Monday, May 24, 2010


Just LOOK at this!
It's May 24, and what do I wake up to?
Slush and snow!

This is just WRONG.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wildflower List

Little yellow flowers blooming on bushes
are almost as hard to identify as basic little yellow flowers,
but the above photo is cliffrose (purshia mexicana)
and the photo below is, I think, oregon-grape (mahonia).
Whatever it was, it smelled marvelous.

Then there was the false begonia or winged dock
(rumex venosus)- it isn't really a begonia relative-
surrounded by more spectacle pod (above).
Below, this one gave me some trouble.
I could tell right away it was some kind of milkvetch
(which made me proud-- I have been learning!)
but I couldn't tell what kind at first.
I think it is probably Canada milkvetch (astralagus canadensis) because the flowers turn down slightly and my Audubon guide notes that as a characteristic.

Total list of wildflowers I saw and photographed (successfully)
on this trip:
arrowleaf balsamroot (balsamorhiza sagittata)
Canada milkvetch (astralagus canadensis)
claret cup cactus (echinocereus triglochidiatus)
cliffrose (purshia mexicana)
desert ? globemallow (sphaeralcea)
desert paintbrush (castilleja chromosa)
desert penstemmon (penstemon pseudospectabilis)
desert primrose (oenothera- deltoides?)
milkweed (asclepias)
oregon-grape (mahonia)
penstemon, other variety (penstemon)
cushion phlox (phlox pulvinata)
Stansbury phlox (phlox stansburyi)
spectacle pod (dimophorcarpa wislenzii)
winged dock (rumex venosus)
yellow mariposa lily (calochortus luteus)

There were others I saw but did not stop to hunt up to photograph, or else my photos did not turn out- some variety of roadside lupines, some kind of desert poppy, and others to which I was no doubt oblivious.
However, this is not a bad beginning for an amateur flower detective!

Desert stompers

Now, I do try not to stomp around off trail,
though I admit sometimes to hopping from rock to rock
or balancing my way down along a wash
in order to get closer to a wildflower I want to photograph.
If you want to see evidence of desert stomping,
check out these cow prints.

The ubiquitous little yellow flower

One of the troubles with being an amateur wildflower detective
(the kind of person that has to keep looking up the word 'raceme' because it just doesn't stick naturally in her vocabulary) is
The Ubiquitous Little Yellow Flower.
Half of the wildflowers I run into are Little Yellow Flowers.
There's a LOT of them.
And even narrowing it down by 'Little Yellow Flower in the desert" doesn't help much.
Take these, for example.
They were growing up on a bank above the Strike Valley road and I didn't want to clamber up there and stomp my feet all over the delicate desert soil, but I could have tried harder to zoom in on them, because the view I took just isn't very precise to help me with petal design or the stamens inside the petals or even a very good look at the leaves.
The best I could decide, after looking at all of the Little Yellow Flowers in my Audubon guide, is that this probably is some kind of poppy variant.

(Ps: a "raceme" is long spike of flowers, like a penstemon.
I just looked it up.

Sun and Shade

The Twin Rocks at Capitol Reef.
Above, in overcast light.
Below, in sunlight.

Now, while wildflowers often do rather well in overcast light
(at least for photographing closeups),
take a look at this nice but not terribly distinctive view of arrowleaf balsamroot flowers (balsamorhiza sagittata) in overcast light:

And compare it with this:

Arrowleaf balsamroot was growing everywhere in Capitol Reef.
Another year, I will try to get down there when the orchards at Fruita are all in bloom!

Culture Vulture in the Red Rocks

Of course, since this was a Day Off,
I had to stop to see the local historic sites
(as well as scenic views).
So, I went to the Anasazi State Park Museum in Boulder.
The museum is nicely done, exhibits well labeled,
and they have an interesting house/storage complex
reproduced outside (above),
which I had fun poking about in until I banged my head
on the low lintel.
And I am only 5'2".
I don't see why the Anasazi, if they were really about 5'4"
(as the museum exhibits claimed),
didn't make their doorways a tad bit higher.
Aside from a bit of a whump, no damage done.

A bit less perilous, back at Capitol Reef in the Fruita area,
are the late 19th century Mormon pioneer exhibits,
like this blacksmith shop-turned tractor-shed.
It's fenced off so you can only see inside,
not explore
(but I guess it prevents unwary visitors from whacking themselves
on a horseshoe-adorned ceiling beam).

And just a bit down the road in one of the historic Mormon homesteads some enterprising person was selling freshly baked miniature pies.
Strawberry rhubarb! Yum!

Burr Trail Road to Boulder

Spectacular views!

Views of the Strike Valley

Though it was overcast for much of my drive down the Strike Valley,
the scenery was still incredible,
and the cloudscapes were also wonderful,
and it certainly made it interesting,
wondering where the sun would spotlight next.
The road was a bit washboard-y,
but perfectly passable to regular vehicles--
if you didn't mind driving 5 mph on some spots.
(I wouldn't try it when it was raining, though.)

After about 15 miles or so of unpaved road,
there is a connecting road (also dirt)
that turns west and goes up over the Waterpocket Fold,
across the Escalante Grand Staircase,
into the town of Boulder.
It's quite a drive.

Flocks of phlox

Above is a typical desert "meadow".
The flowers are growing thickly,
but not so thickly that a photo of the group is very interesting.
Add to that the flat, overcast light for much of the morning,
and I mostly went with flower closeups.
(Though my camera does a decent job with flower closeups,
the wind was blowing,
and so I took half a dozen of each view just to make sure I got one where the flower stayed steady and thus was in focus-- which added up to a LOT of pictures.)
here is a view of Stanisbury phlox (phlox stanisburyi):

A bit further up the road I saw this flower,
which I think is cushion phlox
(phlox pulvinata):

More Wildflowers

This one is desert paintbrush
(castilleja chromosa)- there was a lot of this.
Also tons of penstemon.
This is probably desert penstemon
(penstemon pseudospectabilis).
It was mostly bright pink,
very pretty, even on an overcast morning.

There were also vales dotted with these desert primroses,
some variety of the oenothera species--
not sure if it was the birdcage primrose or another:

And then, to my total joy,
I saw claret cup cacti as well (echinocereus triglochidiatus).
These are my FAVORITE cacti,
probably my favorite flowers.

No doubt, mid May is the time to go wildflower-looking
in southern Utah!

Wildflower Identification Attempts

I took a trip down to Capitol Reef NP the other day,
to satisfy my red-rock cravings.
I had not specifically thought about it being wildflower season
down in southern Utah,
but it most definitely was.
I drove along the Strike Valley road parallel to the Waterpocket Fold.
I had a glorious time and took lots and lots of photos.
I had a lot of fun on site with my wildflower book,
however, I am not sure I have identified them all correctly.

There's this stuff that was growing in a bush clump about 1 foot high.
At first I thought it might be shepherd's purse,
and I puzzled between that, and speedwells, and a couple of others,
but none fit.
My Audubon book for the Western US finally came up with "spectacle pod",
(dimorphocarpa wislenzii).

This next one threw me a bit because it is yellow,
and at first all I could find were the desert mariposa lily varieties,
which are orange.
But the yellow one is related:
yellow mariposa lily
(calochortus luteus).

This next one is some kind of globemallow
but I'm not sure if it is a desert globemallow
(sphaleracea ambigua)
or some other related variety--
it might be scarlet globemallow
(sphaeralcea coccinea).

This last one I simply can't find.
I'm sure it's some kind of milkweed (asclepias)
but I can't be sure what variety.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


One of the perks of being an aunt is to dote on one's nieces and nephews.
This particular niece, the Rabbit,
looks exactly like her mother did 29 years ago--
minus the binkie in her mouth.
She is a most determined little soul and will NOT give up her binkie.
I sat with them all in church today and the Rabbit sat on my lap,
for most of the service, as good as gold.
Then we all went over to my brother's house for lunch,
and the Rabbit discovered that she loves olives:

Later, as we gathered in the living room to sing hymns together,
with my eldest nephew playing the piano,
the Rabbit decided to add some treble accompaniment:

This picture of the Rabbit and her mother is also a favorite for expression
(don't know why it's a bit overexposed, though.)
The Rabbit is not a bit camera shy.
She smiles widely and happily whenever I bring the camera out.

I am grateful for such a jolly Sunday!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


These girls love their cousin!

Both Roo and Rabbit got packed around Goblin Valley
and Little Wild Horse Canyon,
mostly by cousin Jesse,
but also by anyone else who would carry them.
Roo loved being swung by her arms,
and Rabbit was very pleased to ride piggyback
on Benjamin's shoulders.

Two Sisters

My sister Birrd & I took her kids to Goblin Valley yesterday.
Their cousin Jesse went with us-- just days home from his mission.
He is great with kids,
and Birrd's girls both love him.
He carried them all over the place and helped keep them happy.
This is one of my favorite pictures of them--
not just Jesse being Very Helpful,
but also the difference in personality between Roo, age 4,
and Rabbit, age 2.
Roo gets in a tight spot and wants to be carried.
Rabbit intrepidly wants to climb and slide.
Look at their faces on the photo enlargement and see.
It will be interesting to see how these two sisters interact in future years as they continue to grow up.