Friday, May 6, 2011

Cadiz Ranch

Last weekend we attended an event at Cadiz Ranch to benefit Sky's the Limit Observatory and Nature Center. The ranch is located off the old Route 66 just east of Amboy, about an hour and a half's drive from home. Signs like the one above point you along the way. It's out in the middle of nowhere, with dark night skies ideal for the astronomically inclined.

Cadiz Ranch is an unexpected oasis in the desert--an organic farm with hundreds of acres planted to lemons, table grapes (which are dried on the vine for raisins) and row crops like squash. The view above is across the rows of squash--that green wall in the distance is the beginning of over 300 acres of lemons.

The vineyards were first planted in 1986. What makes all this abundance possible is a gigantic underground aquifer. Seven wells pump 2,000 gallons a minute, 24/7. Hard to believe we have so many water problems just 90 miles west of this site. And get this: all of this pure water comes out of the ground geothermally heated--around 90 degrees. Apparently the plants love it, especially in the winter! There are plans in the works for Cadiz, Inc. (a NASDAQ-traded company) to construct a pipeline and sell this water to the rest of Southern California. Note: this would be a really bad idea. For information about why, click here

The event consisted of ranch tours, a barbecue, and various astronomy displays and viewing scopes. JPL scientists were on hand with a life-size replica of the Mars Rover. Above is the ranch briefing office, event central. (BTW: Event parking was on an airstrip next to the briefing office.) Below is Bill looking through a sun scope that provided a detailed view of the sun's surface.

Out of the Blue, a bluegrass band from Lake Isabella, played some outstanding music. We went to this event with around a dozen friends and had a wonderful time--brought home some free lemons, too!