Friday, May 22, 2009

Sub-Tropics to Mars and back

I'm baaack ... at least for awhile! Been battling some computer problems but at least it's up & running (more like limping) for now.

When my computer blew up, I began to panic about not being able to blog about anything on my mind. But the days slowly crept by and now I find I'm too disgusted with politics to blog about that. Every time I turn on the TV I see Elizabeth Edwards reminding me why I was a fool to believe in her husband, or Dickhead Cheney being a dickhead, or the congressional dems compromising (don't elections have consequences any more?), or Obama being Obama!

Besides, I've been wanting to post some photos of a fun little camping trip to Mars we took a few weeks ago, so this will be a good test post. If the computer dies on me again, it may be awhile before I can get back online, so here goes ...

The title of this post is a bit misleading. I don't live anywhere near the Tropics (sub or otherwise). Just the opposite, in fact. But during the brief spring interlude between frigid winter and broiling hot arid summer, something wonderful happens ... the desert blooms! Here are a couple pics around my yard just before we left on our camping trip to Mars ... Yellow Lady Bank's Rose vine and Purple Robed Locust tree:

Click on any pic to enlarge.

Our camping trip was actually not to Mars, but to The Valley of Fire in Southern Nevada, although the difference might not seem that great. Warning: don't attempt to camp there in the summer months! It isn't called Valley of Fire for nothing! The week we were there the temps were pushing 90, but it was overcast, so not too bad. Nights were windy & chilly. It can be 120 on summer days!

Valley of Fire contains brilliant formations of eroded red sandstone more than 150 million years old. As you'll see in my photos, these features often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun's rays. The sandstone formations were originally huge shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs and subsequently shaped by complex uplifting and faulting of the region, followed by extensive erosion. I don't pretend to understand the geology, so I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. Don't worry, I'll only post a few!

Descending into The Valley of Fire:

Approaching from the rear, do you see the tall thin-headed elephant?

How about the little chubby-trunked elephant with ears flat against his head?
Wouldn't those rock elephants be a fun accurate representation of the repub party? Old, dry and worn out!

Just a pock-marked cliff face or scrapings from John McCain's sunburnt jowls? Lots of bats live in the cliff face. What lives in McCain's jowls?
Our camp site will give you a perspective of the size of these rock formations:

Odd Shapes: an alien or a ninja turtle?

Interesting beehive formation:

Arches are always fun! This one is pretty typical of the Southwest:

Of course we made the obligatory hike to Mouse's Tank (a natural desert rainwater collector forming a cistern or pond). It's a short trek with lots of petroglyphs along the way...

Dancing with Pop Tarts?

many Big Horn Sheep to see if you click to enlarge!

This whole wall is covered with petroglyphs (worth enlarging, but don't be expecting any porn). The Native Americans etched them hundreds to thousands of years ago. They obviously liked the black patina canvas:

Now for Mouse's Tank itself. Heaven help the desperate bastard who had to survive on this yucky water! It's a 50-ft drop straight down to the slimy scummy pond. Mouse would've had to devise the world's longest straw or rapel down there, swatting away bees and scorpions and who-knows-what-other biting stinging creatures that patronize the rare and precious water:

OK, now that you've seen a bit of Mars, or Mars as it might have been before it died, here are the "tropical" blooms we came home to (tropical in comparison to Mars):

Desert Bird-of-Paradise and Red Oleander ... both are pretty, but very poisonous!

Hope you enjoyed a little flavor of our trip to Mars and back!


Annette said...

The desert has its own beauty. I love how it blooms in the spring, and after every rain. It is always so very pretty. The rocks, the formations, the caves, the drawings. All unique, all a beauty of their own.

Cart said...

Brilliant pics. You make the place look inviting!

D.K. Raed said...

You nailed the "after every rain" aspect! Sadly it rains so rarely, but when it does, the plants really respond. If we get our normal summer monsoon effect (around July), all our sage will burst forth with heavy purple blooms.

I always tell non-desert people living here is like naked nature, the very core, an x-ray of the bare bones, or, what's underneath all that luxurious green growth seen in other locales.

The reflection of the setting sun on those red sandstone formations are amazing. Glad you liked! Spring and Fall are very inviting -- a bikecycling and motorcyling treat.

D.K. Raed said...

I think something's still messed up with my computer. Last night I turned it off as usual before I went to bed. But this morning it was back on ALL BY ITSELF! WTH? Computer Gremlins?

And I had made a few corrections to this blog post, mainly in the links, which were fine last night ... but this morning the post had reverted to its pre-corrected state. I'm really flummoxed by that!

Fran said...

It sounds like an Exorcism of your computer is necessary.

The pics are beautiful. I heart the SW... used to live in Arizona.... it is a very unique ecosystem.
But then I came up to the Pacific NW & felt like I had stepped into a beautiful Sierra Club calender photo!

I love it all.... the canyonlands are quite nice & I wish I could get back to visit there.

Maybe the computer failed to *save* the changes, and sometimes my computer will ask * Are you SURE you want to turn off the computer*?
No, I clicked quit because I want to continue.

D.K. Raed said...

Wouldn't surprise me at all to find my dang computer is haunted! I'm positive it was totally off last night, yet it was back on by itself this AM. Weird-o-rama!

I have very fond memories of my time in the Pacific NW, especially how lush & green everything is! It seemed like another planet to this hardened desert rat. Nature all decked out in its finest leafy clothes, everything so soft on the eyes!

Spadoman said...

Stunning photos. Hope to be traveling through Southern Utah's National Parks in July with the Grand kids with a visit to the North Rim on our way West. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and beyond.