Friday, April 28, 2017

Scorpion VS. Grasshopper

Call me odd, but I love the strangeness of the desert.  

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California. 

High Falls through a Window of Ice

Grand Portage State Park, MN - Fascinating conditions right now at High Falls, thanks to the ice and snow storm we just had over the past couple of days.  Once again we are subjected to the beauty of winter!  Only it's not winter... right?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

April Whiteout!

Well, today was certainly an interesting weather day!  Following immediately after a 24+ hour period of freezing rain/sleet, we were hit with an intense snowfall all afternoon.  About 4 inches of new snow fell on top of the layer of accumulated sleet from the previous 24 hours.  Hard to believe that May is only a few days away!  In this photo a Minnesota Department of Transportation highway plow is clearing the way for traffic just before the Minnesota/Ontario border in Grand Portage.  

Bee Fly on Cholla Cactus

When we visited the Cholla Garden in Joshua Tree National Park it was literally buzzing with life.  There were thousands of native bees (and bee flies) all trying to take advantage of the blooming cacti.  We love bees so as you can imagine we loved seeing so many of them here.  We read that Joshua Tree has over 500 species of native bees!  Very cool :-)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Winter has returned (again)

Winter has returned yet again to northern Minnesota.  We are currently experiencing a weird mix of rain and sleet.  The forecast was calling for pretty significant ice accumulations but so far that hasn't happened (not in Grand Portage anyway).  I just went out for a short drive to check the conditions and see if there was any ice buildup on the trees anywhere (makes for GREAT photos!) but there was little to be found.  The roadways are more slushy than anything.  As always, our local plow crews are out making sure the roads are in the best shape possible considering the conditions!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mojave Desert Bloom

Woolly Daisy

Perhaps the coolest thing about my trip to California this spring was the desert bloom.  Thanks to a wet winter and spring the desert flowers were blooming like crazy everywhere!  Much of our visit to Joshua Tree was spent admiring the countless flowers that we came across while exploring the park.  It seemed like there was something fascinating and beautiful to see around every bend of every trail that we hiked!

Ocotillo Bloom

Blooming Barrel Cactus

Barrel cactus are so pretty, even without flowers!

Mojave Mound Cactus

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ocotillo and the Hexie Mountains

Driving south through Joshua Tree National Park the terrain transitions from the high Mojave Desert to the lower Sonoran Desert.  The vegetation also changes and as soon as you leave the Joshua Trees you come into the Cholla Cactus Garden and the Ocotillo Patch.  I found the Ocotillo to be a very fascinating plant.  We were lucky to see it while it was flowering.  The plant has beautiful blooms and is quite tall, some of the examples we saw were about 15 feet high.  According to an NPS interpretive sign, Ocotillo is able to shed and re-grow its leaves up to 5 times each year depending on the availability of water or lack thereof.  The desert is so fascinating!