Death Valley Superbloom

Spectacular display of wildflowers in Death Valley

Desert Gold  (camissonia brevipes),  Death Valley National Park
Desert Gold (camissonia brevipes), Death Valley National Park

The news reports are calling this years wildflower bloom in Death Valley a “superbloom;” the best show in a decade. I was able to carve out a few days last week to make a quick trip. If you are going to Death Valley you might want to check out the park website page about wildflowers. There’s also a link on the page to check out the current conditions. Last week large sections of the valley were carpeted with Desert Gold, the bloom working it’s way north. The wildflower display will likely continue into April, as the succession of flowers takes place. It’s quite a site to see what’s usually bare rocky soil awash with yellow.

Some advice for looking for flowers; get out of the car and walk. I took a walk up a wash, and found a patch of flowers I wanted to photograph. When I stopped,  all I saw were the stalks of Desert Gold. I sat down on the ground to get a good vantage point, and while I was on the ground, I started seeing plants that I hadn’t seen when I was standing.  Many of the plants where just putting up flower stalks, with flowers yet to come later in the season.

I’ve posted a gallery of photos from my trip. Here’s a link to a selection of wildflower photos.

I’ll be posting more about my trip over the next few days, so stay tuned.

Log of the Shearwater. Drake’s Estero

tjp_1551_1012Log of the Shearwater. Drake’s Estero. I’ve been trying to get my kayak, the “Shearwater,” on Drakes Estero since mid-December. The estero closes from March 1 through June 30 for seal pupping. This weekend looked like a good opportunity. The weather was looking promising, with clear skies and no wind predicted, and the tides were such to give us enough water to paddle over the sand bars without dragging out boats over the sand, which we have done on occasion. High Tide of 5.6 ft at 10:45 for Blake’s Landing (Tomales Bay). We need about 3 1/2 feet of water to be able to paddle without grounding on the shoals. I was bound and determined to go, regardless of who were to join me. Solo or not. Decided I would get an early start, up at 7am, and Joann announced she would join me. Happy to have a paddling partner. Had the boats and gear ready by 8:15, dropped Carson off at Metrodog, for doggy day care, and we were on the water at 10:15, launching from the bearch at Drakes Estero. We were surprised to see that all signs of the oyster farm were gone, and least the shore based operation. No buildings, no piles of shells, no dock. No sign that they had ever existed, except for the power poles. We paddled out to Drake’s Beach, arriving on the beach at 11:25, just shy of four miles from our launch. Ate lunch on the beach. Joann was anxious to get back on the water to paddle back before the tide dropped, so without dallying long, we were back on the water paddling at noon. Met one hiker on the beach, and passed a row boat on the way back. Very quiet on the water, with a few stand-up-paddle boards and kayaks near the launch. But we didn’t see anybody else on the water. Perhaps with the Super Bowl, people are have other priorities.

Returned from our paddle feeling refreshed and tired. Nothing refreshes me quite so much as being outdoors, paddling, hiking, or just enjoying nature.

Here’s a link to the track for the day’s paddle:

Holiday Shopping?

It was not my intent to avoid the retail shops this Christmas season, but Christmas came and went and I managed to avoid the shopping frenzy. A couple of years ago we started pooling names for Christmas gifts. The idea being that rather than get gifts for everybody, we’d draw names, and get one gift for the person who’s name we draw.  We used create our Secret Santa gift exchange. Among the items on my recipients wish list was something homemade.  I spent a few days thinking about what I could make. No shortage of photos, but I wouldn’t want to give somebody a photo that might not suit their needs. How about photo note cards? I’ve been producing note cards off and on for close to 40 years. I stopped a few years ago when the printer I used broke and the replacement wouldn’t take the fine art paper I was using. I had also decided that trying to print my own artwork was not productive, given the time and expense of maintaining the printer and such. I got to wondering if the Epson XP-810 I currently use would take the fine art paper. So without too much effort Santa went to work selecting images that he thought would suit the recipient, and after a few hours work he had an elegant batch of note cards, each with a photo representing something from the Eastern Sierra. The only thing Santa’s work shop was missing was envelopes, so a quick trip to Office Depot one morning produced the missing item.

Don’t expect these to be available in any retail outlet soon. To make this work Santa had to print the cards by hand feeding one sheet at a time through the rear paper feed. About 30 percent of the cards had to be scrapped due to ink smudges appearing on some cards. Perhaps not something that’s viable as a commercial effort, but fun to create a gift that was truly something of a personal expression and something the recipient will enjoy.

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