MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wildflowers And Rainbow Rocks


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How could people give such an awful name to this incredible place? Death Valley - this is where we spent the last days of our spring break. This is the answer: During the California gold rush, a group of pioneers decided, against the warning of their wagon master, to take a shortcut across an unknown desert of the West. Only one group member died in the valley, but as the party exited through Panamint Mountains, one man looked back and said, "Goodbye, Death Valley".

Early spring was a good time to visit Death Valley. It is the hottest and driest place in the United States. A temperature of 134 degrees F, the second-highest ever recorded in the world, was noted in 1913. Only the Sahara Desert in Libya has ever beaten that record - 136 degrees in 1922. The valley gets less than 2 inches (5 cm) of rain per year. Higher elevations are cooler than the low valley: temperatures drop 3 to 5 degrees with every 1,000 vertical feet. The highest peaks receive about 15 inches of rain annually. On average, Death Valley is the hottest place in the world. The hottest month is July, when an average temperature is 116 degrees F.

Surreal was the word which comes in mind when I look at these landscapes.


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While some rocks looked absolutely bare, others hosted plants which successfully adapted to the land of brutal heat.

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Wild flowers were starting to bloom when we were there - end of March, beginning of April. The peak of their bloom was expected to be a couple of weeks later. Nevertheless, I enjoyed those flowers which we saw.


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Most of them were yellow and purple. But, we also saw whitish-pink and red-orange blooms.


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Most of the plants that flower are desert annuals (ephemerals). Colors range from white and yellow to purple, blue, red and bright magenta.


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Some of the valley's plants and wildflowers are: desert star, blazing star, desert gold, mimulus, encelia, poppies, verbena, evening primrose, phacelia, cacti, desert paintbrush, mojave desert rue, lupine, joshua tree, panamint daisies.



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All together, there are over 1,000 plant species in Death Valley National Park, including 13 species of cactus and 23 endemics.


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In the picture below, there is a hint of how the valley could look when its flowers are in full bloom: do you see the ground getting covered by yellow?


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The flowers were not the only colorful thing in the valley.
Artist's Palette enchanted us with its fantastic rocks.


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We saw yellow, sea green, blue and salmon pink mineral deposits while driving on a one-way road which, at times, reminded us of a rollercoaster with its dives and turns.


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North America's lowest point is in Death Valley! It was exciting to be at sea level.


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But wait! In the next picture, do you see a white rectangular spot almost in the middle? That white sign, up there, marks sea level! We were much below it, on the salt flats.



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The Badwater Basin salt pan, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere!


It was cool to walk on the salt toward mountains with white snow peaks!
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One of our favorite places was Mosaic Canyon. It is considered to be a geologic wonder which is famous for its polished rocks.


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In 1837, borax deposits were discovered in the region. They used 20-mule team wagons to haul the processed mineral 165 miles across the desert to the railroad in Mojave.


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Credit: Death Valley. Your Complete Guide To The Parks.
Beautiful pictures of Death Valley wild flowers can be seen here: http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/ca_dv.html . This is one of the desertusa.com photos:


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Join Gail at clay and limestone for a Wildflower Wednesday.
My reports about two other sections of our 2010 spring break are here:
Aah... Enchanted Garden In Sin City, Are You Afraid Of Heights?, ...Nowhere Else On Earth

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

Monday, April 26, 2010

...Nowhere Else On Earth

Stunning and found nowhere else on earth - this is what I read about the scenery in
Utah's Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks where we spent part of our spring break in early April.
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The area is considered to be a geologic showplace with sandstone cliffs among the highest in the world. It has evidence of human occupation both historic and prehistoric.
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Unusual columns of rock, often in fantastic form, are called Hoodoos.
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One of the Bryce Canyon Guides includes this information about the Hoodoos creation:

"Aproximately 200 days a year, ice and snow melt during the day and refreeze at night. When water becomes ice, it not only gets harder, but expands to approximately 110% of its original volume! This exerts enormous pressure on the rocks, forcing them apart from inside the cracks. First, attacking the fractures created during uplift and faulting, the rock is chiseled into broken remains. Monsoon rains remove this debris, helping to reveal fins, the first step in hoodoo creation. Most commonly, the second step in hoodoo formation begins when frost-wedging cracks the fins, making holes we call windows. When windows collapse they create the rust painted pinnacles we call hoodoos. We often think of this process as hoodoo creation; when, in reality, it's just another step in water's endless process of destroying the rocks it began creating 55 Million years ago."
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Doesn't the rock in the next picture remind you of a certain part of the body?
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Horizontal lines on this photo are mesmerizing me:


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Want to fly? I do!


Somehow, the rocks below make me think about the Chinese Terracotta Army:



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"Claron Formation consists of two types of limestone rock. It has a lower pink member and an upper white member. In the early years of the basin, the environment appears to have been more marsh-like, where plant roots help oxidize iron to give the sediments a red color. ...With the passage of time and an increase in water depth, the basin transitioned into purer lakes where the less iron-rich white limestone was deposited."
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Vastness of space adds to excitement:


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To see a road down below and realize that you were riding there just a few minutes ago is always a thrill:

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Zion has about 800 native plant species. Differences in elevation, sunlight, water and temperature create microenvironments like hanging gardens, side canyons and isolated mesas that lend to this diversity.
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I love the color of these plants.

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Zion has 67 species of mammals, 207 birds, 35 reptiles and amphibians, & six native fish. Rare or endangered species include the peregrine falcon, Mexican spotted owl, California condor, desert tortoise, and Zion snail, found nowhere else on earth. The only animals we saw were these deers (they might be mule deers).
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Going through the rock:


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I love this scene. Tranquil ... No noise from the neighbors' lawn mowers...

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Am I on another planet?


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A landing place for a spaceship?


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Morning in Zion National Park after a snowy night:

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Isn't it a spectacular scene? Clouds are touching the rocks' tops, trees' silhouettes on the blue background and a black shadow is getting replaced by light:


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This one, below, is one of my favorite images. Early morning. Fresh powder on the top of the rocks which is going to disappear soon under the rays of the rising sun:


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I could spent hours watching this scenery where the permanance of a rock meets the dynamic of constantly changing water:

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A play of light and shadows was spectacular on such a large scale:

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Springdale, Utah was a little delightful town which charmed me.


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I hope you liked the tour.

Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

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