Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ubehebe Crater

The Death Valley Blogathon continues...after Scotty's Castle, we drove west eight miles to Ubehebe Crater. There's a legend that the name means "big basket" in Shoshone. According to National Park literature, however, the Shoshone name for the crater is actually "Tem-pin-tta-Wo'sah," which means "Coyote's Basket." In any case, it's a spectacular site!

The crater was created by a "Maar volcano." Hot magma rose and hit ground water, causing steam and gas explosions. This one occurred around 3,000 years ago--practically yesterday in geological time. There are clusters of Maar volcanoes in the area, but this is the largest one. All that colorful rock inside the crater is "fanglomerate," an alluvial fan that hardened into rock.
The surrounding area is covered with cinders. In this photo, you can see a bit of the crater to the right of the road. They say the cinders are up to 150 feet thick at the crater rim! The day we were there, it was so windy that we literally almost got blown over. The famous Racetrack is just another 20 miles or so down the's easy to imagine a wind strong enough to push rocks across the playa.
More views of the cinder-covered surrounding area. To me, there is something exhilarating about these remote volcanic landscapes.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The World Still Turning

Wishing all our blog readers beauty, peace, and happiness in the year ahead.
Cheers, Cynthia and Bill


Dawn, Lathe Arch, Alabama Hills, October 2012 
Photo by Bill Dahl; Poem by Cynthia Anderson

Because of my nights inside,
I miss how the land breathes in the dark—
how the Pleiades call out, Remember 

where you came from, how a rock
holds infinite cold, how that same rock
is shaped until its narrow waist

makes a space for the light to fill.
Because I always look toward the west,
where the solar rose strews petals

on the Sierra, I miss how the divide
between day and night never stops moving—
rooted in darkness, shedding darkness—

and how, to reach this place, I walk
in starlight, shiver among the rocks,
and wait.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Scotty's Castle

Scotty's Castle wasn't on our original Death Valley itinerary. Everything changed, though, after the big storm that dropped a half inch of rain. Badwater Road and Artist's Loop were closed, so we couldn't go back there as hoped. So, we headed north instead, and it turned out to be a good day. No traffic, no crowds, just us, the blue sky, and the open road.
Since the castle was virtually deserted, it was easy to take pictures. We didn't go on the tour--just poked about on our own and ate our lunch at the picnic tables by the parking lot.
We loved the architectural details. Scotty's Castle is so remote, it's quite wonderful to imagine living there. Death Valley Scotty seems to have had the perfect gig, building the castle for a well-heeled desert lover with deep pockets.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Desert Grown

Our garden has been going great guns for a couple of months now. The other day we harvested these beets. Wow! Our first beet seed sprouted on Sept. 28, which put these beauties right on schedule.
We planted our first seeds on Sept. 23. The first thing to come up was the arugula, four days later. Those first plants are still producing like crazy--above middle. There's also some parsley, cilantro and spinach in this shot. We did succession planting every couple of weeks, so right now everything is producing at once. The extra warm weather this winter has helped.
Here's some new lettuces coming on. I love those little bitty butter lettuces--they are the Tom Thumb variety--according to Seeds of Change, it's the oldest variety of lettuce still available in the U.S.
More beets on the way, plus some more mesclun mix. We haven't bought salad greens for a couple of months now. So delicious--it would be hard to go back to store-bought.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Magic at Zabriskie Point

We spent hours at Zabriskie Point and loved every minute of it. Above: the iconic view of Manly Beacon at sunset. Below: the same view at sunrise the next morning. The stormy weather kept things subdued, but it also meant we were the only people on the site at dawn. That was truly special--it's not the kind of place you can usually have all to yourself. (The spot where Bill has his tripod set up is usually teeming with photographers.)
Below: a couple more pictures from our sunset excursion. The yellow hills are known as mudstone, and they were part of an ancient lake bed several million years ago. The lake bottom sediments were uplifted to make what is seen today. The dark layer of rock that caps some of the ridges is basalt lava from volcanic eruptions.