Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sonoran Desert Museum -the Blooming Cactus

As we entered the gates to the museum we were greeted with this blooming Saguaro... the ocotillo also in full colour.

Close up of the ocotillo blossoms.

They told us that there are two kinds of owls... Barn owls and all the rest. And that Barn owls are on every continent except Antarctica, because there were no rodents to eat on Antarctica.

It is fun to watch the hummingbirds... but hard to catch good shots of these quick moving birds. This mother is on her nest.

I have a friend who says these birds are mice with wings.

Century plant in bloom.

Adenium Winter Remedy.

California Poppies.

Another Saguaro in bloom.

Thurber Cholla... such a soft blossom.

Hybrid Torch Cactus -the "Flying Saucer."  For me this was the highlight of the day. The flower was about 10" across.

As we left the museum I took this shot of Shirley with her red hat.

"Sight is often reinforced by other senses. A flower looks different when you can smell it."
Henry Grunwald, Twilight: Losing Sight, Gaining Insight

Just don't get too close when smelling cactus flowers.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park -Best Rock Story Ever!

We started to come to Joshua Tree in the early 1970's when I was working at Loma Linda University... and it has always been a favourite place to visit. This week we were passing close by on our way down I-10 heading to Tucson, and we decided to take a few hours for a hike.

The Mastadon Mine Loop Trail looked like an interesting hike... not too long or steep.

This is Cottonwood Spring. The spring makes these massive palm trees and cottonwoods flourish in this dry desert.

End of March has the Yuccas almost done blooming here.

Shirley wanted me to stand by these giant boulders and give her my classic pose... and these are not biggest rocks in the park. In fact, this trail likely has the smallest boulders in the park.

These Brittlebush flowers are also near the end of their blooming season.

I think this looks like a Tansy Aster.

What a beauty up close!

In the springtime the Brittlebush adds a lot of colour to the landscape here.

We elected to take the loop trail to Mastodon Peak... which not only has the reward of a great view from the top, but there is also an old mine site near the top.

There were several jet trails in the rich blue sky. What an interesting landscape.

It was obvious that this huge boulder split in half. Can you imagine being nearby when that happened?

We could see the Salton Sea from the plateau near the top where the mine was. Lots of water there this year. Many other times we've seen it bone dry... all white with salt.

Since learning the name of this unusual rock within a rock... a concretion... we keep seeing them everywhere.

Here we see several holes in the rocks... concretions... where the small rock has fallen out.

As we got close to the peak, I took some photos of others who had reached the top... and decided I wanted to see the view from up there.

When I got there I called to Shirley to catch a photo of me. You know it's me by the crazy pose and the cowboy hat.

They say in years gone by there were 300 mines within the boundary of this National Park.

I could see there was a mine shaft that went straight down.

They are doing some restoration to help save this historic mine site... a work in progress.

In some places they actually carved stair treads into the rock.

In other places they built the stairs by placing large rocks to make the risers and treads.

The Angelita Daisy is one of the Aster family.

This Desert Chicory is also in the Aster family.

We saw several colourful cactus blossoms.

You never see too many cactus blossoms.

There were large masses of these... I think they are California Suncups.

There were not as many California Poppies here... and these tended to be more yellow than orange.

The ocotillo are in full leaf, but the bright red tips are just beginning to form.

Signs pointed out a couple of deep Bedrock Mortar holes where native Indians pounded seeds into flour.

Oh how times have changed.

We will always come back to Joshua Tree... we love the interesting gigantic rocks.

In fact next time I hope it will be with an RV so we can stay a few days to hike around on the trails thru these magnificent gigantic rocks.

On this Easter weekend we are reminded of a BIG rock story...

The Best BIG Rock Story ever.

It was a BIG rock that the soldiers rolled in front of the tomb where Jesus had been laid after He was crucified. Those of you who know me know that I have a history of trying to move rocks that are heavier than any one man can move... so it was nothing short of a miracle that the tomb stone was moved.  When Jesus arose from the grave on that Sunday morning the BIG rock that guarded His tomb had been moved, in spite of the tomb being guarded... and Jesus was no longer inside.

He had Risen!  Jesus had done what no man has ever done before. He overcame death. At that time the lives of those who believed in Jesus were transformed. And even to this day all who believe in Jesus will find salvation and their lives will be transformed. Is there any better hope for us today?

To me that makes this the Best BIG rock story ever!

"Thru the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ." -Romans 5:17