Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Cape Disappointment

Every time that I visit the U.S. I generally find myself following the Lewis and Clark Trail. This is where it ended. I could not find out WHY it was called Cape Disappointment, but I don't think it was named by L & C. While travelling on this latest journey, I decided to read the book Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo. It's one of those epic tales, mostly fiction, about the Indian woman who guided L & C to the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia River. I'd have to say that the book was a "disappointment" in that it really tried to romanticize the relationship between Sacajawea and Clark. I did like the short introductions to the chapters and I would say that I learned a few things about life in the west in 1805, but any readers would be better off with something shorter and more realistic. I was inspired enough from my travels to purchase the edited journals of L & C.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Look Alikes

If travelling south and Death Valley seems to be just too far to go for unusual clay colours, I'd suggest the John Day Fossil Beds in north-central Oregon. In our usual escape from nasty weather, we'd headed east from Portland and south at Deschutes River State Park in Oregon. Our route took us over the OR 97, 218, and 19 highways to the towns of John Day and Canyon City. There are three "pockets" of John Day Fossil Beds and if you ever want to see Death Valley in minaiture, visit one. It's got the colours, the contrasts and none of the tourists (at least not in April)! This photo demonstrates some of the "green rivers" in the area. There's a couple of tourist type walks around the formations. And if you get all the way to the townsite of John Day and make use of the internet at the library be sure to follow the rules and only do email on the computers intended for email - tsk, tsk.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Goal One

One primary goal of our trip was to observe the desert flowers of Death Valley. We knew before going that there had been "spotty" rainfall so it wasn't going to be a stupendous showing in the flower department. However, the promise or warmth dragged us forward. This little gem, called the Desert Five Spot, was one of my favourites. Does it count if you see the flower by the Visitor Centre? I think so because the site does not have an organized garden, something I would encourage park officials to develop to spread the knowledge of desert plants. We love to walk so got out to observe lots of flowers. Our guide was a small brochure, Wildflowers of Death Valley National Park which was quite useful. The other guide was called 100 Desert Wildflowers of the Southwest which I did not find useful at all. There were no descriptions of the leaves and we were constantly stymied by all the yellow, white, blue and pink flowers. One hundred flowers doesn't even begin to approach the variety of plants that we saw. My general knowledge of plants doesn't seem to give me any hints once I hit the desert - I've got lots of learning to do.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Points South

We're back from 3 weeks in sun and warmer climes. It was pretty sunny for most of our trip, although the temperatures weren't particularly hot. One exception was Death Valley where this picture was taken. We arrived there on April 4th and immediately changed into shorts. Had a couple of nice walks in the desert and enjoyed a huge variety of desert flowers, although this year was not a spectacular flower show. We did spend a couple of nights here close to the full moon and I rather like this picture, taken near Texas Springs in Death Valley. Clear skies allow lots of night sky viewing and we were fairly impressed with the number of people who climbed up steep hills to say goodbye to the day or to greet it as the sun was about to rise.