Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Critters, Kids, and Coconuts!

Critters, kids and coconuts!!  My trip down to Southern Brazil last December was a blast.  The racoon critters are called coatis, and they are everywhere in the Iguacu area. My  daughter Izabella loved to chase those critters around. They would literally jump onto you. One grabbed some snacks out of my hand, and another grabbed something out of my backpack!   Also, there are numerous coconuts on the beach.  However, what is interesting is that although these coconuts thrive here, they are at the very extreme southern tip of where coconuts are native.  (The coconuts pictured here are in Itapema, Brazil.) The 2nd map below indicates the native range of coconuts,  The first map on top shows some of the cities near Itapema.  Itapema is about halfway between Florinopolis and Curitiba, which are listed on the map. Itapema itself is actually not mentioned on the map.   The rest of the pictures are from Balneario Camboriu  and the Curitiba, Brazil area.  The funky pine tree with its branches pushing upward is a special type of pine only found in the Curitiba, Brazil area.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

The Bonneville Salt Flats are located in western, Utah near Wendover.  The Salt Flats are left over from ancient Lake Bonneville which covered much of the eastern Great Basin.  As Lake Bonneville receded the minerals, such as salt settled to the bottom.  This area is one such deposits.  The Salt Flats are so compact that they can be driven on.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are home to some of the world's great land speed records. Every year many speed enthusiasts gather to drive their high octane vehicles on this wonder of nature.  Speeds of over 400 MPH have been done here.

I enjoy taking my old Honda out on the flats.  I have buried the needle at 110 and maxed it out. Breaking was relatively easy due to the texture of the land.  Truly a desert wonder if you get a chance take your own car, truck or whatever out on the flats.  It is well worth the memories.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mill Site State Park, Utah

In south central Utah on the edge of the Colorado Plateau is one of Utah's lesser known state parks.  Millsite State Park is located about 50 miles southeast of Price, Utah.  Located in Emery County the park has spectacular views, ancient petroglyphs, and many mesas, canyons, cliffs, and of course Harriman's Yucca.

The park also has a golf course that would challenge any desert golfer out there. Centered around Millsite Reservoir there is plenty of fishing and boating going on during the high season.

Looking toward the northeast you can see the reservoir in plain view alongside the cliffs. These cliffs form the eastern edge of the Wasatch Plateau in central Utah.

Looking across the reservoir you can see mesas and buttes that are characteristic of the San Rafael Area of the Colorado Plateau.

The setting sun to the west casts a shadow across the Millsite Reservoir and the cliffs of the San Rafael.

A closer view shows that the area has a very high uplift. The entire area sits on a base of about 5,500 feet above sea levels. All seasons are dry with winters being cold and summers being hot and dry on a typical year.

Ferron Creek feeds the reservoir, which in turn serves the water needs of Emery County, Utah's communities of Castle Dale, Ferron, Emery, Elmo, and Clawson among others.

And finally there is the lovely golf course. Like some other desert lovers, I am not against golf courses. I think they add an element of green oasis type environment plus they add to the recreation. Not everyone likes to fish, hike, camp, and take pictures. So here's to the golfers!

Deserts are truly capable of producing many types of fun. Enjoy them and take good care of them.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome to Wildfire Season!

It is the time of year again where the grasses dry out and die and the shrubbery become less green.

Please don't start wildfires. But if you see one. They are cool to photograph. This one happened in the summer of 2009 near Scipio, Utah.  It was up the mountain quite a way, but boy it was fun to observe.

These fires get going and they have a life of their own. They make their own weather and make one smell like a large bonfire.

Be smart this fire season and don't start a fire or get burned by one.  That said they still make a great photo.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cherry Creek State Park

Cherry Creek State Park.   It's just a few miles away from me. Most people enjoy the boating and biking.  I really enjoy looking at all the cacti and yuccas!  Me and my girls went hiking there yesterday and today. We ran into some coyotes "play fighting."  They almost ran into us.  We also saw deer, prairie dogs, a large hawk. A neat place to view wildlife as well.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Off of Interstate 15 in the middle of the Mojave Desert is the Valley of Fire State Park. This Park is one of the many beautiful place that can be found in the Mojave Desert. One of the Park's main attractions are its various odd rock formations.
Unlike other areas of the Mojave where the predominant colors are brown based, Valley of Fire has very reddish hues, and thus the name.

Many years ago the ancestors of are now known as the Paiute and Moapa Indian tribes lived in canyons and among the formations. Various types of animals that lived here can be seen in the petroglyphs that line various rock faces in the Park. Also the petroglyphs served as a "road map" and "learning center" for the people that lived there. Clearly recognizable animals and plants mix with designs and almost writing type symbolism.

Some people believe that the ancient Indian inhabitants made these pictures in rock faces for art or ceremonious purposes.  I think they were more informational that ceremonial. They appear in high easy to see places that would have told the "reader" important information he or she needed to know about hunting, gathering, agriculture, direction, and possibly safety from any aggressive neighbors in the area.

Among the various areas of the Park to explore are what are called "slot canyons." These canyons are made by flash flooding, wind, and other natural forces of erosion. Outlaws of the area were noted for using the slot canyons just as the ancient peoples did, to hide from the law and provide a safe haven until the heat was off.

If you need a temporary place to cool down the Park is full of these crevices in the canyon walls. They are really great places in order to hide or if deep enough explore. Just use caution as there are potentials for flash floods and falling rock.
The way that the light plays off of the rock formations can create some interesting photo opportunities.
Some formations are actually petrified sand dunes that make great areas to hike on. Just be careful. What appears smooth may not be so much.

The orange fire color for which the Park gets its name. Someone has left their mark. Vandalism now and in 1000 years protected artifact go figure. Maybe aliens were here?
This rock formation shows the continued variety of shapes the stone takes in the Park.

A balancing rock. How long will this particular boulder be able to hold on?

The plants of the Mojave help add to the beauty of the park. They compliment these rock formations and represent many of the flora and fauna of the park. Many differing types of mesquite, cacti, yucca, and shrubbery add variety to the biodiversity of the park.
When you get a chance go and see Valley of Fire State Park on a Las Vegas Trip. You may just save some money and see some better attractions than some of the characters that hand out pamphlets on The Strip.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fathers Day: Give Dad A Yucca

Tired of giving dad that stupid old tie or a new set of screwdrivers this Fathers Day?  Give a gift that keeps on giving. Give dad a yucca. They come in all shapes and sizes.  Yucca typically are recognizable by their long sword like fibrous leaves that come to a point.

Some species are soft like Adam's Needle while others are very painful if not treated with care such as Yucca Bacata.  Most yucca shoot up a stalk in the spring or summer with milky white to off white flowers.  Some yucca grow in colonies or clumps while others are more solitary and have a trunk.

Some do well in humid wet climates, but most prefer dry well drained soils with minimal watering. Many are cold hardy and will stay some degree of green all year around, though most growth occurs during the standard growing season of the area.

So give dad something that will poke him and keep him on the straight and narrow. Give the gift of a yucca. Happy Fathers Day!

Desert Landscaping and Water

One of my favorite things about desert landscaping happens to be the use of water. It is the beauty of man's ability to create an "oasis" in the middle of a city or suburbia, especially if it is located in a desert setting.

Creativity is key in my mind when thinking about what I would like to see in a desert. What makes it bloom? Water the giver of all life. This fountain is from Sun Valley, Idaho at the top of the Snake River Plain in the

This man made beauty graces the Casa Blanca in Mesquite, Nevada. The waterfall has a realistic feel to it and is one of the better ones that I have seen in a Mojave Desert community.

Again, this is from the Casa Blanca. I also find fountains amazing. Water can be an art form as well.

Salt Lake City, Utah sits at the western slope of the Rocky Mountains Wasatch Range and the eastern Great Basin.  This reflecting pool at Temple Square in Salt Lake is a beautiful use of water use in landscaping.
Of course nothing beats the real thing. This is Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon about 6 miles from Provo, Utah in the Wasatch Range.

Nothing beats a good night shot of an illuminated waterfall. This one is located in Mesquite, Nevada.

This has got to be one of my favorites. It combines a wetlands look surrounded by desert plants. This one is in Ivins, Utah in the southwest of the state.

You may have noticed this one at the top of the blog page. This is a night shot of a fountain at the Mormon Temple in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is one of my favorites as you can see the lights of Las Vegas behind the beautiful blue lit fountain.

The use of water makes desert landscaping fun and interesting. Now if I could just afford some of the infrastructure that it takes to put up something like this in my yard? Deserts seen in a whole new light of water so to speak.

Cactus Ring

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