Joshua Tree National Park, California – July 2022 – Amazing Desert Landscape

In the southwest United States there is a variation of a yucca known as a Joshua Tree. It was named that by some Mormon settlers in the 1800s.

The Joshua Tree National Park covers a vast area of Southern California. The parts of the park at a lower elevation are in the Sonoran Desert, while those where the Joshua Trees are located at a higher elevation are in the Mojave Desert.

In addition to the tree there are many interesting rock formations throughout the park. A combination of volcanic activity, seismic activity and erosion has lead to some great shapes.

Some have eroded to look like faces and skulls in the rocks.

Climbing around on the rocks is a favorite activity – even in a vampire cape.

From Keys View you can see all of the Coachella Valley, from Salton Sea at -230 elevation to 10,800′ San Jacinto Peak. The view below is looking back towards Palm Springs.

The southern portion of the park is in the lower elevation Sonoran Desert. It features an area known as the Cholla Cactus Garden – an area with more chollas than I have ever seen in such a small space.

Joshua Tree National Park is a unique natural setting well worth the trip.

Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah – May 2022 – What a Butte

Easily one of the most recognizable locales in the Southwest, Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Nation. The Tribal Park offers the opportunity to tour the valley via a 17 mile dirt and gravel road.

It is interesting to note that unlike a national park, people live in the valley, so you will see farms and homes scattered about.

Mescal, Arizona – May 2022 – Old West Movie Studio

For many decades when Hollywood wanted to make a Western movie, they came to Arizona, with Tucson alone having over 1500 location credits on IMDB.

About 40 miles east of downtown Tucson is a small dusty town of Mescal. Just north of town, with a perfect backdrop of the Rincon Mountains, is the Mescal Movie Studio.

Originally built in 1968 for the movie Monte Walsh, it was one of the settings for a number of famous movies including Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, as well as many TV shows including Little House on the Prairie.

Over the years it had fallen into disrepair, until recently when a local family purchased it and began restoring it. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday they are open for tours, which include volunteer actors.

Our docent lead us on a very informative 1 hour tour. While not a fan of western movies in general, the tour, and the history of the place makes this a great stop – far better than the tacky touristy setting of the actual town of Tombstone.

One of the clock faces from the movie The Quick and the Dead – a key to the movie’s plot.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona – April 2022 – Sonoran Desert Specialty

The Organ Pipe Cactus is very different from the more prevalent Saguaro in that rather than 1 large trunk with arms growing off of it, the Organ Pipe cactus has numerous small ones, making it somewhat bushy, resembling the pipes of an Organ (hence the name)

It is very rare in the United States, with the national monument just north of the Mexican border being the predominant one.

In addition to the Organ Pipe Cactus and the Saguaro, the park has many other examples of desert flora.

The Painted Desert – April 2022 – Colorful Badlands

The Painted Desert is a result of siltstone, mudstone and shale containing iron and manganese compounds, that erode easily. The result is a very colorful landscape, void of vegation.

While the Painted Desert goes for about 100 miles north of the Petrified Forest National Park, you get plenty of examples within the park itself.

Petrified Forest National Park – April 2022 – A Gem in the Desert

A petrified forest is created when fallen trees are washed into a space and then buried under layers of mud, ash and other materials, depriving the oxygen required for rot. Over millions of years the wood’s cellular structure form into a stone like material.

Generally considered the world’s best example, the Petrified Forest National Park is in northern Arizona, situated in the Painted Desert (next posting).

The setting and colors of the Petrified Forest is amazing. Most look just like wood, some even appear to have been cut with a saw.

Virtual Travel – Nevada

 

Nevada: Latest updates on Coronavirus | Live Science

 

Unusual State Symbol of the Day.

Official State Locomotive of Nevada – Engine #40 of the Nevada Northern Railway. (photo from Flickr/State Symbols).

 

Deserts

1946     1958     1961     1970     1979

 

Nearly the entire state of Nevada is in desert, offering numerous interesting landscapes.

All photos from Internet sources

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Considering a New State? Try Balmy Nevada | Investor Square ...

Nevada für Naturfreunde      The Road Trips That Will Move Nevada to the Top of Your List ...

 

This satellite view of Las Vegas illustrates the vastness of the desert.

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Lake Tahoe

1952     1960     1975     2009     2013

 

One of the more beautiful places in the United States is Lake Tahoe, on the California/Nevada border.

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Situated high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains the area is a ski destination (photo from Freestock photos)

Skiing Down the Slopes of Lake Tahoe image - Free stock photo ...

 

 

 

Uniquely Nevada

1953     1972     2017

 

Without a doubt Nevada has their fair share of unique places.

 

Hoover Dam – Completed in 1935, this dam cost over 100 workers their lives, but has provided the water and power that has allowed the massive expansion of population in Nevada, Arizona and California.

Over 3 million cubic yards of concrete was used in the dam, with another million yards used in the power plant. This is enough concrete to build a 2 lane road from San Francisco to New York.

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Since we visit 15 years ago they have completed the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, routing all the non tourist traffic directly across the canyon. (photo from Wikipedia).

The bridge is silhouetted against the sky with the Colorado river far below

 

 

Las Vegas – Love it or hate it there is no other place like it.

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Area 51 – Long rumored to be a site where the U.S. Government has made contacts with Alients, Area 51 is a secret Air Force base. It has a strong following of ‘believers’

Extraterrestrial Highway (Rachel) - 2020 All You Need to Know ...

Are you brave enough to drive Nevada's Extraterrestrial Highway ...

Driving the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada: What You Need to Know

 

 

Burning Man is a massive event that occurs annual in the northwest Nevada desert.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement: Black Rock City's Future ...

Burning Man' Festival Hoping to Go Virtual—And We're Not Sure What ...

I.L.Y. - Burning Man 2019 by Lindsay Schaefer — Kickstarter

 

 

Nevada State Capitol – Carson City

This quaint building is the Nevada State Capitol. It was built from sandstone obtained from the Nevada State Prison.

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Cowboys in the Desert

1965     1968     1985     1987

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A number of ranches in Nevada cater to the tourist trade.

Jersey Valley Cattle Company, Nevada - COWBOY SHOWCASE

 

 

Outdoors in Nevada

1995     2000     2002     2005     2007     2011

 

There are a number of beautiful state parks in Nevada (photos from Wikipedia).

Panaca Formations In Cathedral Gorge State Park Nevada Greeting ...

 

 

Valley of Fire State Park

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Fire Wave Valley of Fire | Earth Trekkers

 

 

Ward Charcoal Oven State Historic Park

Ward Charcoal Oven State Historic Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Leona, Argentina – January 2020 – Three for the Price of One

In our travels across North America we have visited the Badlands in South Dakota, seen fossils in Arizona, and dinosaur bones in Colorado. In Southern Patagonia we had the chance to do this all in one place, La Leona.

And because it happens to be on a 30,000 acre ranch owned by one person, it is very restricted as to who can go there. We arranged a tour through one of the agencies in El Calafate, and were very pleased the next morning to see a mini van come to pick us up. Our group had 7 people, a driver and the guide!

The area is about 1.5 hours north of El Calafate – the scenery was fantastic along the way.











After a long drive up a bumpy dirt road, we got out and took off through the badlands.









It wasn’t long before we came upon the first dinosaur bone. They have been removing nearly full dinosaur skeletons from here for more than 20 years, so what is left are the ‘scraps’.

Still very impressive, they welcome you to touch them, hold them, and examine them – just leave them. They even gave us instructions on how to tell bone from rock – lick them. Or rather, lick your finger and press it against the object. If it sticks it is bone, otherwise it is rock.













There is even interesting vegetation throughout.





Our hike through the badlands continued with our guide Roci, until we reached the ‘petrified forest’. Roci was very knowledgeable and gave an excellent overview of what we were seeing, and how it got to be that way.





It is amazing how heavy small fragments of the petrified wood weighs.





We spent about 3 hours wandering around the badlands, finding plenty of petrified wood, and the occasional dinosaur bone.

What an amazing place, and fantastic day. To be able to see and touch these wonders of nature was great – and with such a small group at that.







































































Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina – January 2020 – Walkway to Glacier Heaven

If you thought Buenos Aires was far south, you haven’t seen anything yet. We made a 3 hour flight further south to El Calafate.




Which my phone said was here




We have come to far southern Patagonia in Argentina to see Los Glaciares National Park for a few days. It is home to the 3rd largest ice fields in the world (after Antarctica and Greenland).

To my amazement though the surroundings are desert, so the drive out felt more like Southern California than what I think of as glacial areas like Alaska.







With our mid day arrival, and an hour and a half drive to the park we only had time on this day to do the walkways.

We had our first glimpses on the drive into the park.



This was well worth the trip out for the afternoon, as the walkways are well built paths that take you to various levels very close to the snout of the glacier Perito Moreno.








































The walkways was an excellent way to start our visit to the park, but there is much more to see in subsequent postings.






Furnace Creek, CA – June 2005 – Death Valley National Park

Perhaps it isn’t the greatest idea to visit Death Valley in late June, when the high temperatures approached 120 degrees, but we did. For good reason every photo that I have with people in it, the people are holding bottles of water!

We had a great day at Badwater Basin, Devils Golf Course (not really a golf course), Natural Bridge, Mosaic Canyon and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. And amazingly the next morning, we did go golfing for real. The fairways aren’t really green, more of a yellow, and hard as concrete so even lousy golfers like us could hit the ball a long ways, since it would roll forever.

Death Valley is one place I need to revisit and spend more time, it is an amazing place.

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