Friday, April 8, 2011

California Desert Wildflower Tour

I love the desert in bloom and have long wanted to visit Death Valley when it was awash in blossoms. You can never predict exactly when it will be a good year or when the flowers will peak, but last winter’s flooding in southern California made us decide that this would be a good year to take a chance on it.

We think we did pretty well!

In the Air (March 26, 2011)
Into the Mojave

We have the Park mostly to Ourselves (Joshua Tree, March 27, 2011)
Discovering Hidden Valley
A Tree Blooms at Jumbo Rocks
In Search of Wildflowers
Indian Cove
The Good Life at Spin and Margie's

Barker Dam Reflections (Joshua Tree, March 28, 2011)
Joshua Blossoms
Wind Power
View from the Palm Springs Visitor's Center
A Bit of Downtown Palm Springs
Evening Entertainment

(March 29, 2011)

Spring in Tahquitz Canyon (March 30, 2011)
Disappointment at Big Morongo

The Natural Side of Coachella (March 31, 2011)
A Cacti Extravaganza
Looking into the Devil's Punchbowl

(April 1, 2011)

Antelope Valley, Sans Poppies
(April 2, 2011)

Night Lights and Dancing Waters (Las Vegas, April 5, 2011)

Las Vegas Sunrise (April 6, 2011)

The Details

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Night Lights (and Dancing Water)

I drag Lane along a couple of blocks of the strip for a few hours (the blocks here are long), although some of that is spent watching the water show at the Bellagio (we stay for two versions).

There is a lot of over-the-top lighting here, most of which changes color, sometimes making it hard to decide which version I like best.

We do not go into a single casino, except when necessary to cross a street.

Sorry, all you Vegas fans, but while the photography opportunities are kind of interesting, I don’t like it here. It feels fake and sad, both the glamor and action seem tired and forced – a place where too many people are trying too hard to lose themselves in a hollow fantasy.

Next post: Las Vegas Sunrise

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Antelope Valley, Sans Poppies

So our first mistake yesterday was NOT deciding to visit the mining towns instead of eating breakfast in California City. No, it was the earlier decision to go to the Desert Tortoise Reserve and Red Rock Canyon instead of Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in the first place.

There were lots of valid reasons for making that decision from the purely greedy (the poppies are late and another hot sunny day will mean there will be a few more open when I get there) to the practical and mundane (it seemed safer to leave our car with all our stuff in it at the Poppy Reserve instead of at the more isolated tortoise reserve and canyon), but as it turned out, the tortoise reserve would have been perfectly safe and with no trail maps at Red Rock we never got much out of sight of the car. So, in the end, they were dumb reasons – especially since the weather has now changed and is cold, cloudy, and windy. . . meaning there will not be any poppies at all today.

Poppies close up and hide when it is cold and windy.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

I COULD have come back here yesterday and there would have been tons of sunshine and lots of poppies (although the woman at the gate tells us they are still pretty spotty and probably two weeks from their peak), but no: I figured the hot sunny weather we were having would continue on indefinitely. What an idiot.

So here we are.

It’s still a pretty place, with lots of other things (that aren’t as picky about the weather) blooming, including owl clover, which we haven’t seen before.

It isn't a complete loss, but still. . .

Next post: On the Road North