“Pic of the Week”, November 27, 2015. The Cabins, Valley of Fire State Park

02 Valley of The Fire StateP Park  (107)

These are “The Cabins” in Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.  Three small rooms were built from the local sandstone in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), who did a lot of similar work in the parks and remote regions of the country during the Great Depression (‘make work’ projects, like trail and road construction).  These cabins were used by travelers for camping stays in Valley of the Fire, but have been abandoned.  I couldn’t find any good information on how long they were used, but it’s clear when you visit that they’ve not been inhabited for some time.  While the setting is beautiful, I think the summer heat would have been unbearable to many — …

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.All Trips / Peru / South America

The Nazca Lines, Peru

31 Nazca lines. Condor

If you drive south of Lima on the  Pan Am Highway in Peru, you’ll drive by (and through) the Nazca Desert along the foothills of the Andes.  This is one of the driest places in the world.  The average rainfall is less than an inch (<2 cm) a year and some years there’s no rain at all.  The Nazca Lines are an amazing group of geoglyphs etched into the surface of the desert.  There are about 300 hundred figures that comprise the Nazca lines including, besides lines, geometric shapes and pictures of animals and birds.

Along the highway you can stop at the Mirador tower, built along the Pan Am highway.  This tower allows people to climb up and see a …

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“Pic of the Week”. March 20, 2015: Death Valley National Park, California

2014 27a July 4, 2014  Death Valley

One of the most unique landscapes in North America is to be found in Death Valley National Park, in eastern California.  It’s among the hottest and driest places in USA, but the park has some amazing landscapes ranging from magnificent sand dunes, to salt pans, to colorful mineral deposits.  Many areas of the park are actually below sea level.

This is definitely a place to visit in winter (from late fall to early spring).  Wild flowers are in bloom.  Days are pleasant although nights will be chilly (so bring a warm coat).  The terrible heat of summer is extremely unpleasant, even dangerous, and best avoided.  A mechanical break down of your car in July could turn into a harrowing experience.

Karl on | Comments Off on “Pic of the Week”. March 20, 2015: Death Valley National Park, California
.All Trips / California / North America / Southwestern USA

A hike up Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs

California, Spring 2009  026.  Tahquitz Canyon Waterfall and Oasis

It’s a great time of year to be visiting the desert regions of the Southwestern USA.  The weather is warm and pleasant, the wildflowers are in bloom, and the oppressive heat of summer is a distant memory.  This is the time of year to go on a hike in the Mojave and that’s what we’re going to look at today: a walk up tranquil Tahquitz Canyon just outside of Palm Springs, California.  This is one of several canyons in the area, each with its own character, each awaiting exploration!

Centuries ago, ancestors of the Agua Caliente Indians settled in the Palm Springs area.  They adapted well to life in the desert and developed a complex network of communities …

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.All Trips / Central USA / Colorado / North America / Utah

One of the Most Scenic Road Trips in America! The Grand Army of the Republic Highway (Hwy I-70).

024 I-70 roadtrip heading east.  Spotted Wolf Canyon

The United States has some of the planet’s finest scenery and boasts dozens of great drives.  From the California’s Pacific Coast Highway, to Montana’s Going to the Sun Road, to Newfound Gap Road in the Smoky Mountains, there’s scenic drives in almost all parts of the country.  But I think this highway is one of the best.  As it winds through eastern Utah and western Colorado, you see varied scenery including desert with memorable and colorful rock monoliths, the Colorado River, canyons and the lush forested Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The road I’m referring to is the I-70 freeway and particularly the stretch between Salina, Utah to just before Denver, Colorado.  As it is a freeway, the highway is well maintained although …

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“Pic of the Week”. March 28, 2014: Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Saguaro 003

I love visiting the desert around Tucson in the spring!  The weather is lovely, the desert is alive, and you get to enjoy the beautiful saguaro forest.

I find saguaro the most interesting of the many species of cacti; by silhouette alone the saguaro is an iconic symbol of the American Southwest.  Saguaro can grow to a height of 20 meters (70 ft) and live up to several hundred years.  They are native to the Sonoran desert of northern Mexico and southern Arizona.

Saguaro cacti grow “arms”, the first appearing from 75 – 100 years of age.  The arms increase the plant’s reproductive capacity (more tops yield more flowers and fruit — the fruit being edible).  Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up …

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.All Trips / Arizona / North America / Southwestern USA

The Desert: a Garden in Spring

001 California, Spring 2009  209 Joshua Tree National Park

I’ve been intrigued by deserts ever since I first visited one as a teenager.  The first impression I remember having is of a lifeless, harsh and barren place.  It’s certainly a hostile environment but I couldn’t have been more wrong about it being lifeless and barren.  Deserts are teaming with life and have a flora and fauna that’s incredibly well adapted to their challenging environment.  Temperature extremes, strong winds and little rainfall all necessitate hardy species.  Examples such as the cactus, with its protective spines and thick skin, are illustrative.

I love visiting the desert in the spring almost as much as I hate visiting the desert in the summer.  The reason for those who’ve lived in the American Southwest is …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 22, 2013. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

2013-46-November 22a Bryce Canyon 6-93 012 Natural Bridge

Utah is a land of surprises and one of my favorite US states.  It has some of the most unusual and colorful rock formations in the world.  Whether it’s dramatic arches, natural bridges, amazingly sheer canyons or rock monoliths, Utah has it all!  And in white, black, red, orange, brown and most every other imaginable shade.

One of my favorite destinations in Utah is Bryce Canyon National Park.  Situated in southwestern Utah the park is of surprisingly high altitude, so keep this in mind when planning your trips there (evenings are always cool, snow comes early and stays a long time, even into summer).  The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 – 9,000 feet …

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