the side with no "head" started growing one on its side. So I guess it's alive after all!  I was pretty excited about that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eight Killed In Mojave Desert Race

Off road activities are one of the great recreations our public lands offer to us. Land speed records have been set at the Bonneville Speedway in Utah.

The vast expanses of the Mojave Desert are no exception for the outdoor enthusiast. On Saturday, August 14, 2010 8 people were killed and others injured in an off road race called the "California 200." It is a sad occurrence in desert racing.

The cause of the incident is still under investigation, but it still is good to be aware of the human wildlife in the deserts be they off road vehicles used by individuals or small groups, dirt bikes, or large vehicle organized events such as last Saturday's tragic race.

Accidents will always be a part of the off road world. We can only hope to minimize tragedies such as this one. Overreaction never has benefited anyone. We has humans learn from our mistakes and move on.

In Utah during the 1980s there was a motorcycle competition called the "Widow Maker" just south of Salt Lake City in Draper.  Authorities stopped it in the early 1990s because it was too dangerous.  It has since been revived and the risks are taken by the riders that took place in the earlier version. We should never take the extremist point of view and say no more without real due cause.

The show must go on and most of the time nobody gets hurt when the right precautions are taken. Lets hope that the California 200 makes the necessary adjustments in regards to spectators being a safe distance from the course and track modifications and barriers done where necessary. Long live the outdoor sports of the timeless desert.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Never Allow Dave and Kirk On A Road Trip

When Kirk and I go on road trips we can be hazardous to the public.  Kirk is more mellow and reserved. I am just whacked out. Put us together and we are hell on caffeine.  Kirk is a nice guy and then I come around and he becomes a different creature from those who claim to know him as the nice guy at the government.  Kirk showed me this palm at Wal-Mart. This is a needle palm. Found it for $20.  It now sits in my yard. Thanks buddy. It was his passive aggressive behavior that led me to by this one.

This next photo I could not bring over so I linked to it. When we stopped in Green River, Utah we caught this dude filling up his plane at a gas station.  He said he was from Eagle Mountain, Utah. What ever floats your boat.

To the left is the Gieco Gecko or something like that. Kirk had to get a shot of this lizard while I wanted to run naked through the brush of the Book Cliffs.  Of course with not willing to put up with my antics Kirk took this photo and threatened to leave me behind. Fine, whatever dude!

Kirk always wanted his photo taken somewhere cool. When we were at Antelope Island in Utah we went into this old ranch house. Kirk thought that he would look bitchin next to this old phonograph. Now I admit this is not exactly a desert photo at first glance.  But it was taken inside an old shack in the desert so don't give me any grief. Note the camouflage fatigues don't go with the coat.

Now some people do not believe that me and Kirk are actually environmentally friendly. This is not true. It is true that I like fossil fuels burning amass producing electricity.  Kirk, I am not sure what he actually likes to see mechanical wise, but I digress.  In this link you can see us actually hugging a tree. It is a beautiful trunk isn't it. The dude couldn't get his damn finger out of the way ruining the true effect. I tried to get Kirk to hug me, but he declined. No sense of humor!

This again is at Antelope Island. Notice the green bog in
to the right. This bog was still nice and green well into November 2009. Now if you don't think that we don't just stumble across the most beautiful places on earth then you have no sense of imagination and you don't know Kirk and Yours Truly.  We both agreed that a swim in the bog was not on the adventure agenda for the day.

The Mojave Desert brings the best out in both of us. On this trip we were in Moapa, Nevada in an area known as Warm Springs.  Kirk thought that road trip means taking a picture of the road.  Ansel Adams he is not, but I have to give him credit for actually capturing some palms on either side of the road.

This lovely rock formation is at the Garden of the Gods outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Kirk had us hiking all over this place. He took a while finding it too. Nonetheless I got this lovely photo.  Kirk insisted that blistered our feet were we hike on.  I screamed abuse, but nobody listened. His girls just laughed at me and my teenage son refused to admit he had a father.

Finally, to end this lovely entry when I went out to Colorado last year Kirk showed us Cherry Hill State Park which is an earlier entry in this blog of ours.  But I thought it fitting to let you all know that the place is full of plains yucca.  Plains yucca go from the Front Range of the Rockies east to the boring land of the Midwest US.  At least there is something that is yucca in this post.  Had I not lost my photos of Bennett, Colorado I would have included them, but my computer crashed and the Garden of the Gods one was one of the few that I had left.

Now I wish I had more time to give you the lowdown on the odd couple relationship that Kirk and I have on road trips.  On one trip back from St. George, Utah a thunderstorm came in around Beaver, Utah. I screamed "Run for your life! Hurricane! Its the Apocalypse!" One mother and her kids got the hell out of there, Kirk nearly fainted, and I am not sure what came over me, but I am sure it was the adrenalin rush of caffeine.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Snow Canyon State Park in southwestern Utah is one of my favorite haunts. This may be one of  the great desert state parks around.  Snow Canyon sits on the intersection of where the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and Mojave Desert all meet.  You get an ecosystem here that blends all three deserts into one habitat.

The Park is part of a geologic oddity with volcanic activity that is only a few thousand years old, Navajo Sandstone cliffs and folds, lava fields, lava boulders, extinct shield volcanoes and dunes. The picture above is of a petrified dune.  If you look at the plants in the picture you can see Teddy Bear Cholla growing alongside juniper trees, sagebrush, and mesquite.

These large boulders are part of an older volcanic field. The orange, brown and reddish hues blend together with the with the blue green shrubbery to make the views interesting at each stop.
This is a shield volcano cone that is extinct. Try hiking the thing. It will give you a good workout to reach the almost straight up summit.

My final shot is one of my favorite that I have ever taken. It shows the contortions of the cliffs, the color of the area.  In the foreground you can see the remains of a broken up lava flow. It would have been cool to be here when the area was more geologically active.  Who knows, I might get my wish sometime.

Cactus Ring

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