A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about wildflowers

Roaming the outback and back

sunny 78 °F

Well, I don't know if it's officially the Outback, but I did head north out of Perth for a day of visiting the countryside. The first random thing I did was head off on a side road from the main highway lured by a sign for the Western Australia Gravity University Research Center. Of course, my first thought was of a bunch of scientists standing around with an apple going "yup, it does fall down even though we are on the wrong side of the world-how does that work?" Alas, I had foolishly neglected the Iron Law of Public Places and after about a 20 mile drive I found that the Center was closed on Mondays.

The good news was that I was in some pretty undisturbed country by the time I got there

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so I took the opportunity to roam around. It appeared to be the height of wildflower season if you looked closely! There were dozens of kinds of wildflowers, some quite spectacular

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but the great majority were quite small and hidden, but still beautiful. Reminded me of California desert wildflowers in that way.

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There were also a variety of unusual plants that made it clear I wasn't in Kansas any more.

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Up the road, in contrast, is the Australian wheat belt.

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I pressed on, enjoying the view and happening upon the occasional oddity like this -

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My goal was Nambung National Park, home of the Pinnacles formation. And it was worth the trip

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There are thousands of these things all sticking out of the desert - how they were formed is still unclear.

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There were pinnacles of all shapes and sizes. Here's a small one - a 'minnicle'?

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And, of course, the really small ones are nanicles....

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Another really cool feature of the area is a highly saline lake, Lake Thetis, which is the home of some stromatolites.

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These are mats of bacteria that develop through a combination of accretion and expansion caused by gasses welling up from below. The coolest things about stromatolites is that this life form can be found in the fossil record over 3.5 billion years ago - currently the earliest record of life on Earth. So the picture above would look pretty much the same billions of years ago! (Except for the sky color - oxygen levels were likely lower so the sky and water wouldn't look so blue - the photographers of 3.5 billion years ago would have had to use paleo-Photoshop to get this nice blue color.)

Hit the beach for the usual spectacular sunset and headed home

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Posted by tdeits 14:55 Archived in Australia Tagged sunset outback pinnacles wildflowers Comments (0)

Death Valley and Desert Southwest wildflowers

March, 2016

sunny 78 °F

I was in Southern California visiting friends when I found I had a few days to spare, so I took advantage of the opportunity and roamed around the desert Southwest, primarily motivated by the fact that Death Valley was experiencing what is called a 'superbloom' - a combination of rainfall and temperature that promotes exceptional wildflower germination and blooming. Superblooms happen roughly every decade, so it sounded like the right time to go.

I went with a friend to Anza Borrego State Park for my first stop. It's a pleasant drive from San Diego that takes you down quiet highways and offers an opportunity for a damn fine cup of coffee and a slice of pie in Julian. We visited the visitor's center and were encouraged to take a trail nearby where both flowers and bighorn sheep (possibly including some babies) might be seen. Well, we didn't see any babies but we did encounter a quite placid group of male bighorn dining by the side of the trail, happy to be photographic subjects.

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Here are a few flowers found in Anza Borrego - I will try and give common names when I have a decent guess from flower guides.

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This is (probably) Indigo bush and desert sunflower

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Desert paintbrush

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Brittlebush

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Beavertail cactus

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Bighorn sheep stalking a tourist (and ocotillo)

I headed on solo to Death Valley. Whether I was actually there during the official superbloom or perhaps a bit afterwards (as the Park Service website stated), there were still a whole lot of flowers. My best luck in finding interesting blooms was to park by the side of the road and hike maybe a quarter mile up a side canyon, looking for interesting items. The weather was perfect - maybe 70's at the top of the valley and about 90 at the bottom. For starters, here's a picture of the valley floor from Dante's View.

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I was amused by this meandering rivulet on the valley floor

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When I got to the bottom, near Furnace Creek, it's hard to call what I say anything less than a superbloom. The valley floor was covered in blossoms of the Desert Gold plant. Here are pictures from a couple of locations northwest of Furnace Creek, along highway 190.

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And here are pictures from my wanderings in the hills above Death Valley

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Foothill deervetch

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Desert sunflower and wooly daisy

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Orange lichen

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Gold poppy and desert filaree

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Bigelow's monkeyflower

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and something purple....

I wandered on south and dropped into Phoenix to watch the Giants whip the Padres....

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then headed south to Tucson where I visited Kitt Peak Observatory and found some very nice wildflowers growing along the highway

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Desertbells

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Chia and California golden poppies

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Poppies and something pink

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Fairyduster

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Something orange (Jewelweed - thanks, Mary!)

I spent an afternoon in Saguaro National Park as well - very cool place.

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On my way out of the park I took this sunset picture which seems to be a good choice to end this brief entry.

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Posted by tdeits 20:27 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes death_valley wildflowers phoenix tuscon anza_borrego spring_training Comments (0)

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