Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sky Watch—Death Valley

See more skies from around the world at Skywatch Friday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Scotty’s Castle—My world

No trip to Death Valley would be complete without a visit to Scotty’s Castle.


The castle is well above the valley floor at an elevation of 4000’.  It is still plenty hot in the summer but not as hot as Furnace Creek.

The interior is kept dark, all the curtains pulled to protect the fabrics.  Flash is allowed but I found I liked the effect better if I increased the ISO to 1600 and didn’t use flash.

The “castle” didn’t actually belong to Scotty and he didn’t live there, but he did have a room of his own.  The owners of the “Castle”, Albert and Bessie Johnson, provided him a home elsewhere.  Scotty would come to the Ranch to entertain the Johnson’s visitors with his tall tales.

They enjoyed entertaining and the large dining room shows they could feed quite a few.

There were four or five bedrooms, another indication that they liked to entertain as they had no children.

Above the daybed is displayed a small part of Bessie’s collection of native baskets.  I like the drop down desk.

Beautiful tile work and pottery is found through out.

The music room must have been a favorite with visitors.  Behind this screen was a pipe organ.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Scotty's Castle.  Tour more places from around the world at My World Tuesday, hosted for us by  Klaus, Sandy, Wren Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flowers and Shadows in Death Valley

I promised to show you some of the flowers we saw in Death Valley.

First I have a shadow from the Desert Gold.

There was lots of Desert Gold and the bright yellow color could be seen for quite a distance.

The Yellow Cups were not as abundant.

I saw only a few clumps of this pretty little daisey.

There were several purple/pink varieties blooming.

There was quite a bit of the Fivespot blooming at the visitor center, elswhere I saw it but not in bloom.

Above the valley floor we saw some Beaver Tail in bloom and a whate cactus in a place we could not stop. We saw what might have been Claret Cups Cactus but it was not blooming.

You can find more shadows at Shadow Shot Sunday, hosted for us by Tracy.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sky Above Lone Pine

I keep telling myself that I will only post great photos, pictures that are sharp and clear, artistic and unusual. So what am I doing? I'm posting fuzzy, distant shots because I want to share an experience.
As we left Lone Pine and headed towards Death Valley I looked back at the Sierra. High in the sky was a flock of birds.
They danced in the sky like ballerinas. Flying one way they looked black, almost lost to view.
Then they would turn and catch the sun, their bodies white and the wingtips black. I thought they might be snow geese. I hated to leave, it was a beautiful sight, but we still had a long drive ahead.

When we got home and I downloaded the photos I could see, they weren't geese, they were American White Pelicans. Enlarge this bottom photo and you can see it too.

If you would like to see more views of skies around the world go to Sky Watch Friday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Watery Death Valley

Yes, there is water in Death Valley.
Salt Creek is one of several seeps and springs in Death Valley.
It is home to one of nine pupfish species and subspecies, each one evolved and adapted to a specific environment. These environments were isolated from one another as the area dried and the pupfish evolved to suit their new environments, some hot, some cooler, some very salty. Will we be as able to adapt and survive as a species if our environment goes through such dramatic changes?
What's Jules looking at?
An example of what happens when the water disappears. The Devil's Golf Course and the salt flats in the Badwater Basin are the result of eons of mineral laden water that flow into Death Valley from the adjacent mountains but have no outlet to the sea. The water evaporates in the arid climate leaving the salts behind resulting in the vast salt flat and these salt formations. Click here for a more detailed explanation.
Find more watery sights and Watery Wednesday, hosted for us by 2sweetnsaxy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Four Days, Three Seasons—My World

We decided to try again to go to Death Valley before it got too hot. A late season storm caused us to delay our start until mid-day. With no chains for the van we had to wait for chain controls to be lifted in the Sierra.


It was beautiful Spring weather in the Sierra foothills.


As we rose in elevation, things changed. It looked more like Winter. The road was snow free but there were some light flurries still falling.

Bad WaterBad Water, Death Valley

(yellow arrow points to sea level)

Death Valley had Summer time temperatures. It was definitely shorts weather with high temperatures in the mid nineties!


We got out early to view the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

Desert Gold 2

We waited until late afternoon to go to the Harmony Borax Works.

Mid-day found us hiding under the awning of the Roadtrek. There was a nice breeze so it was fairly comfortable. The dominant flower was the Desert Gold Sunflower and if you stayed in your car that was all you would see. Of course, we didn’t stay in the car and I will show you some of the other flowers in a later post.

You can find more views from around the world at

My World Tuesday

Hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sundial Shadows

sun dial

Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley, California

Shadow Shot Sunday can be found at Hey Harriet, hosted for us by Tracy in Brisbane.

I’ll have more shots for you of Death Valley once I choose and edit the worthy ones.

Map picture

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Praise of Blue—Sky Watch


We’ve gone off in search of more photos, maybe some blue sky and flowers.

Search out other skies at Sky Watch Friday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

After the Rain--Watery Wednesday

We don't usually get much rain after March but this year we have had a much needed bonus, a good soaking rain in April.
With my garden now in bloom I went out to see if I could capture some raindrops on iris.
I have lots of iris and some of the bearded iris are now in bloom,
And the columbine as well.
The dogwood
Climbing on the dogwood is a clematis, as the dogwood starts to fade the clematis comes into full bloom.

More watery sights can be found at Watery Wednesday, hosted for us by 2sweetnsaxy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Birds in My World

I enjoy the wide variety of birds that inhabit my community and every once in a while I see something new.
While out walking one day, Jules and I spotted this male Northern Harrier. I often see Harriers flying low, harrying their prey but I have never seen one perched and certainly not close enough for a good shot. I was surprised to see his "owl like" face. Since he hunts close to the ground this shape helps to amplify the sound of his prey, the same function it serves in owls.

How do I know it is a male? Unlike most hawks the markings are quite different between the male and female. The female is a mottled brown while the male is grayish. I seem to see females hunting much more often, probably because during non-nesting season females will chase the males away from the best hunting areas.

Unlike most raptors, the Northern Harrier nests on the ground. Perhaps that is why the difference in markings. The female would be much better camouflaged while she is incubating the eggs.
Their preferred prey is voles, which we have in abundance in the open area and in our gardens. I'm always glad to see the Harriers and the Egrets which also feed on voles!

I also spotted this Rufous Hummingbird the other day. Our usual resident is the Anna's Humming bird. I think the Rufous was migrating through as they are more common in Oregon and Washington. A very aggressive little guy, he was chasing my resident hummers. He doesn't play nice.

See more views from around the world at My World Tuesday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Enter the Shadows


I saw these shadows in an entryway while out for a walk.

You can see more shadows at Shadow Shot Sunday hosted for us by Tracy in Brisbane.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sky Above James Marshall

James Marshall discovered gold at the site of a lumber mill he was building on the American River for John Sutter in 1848.
Marshall never profited from his discovery and died penniless. A monument stands above his grave on a hill in Coloma. His statue points to the spot where he discovered gold, starting the great California Gold Rush.
The site is now a California State Park.

Your can see more skies from around the world at Sky Watch Friday, hosted for us by
Klaus, Sandy, Wren, Fishing Guy and Sylvia.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Water off a Ducks Back--Watery Wednesday

Looking at this Cinnamon Teal I can see where the expression "Like water off a ducks back" came from. The oil in his feathers makes the water bead up.

He seems to be giving me the eye.

When he flips upside-down he churns up the water with his feet.

You can see other watery sights at Watery Wednesday, hosted for us each week by 2sweetnsaxy.