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EARTH DAY 2017

EARTH DAY 2017:  We Need to Do Better

“To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.”   Wendell Berry

“The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge, for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.”   Marya Mannes

I try to celebrate Earth Day every time I head out into Nature, not just once a year. 

But today demands a special celebration because it is the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day. 

Today’s Earth Day Celebrations champion not just the beauty and variety of our natural world, but the role humans should play in preserving our Earth for future generations.  As stewards, we need to protect the natural world not plunder it for easy profits.  Part of this stewardship means we need to develop alternative energies, protect spiritual lands as well as national parks, work on local as well as global conservation efforts, and make strides to counter the problems of climate change.

Not everyone accepts this responsibility to protect our world.  Current government actions are even undermining protections that have long been in place to preserve the environment and not exploit its treasures and undercutting funding for the science needed to help make things better.  If you want to get more informed and more involved on some efforts to keep preserving the Earth for the future, consider joining the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy or the Natural Resources Defense Council in their efforts.

I’m sharing some of my favorite photos to show some of the wonders of Nature that inspire me with awe and reverence, that generate contemplation and reflection, that make me see the need for interdependence with all of nature.  It is easy to see God at work out in Nature!  How can we not take care of the Earth?  Maybe these photos will help suggest some of what is at stake if responsibility for protecting the Earth continues to be ignored or—worse–abrogated.

Get involved today!  If you need a reminder about the importance of Nature and all its wonders, go for a drive or take a hike! Maybe you will find some ancient voices carved in the hills.  Happy Earth Day 2017.   How are you celebrating the day?

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Some Quotes about the Need to Protect Our Earth

“We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.”   Kurt Vonnegut

“The only thing that scares me more than space aliens is the idea that there aren’t any space aliens.  We can’t be the best that creation has to offer.  I pray we’re not all there is.  If so, we’re in big trouble.”   Ellen DeGeneres

“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”   Jacques-Yves Cousteau

“Every day is Earth Day, and I vote we start investing in a secure climate future right now.”   Jackie Speier

“My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.”   Abraham Lincoln

“You carry Mother Earth within you.  She is not outside of you.  Mother Earth is not just your environment.  In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer.”   Thich Nhat Hanh

“Earth as an ecosystem stands out in all of the universe.  There’s no place that we know about that can support life as we know it, not even out sister planet, Mars, where we might set up housekeeping someday, but at great effort and trouble we have to recreate the things we take for granted here.”   Sylvia Earle

“If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either.”   Joseph Wood Krutch

“We have a moral responsibility to protect the earth and ensure that our children and grandchildren have a healthy and sustainable environment in which to live.”  Jim Clyburn

“Life on earth is more like a verb.  It repairs, maintains, re-creates, and outdoes itself.”   Lynn Margulis

“But when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth. . . . The view of Earth is spectacular.”   Sally Rider

“I see a lot of damage to Mother Earth.  I see water being taken from creeks where water belongs to animals, not to oil companies.”   Winona LaDuke

“Sell a country?  Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?  Did not the Great Spirit make them for the use of his children?”   Tecumseh

“Life is abundant, and life is beautiful.  And it’s a good place that we’re all in, you know, on this earth, if we take care of it.”   Alice Walker

 

 

 

“It is wholesome and necessary things for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”  Rachel Carson

Earth is such a glorious paradox. It is everywhere, so common and typical but—at the same time—so unique, showing beauty and variety specific to each place.  Earth can run alongside a road or stretch across an open field; it can reach the heights of a mountain or stay close to the ground, supporting blossoms.  No matter where Earth is, it is worthy of celebration.  Over the last several years, I have enjoyed Earth across several states as pictured below.

ARIZONA

CALIFORNIA

COLORADO

NEVADA

NEW MEXICO

UTAH

WYOMING

This post is my response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth.

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SOME QUOTES ABOUT THE BEAUTY AND WONDER OF EARTH

“I’m fascinated by beautiful scenery and what we have here on this Earth.”  Matt Lanter

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and winds long to play with your hair.”   Kahlil Gibran

“Earth’s crammed with heaven. . .  but only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”   Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”  Henry David Thoreau

I needed a day out in Nature! 

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”   John Burroughs

 “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.”   Edward Abbey

I continued my Search for Spring by driving into the hills southwest of Maricopa, California.  My goal was to find the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge.  It is closed to the public, but the roads that run along its perimeter promised great views of the area.  There was a slim possibility that I might see some Condors soaring on the thermals, but that did not happen on this cloudy gray day.

One set of directions I found online said to take Klipstein Canyon Road until it connects with Cerro Noroeste Road that parallels the wildlife refuge.  Only Klipstein Canyon Road no longer allows the public to traverse its entire length.  The few miles I traveled were pretty and rather desolate but also offered some flowers and birds. I even enjoyed the occasional “Private Property” signs.

Greater Roadrunner

California Quail

I finally found Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge via Cerro Noroeste Road. This route was also rather isolated and punctuated with occasional flowers and grand vistas.  Next year, I will drive this route a bit earlier in the year when I bet more flowers will be in bloom.

Horned Larks Were Around Singing, But Not Getting Very Close

Cerro Noroeste Road eventually looped onto Mil Portrero Road and then Cuddy Valley Road, leading me up to Pine Mountain before hitting I-5 to drive home.

All in all, I found some great views, a few flowers and a couple birds.

It was a wonderful afternoon!

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A FEW QUOTES ABOUT THE POWER OF NATURE

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”   Albert Einstein

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”   Claude Monet

“We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts.”   William Hazlitt

“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”   Margaret Atwood

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.  There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”   Rachel Carson

“EARTH LAUGHS IN FLOWERS.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two of my favorite wildflowers are Lupine and California Poppies.  They are both so bold and bright that when they make an appearance, you have to notice them.  A great place to watch for their first appearance each spring is driving I-5 over the Grapevine.  When patches of orange paint the hills, it is time to start exploring the area with more diligence.

A great spot to find a closer view of wildflowers is on the Gorman Post Road, near the top of the Grapevine.  This year was no different, but the poppies were not as evident as usual.  The lupines, however, were flanking the road along with some other colorful blooms.

Fortunately, the California Poppies were taking over the fields en route to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve State Park.  According to the staff, the east side of the park was where poppies were most likely to be found on its actual grounds. When a friend and I were there on a weekend in early April—as predicted by the staff—it was almost impossible to get into the parking lot and past the entry kiosk.  We chose not to wait at least an hour to be able to look for a parking space, especially since we had already been sitting for close to an hour on the adjacent roads.  I’m really not crazy about crowds.

On a Weekday–Weekends The Cars Would Be Ten Times Worse

These Distant Hills Are Officially Part of the Preserve

The poppies, however, do not simply grow in the Poppy Preserve.  Their audacious color erupts along the roads and throughout the fields in the whole area surrounding the park.  And the poppies are joined by some other blooms as well.

Several Stands of These Pink Trees Were Blooming Along Lancaster Road

If you have not wandered by Gorman and then on Lancaster Road toward the Poppy Preserve, the time to get out there is now.  You will be rewarded with seeing some of the boldest and brightest wildflowers around!

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”    Iris Murdoch

“For myself I hold no preference among flowers, so long as they are wild, free and spontaneous.”   Edward Abbey

“I must have flowers, always and always.”   Claude Monet

“How does the Meadow-flower its bloom unfold?  Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and, in that freedom, bold.”  William Wordsworth

“Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’”   Robert Orben

“It is Spring again.  The earth is like a child that knows a poem by heart.”   Rainer Maria

My Spring 2017 search for wildflowers drew me to California’s Red Rock Canyon State Park a couple of times.  I was hoping for a repeat of the glorious display of Desert Dandelions I had seen back in Spring 2015.  Alas, that was the not the case.

But there were flowers to augment the iconic iron-laden sandstone that welcomes visitors to the state park.  It was a relaxing afternoon—and I might go back again later this spring to see what else might be in bloom.

The iconic cliffs and buttes have been used in many movies and television shows over the years, including Buck Rogers (TV series), The Big Country, The Outlaw, Jurassic Park and 40 Guns to Apache Pass (Audie Murphy’s last film).  For size comparison, the “little” mushroom like formation is 25 feet tall.

Throughout the grounds of Red Rock Canyon, various spring blossoms were evident.  No one type of plant was very abundant, but their colors jumped out from the muted grounds.

The drive into the park from both directions offered some colorful flowers as well.  The golden fields were found along Highway 14 north of the park, while the Globe Mallow were starting to blossom along the highway to the south.

I could not have asked for a better afternoon drive!

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“Spend the afternoon.  You can’t take it with you.”   Annie Dillard

“In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society.”   Henry David Thoreau

CARRIZO PLAIN NATIONAL MONUMENT

“Spring is Nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”   Robin Williams

“The day the Lord created Hope was probably the same day he created Spring.”  Bernard Williams

The first time I visited Carrizo Plain National Monument was in April 2016.  At that time, I was impressed by its vastness and stark views, and I enjoyed the occasional blossoms alongside the road.  The history and geology of the area are fascinating as well.  The park ranger advised I come back in March next time if I wanted to see more flowers.

She sure was right.

I visited the Carrizo Plain a couple times in March 2017, once with a friend.  (Our photos are intermixed a bit in this presentation.)  The flowers were absolutely tremendous. I drove in from the north, taking Highway 58 to Highway 33 into McKittrick.  Soda Lake Road runs through the park, eventually connecting to Highway 166 and the drive home.   Near and far, color was everywhere.  This year’s wildflower display is surely a Super Bloom!

The main road through the Carrizo Plain wanders back and forth between paved and unpaved, but—no matter what—flowers are strewn along the way adding color and variety.  Wind was a constant companion as well.  The breezes really kept the flowers and grasses dancing across the hills.

The hills, of course, are alive with color.  I especially like the occasional patches of pink and orange that popped out amidst the more typical yellow, green, and varying shades of blue and purple.

Soda Lake is at the heart of the Carrizo Plain, There is a hill that offers an overlook of the lake as well as a boardwalk that lets visitors stroll lakeside.

 

I have not identified all the flowers in bloom on my visits, but some of the main ones include Brittlebush, Blue Phacelia, Creosote Bush, Fiddleneck, Milk Vetch, Baby Blue Eyes, and then some sort of Daisy, something pink, and perhaps California Bluebell.  Lupine and California Poppies finally started to blossom along Highway 166.

Blue Phacelia

Brittlebrush

Fiddleneck

Baby Blue Eyes

Milk Vetch

Some Sort of Daisy? Maybe a Version of Desert Dandelion?

Juniper Berries

Creosote Bush

California Bluebells?

I Love the Grasses

These Lupine and California Poppies were captured on the steep curves of Highway 166.

If you have not yet visited Carrizo Plain National Monument, get there fast.  You might catch the end of this year’s Super Bloom.  Definitely add visiting here to your plan for next spring.

NOTE:  I am never 100% confident in my flower identifications.  If you can make corrections, please share your expertise in the comments.  Thanks.  Whether I can name them or not, these wildflowers are incredible!

Wildflowers are erupting all over California this year, thanks in great part to the rains that are finally coming and coming—as well as intermittent days of unseasonably warm weather.  Super Blooms are being touted in many places.  One that was praised early in March for its Super Bloom was Anza Borrego Desert State Park, not far from San Diego.  By the time I was able to get down there, I expected the flowers would be starting to wane, but I was hoping there would still be some impressive color.

I was not disappointed.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is located within the Colorado Desert Region and is comprised of 600,000 acres.  The park stretches across three counties and is the largest in California as well as the second largest in the contiguous United States.  It offers extensive hiking trails as well as some paved and many unpaved roads that help visitors find its hidden treasures.  To see the range of places to visit and potential sights to see explore these websites.

I kept my visit simple, driving in from the south on CA 79-S, eventually traveling on Montezuma Valley Rd. and Palm Canyon Rd.  My path led me up about 2400 feet over a little mountain range and then back down about 2000 feet to the little town of Borrego Springs that sits in the middle of the extensive state park. The vistas, even without flowers, were impressive.

I felt I was on some version of the Yellow Brick Road since the way was lined with yellow for what seemed like miles.

I visited on a Tuesday, and it was busy!  I am thrilled that so many people want to see wildflowers, but I really prefer them not to visit when I do. (Others never cooperate on this point—drats!)   I never made it to the Visitor Center because it looked to be about an hour wait just to be able to look for a parking place.  I don’t do that sort of thing!   I also did not wander onto hiking trails.  But sticking to the scenic driving route helped me find some great blooms—so I was very happy.

The most prevalent flowers were the yellow Brittlebrush as shown above, but others were evident as well.

My favorites are the cactus that were in bloom:  The red bloom of the Beavertail cactus, the green spine and red plume of the Ocotillo, and the burgeoning new spines of the Chollo in preparation for its blossoms.

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