Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm about a week behind in my posting.  Hard to find fast WiFi out in the wide open spaces of the West.  These images are from our first taste of Death Valley driving from Lone Pine CA to Beatty NV.  This red volcanic canyon runs into the west side of Saline Valley, one of the two valleys in Death Valley.  The colors were spectacular.  It seemed as if the volcanic rock had been squirted out of a tube of cadmium red deep.  

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Traveling from Bridgeport south to the little town of Lone Pine the Sierras towered off to the west. We kept expecting them to run out. Lone Pine turned out to be a two night stop.  We drove just out of town to the west and climbed into the Alabama Hills spread out below Mount Whitney.  Turns out the Alabama Hills were discovered by Hollywood years ago and have been used for movies regularly.  It seems that the Lone Ranger rode out of these hills during his weekly opening.  We enjoyed painting and hiking.  
Ran in to our first barrel cactus in the area.  Fun to see and amazing that we could see 14000' high mountains at the same time.  We never did actually see the very top of Mount Whitney due to constant cloud cover.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Looking west out over Sacramento and beyond the Pacific. I've always been interested in mountains.  I had forgotten how much.  Traveling from Carson City to Sacramento was all about mountains.  We reached passes around 8000 feet and fortunately no falling snow.  I was surprised by how many passes in the Sierra Nevadas are closed for the winter.

Driving from Sacramento to Bishop CA back on the east side of the Sierras the dry climate and empty spaces returned. I wonder how much you would have to pay to own this beautiful ranch. California real estate is incredibly expensive.
Mono Lake, a million year plus old lake, is a salty inland sea that has been drastically lowered due to diversion of water to LA.  Before the diversion millions of ducks used the lake during migration. Geologically very interesting with tuffa towers exposed due to the lower levels of water.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It seems so many miles ago when we drove across Nevada, I guess about a week ago.  Driving from Ely to Carson City is an endless rotation of vistas and back down to the valleys.  Climbing over passes every forty miles or so.  What incredible blue skies and clear air.  The west is so wonderfully empty.
This is Sand Mountain just east of Fallon, Nevada.  Looking in the opposite direction is a huge salt flat.
South of Fallon Annie and I spent the day exploring the ruins of Fort Churchill.  It was built in the same rectangular fashion as the other forts that we have visited.  The buildings  are controlled by the available material, in this case adobe.  

The Carson River ran near the Fort and through Carson City and became an important subject for art and exploration during our delightful weekend stay with Marianne and Aaron.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sorry about no images.  Seems that this Blogger sight is not uploading lately.  We are fine, spending the day next to Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower states, 14492 feet. Going to stop here in Lone Pine for a couple of days and paint.  I will keep trying to upload images. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nevada is a mining state. We visited these charcoal kilns south of Ely.  Built in 1870 by Italian craftsmen they are monuments to rock laying.  Each kiln is about 30 feet high and 28 feet wide. When operational they were filled with wood, first through the bottom door and then by way of a ramp built on the back hill side through the second level door.  Each kiln would hold approximately 5 to 6 acres of wood from the surrounding hills, cedar and pinyon pine.  The wood was burned for days.  Draft was controlled by closing and unclosing side vents according to the color of the smoke.  The charcoal was used for smelting silver from the regions mines.  The demand created clear cut land up to 35 miles in radius from the kilns.  I'm glad it has grown back. I was humbled by  the exactness and quality of the stone work.

The interiors of the kilns created an echo chamber that amplified the sounds of foot steps and voices.  The bottom doors faced north.  The kilns fit so beautifully into the environment.  Truly works of art.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

On our way back from Lava Hot Springs to Twin Falls we took a side trip to American Falls. This old building is the subject of one of my first paintings.  I don't know the history of this building.  American Falls dam just above here required the moving of the town sometime early in the 1900's.  I need to do some more research.  A grain elevator stands as a reminder of the past in the middle of the reservoir.
About 10 miles below American Falls is a Snake River lava canyon.  Very wild and rugged.  The Oregon Trail crossed the river in this area.  I use to fish for trout in this area on the opening day of fishing season with my father.  The area is also called Massacre Rock because of a narrow passage of rock that the wagons had to pass through. An unfortunate wagon caravan was attacked by native americans in the pass.  

Thursday, January 8, 2009

We took a little side trip and spent two nights in Lava Hot Springs Idaho, Riverside Hotel built in 1914.  Pool side was uncrowded, and yes the water was warm.
The snow melted in Twin Falls but Annie could still see snow on the mountains 70 miles to the north.  We were pulled in that direction on a sunny bright day.  Southern Idaho is a huge flat volcanic flow thousands of feet thick.  The norther rockies rise up on the northern edge.  We visited the Craters of the Moon National Monument where the most recent lava flows have erupted.  Reminds me of the Big Island in Hawaii only more snow.  The image with the two fence posts is the world famous fly fishing stream, Silver Creek.  I think the fishing may have been a little slow, I didn't really find out. Lots of room in Idaho.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I received this fine photo from 'oldog' recently.  Apparently he has visited Miracle Hot Springs also. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

The top image is the canyon below Twin Falls and then Shoshone Falls.  These large drops in the Snake River (212 feet for Shoshone) were gouged out by the Bonneville Lake Floods about 15000 years ago.  A glacial finger broke and allowed the lake to fill this canyon and gouge it an estimated 6 times deeper.  Use to play here as a child, guess I still am.

Three sketches from the local area. The lava rocks are magnified by the contrast in value with the snow.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!  It seems that 'old dog' is a little skeptical about the Idaho gators.  I can understand how they may seem a little unlikely.  I've added a more zoomed out image which shows the snow around the perimeter.  Maybe this will clear up any doubting dogs.  We have been out both yesterday and today working on location.  Will post the drawings soon.  The weather has warmed up momentarily and is melting the snow.  Back to the 20's tonight.