Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Valley of Fire

The Valley of Fire State Park is a complex maze of canyons.  Petroglyphs are abundant. The colors of the sandstone run from cadmium red deep to tinted naples yellow.  As you hike within the narrow walls of the red sandstone the reflective colors surround you and seem to turn the air red.

These are not ancient native american cliff dwellings but are interesting erosional patterns covering only about ten feet of rock wall.

Las Vegas

Outside of the city limits of Las Vegas are many interesting geological areas.  Red Rock National Monument and The Valley of Fire are both remnants from the red sand dunes that covered the southwest in the geological past.  The red sandstone erodes in a elaborate ways that echo their wind swept origins.
Red seems to be the color.  We spotted this wild red horse about 20 miles north of Boulder City.

Red Rock National Monument

Monday, February 23, 2009

Death Valley

This will do it for now on Death Valley.  What an incredible winter destination.

I have no clue. Only in Nevada.


The two above are sketch book watercolors. This one is from just above the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV
These three are full sheet watercolors.  Watercolor lends itself to the desert light and subtle neutrals. It has been really enjoyable to set up and paint full sheets in a couple of hours. They do dry fast in this low humidity. The painting above is from the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA
Death Valley in the Black Mountains.
 Mojave Desert in California. 

Ash Meadow National Wildlife Preserve

East of Death Valley in Nevada natural warm water springs come pouring out of the ground after traveling a 1000 years underground from snow pack from the distant surrounding mountains. Remnant fish from the last time the valleys were filled with lakes remain in these springs.  The pup fish, supported by their designation of 'endangered', caused this area to be taken back from private ownership (cotton fields and dairy cows) and protected as a National Wildlife Preserve. 
The pup fish are only about 2 inches long.  

Death Valley

Rumor has it that I am behind in my blogging. I will try to catch up, no promises, I do have my priorities.  Going back to Death Valley, I had already forgotten how rugged it is.  These images were taken on a one way tourist loop road called Artists Palette.  I don't think we are finished with Death Valley.  We may revisit on this trip depending on the predicted bloom.  We have already planted the seed of an idea for returning next christmas break. Matt says he's in. 

Gator Alley

Old Dog has been sniffing around in Death Valley again. I sure hope these gators are not eating any of the endangered pup fish.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Death Valley, Water

Death Valley is not totally dry.  A small stream flows just south of Stovepipe Dunes due to underlying bed rock forcing it to the surface.  We stopped and explored the area walking on the board walks in search of the Death Valley Pupfish.  These tiny fish are the last water residents of when Death Valley was filled by a lake.  They can handle extremely hot and salty water. I was not allowed to fish, something about them being endangered species.  We didn't even see any. The water doesn't stay on the surface for very long.  Evaporation reigns over Death Valley.  

Death Valley, Mosaic Canyon

A short drive up a gravel road out of Stovepipe ends at the mouth of Mosaic Canyon.  The trail leads up to a narrow cut in the canyon that is lined with marble.  It is amazing to see the wave pattern of water recorded in beautiful marble.

This close up is for all the geologists out there.  Death Valley is truly a geologists dream.
The canyon opens up to a hanging valley after about 1/2 a mile.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Death Valley Sunset

On our way back to Beatty after visiting Marble Canyon we stopped at the Stovepipe Sand Dunes.  It was one of those 30 minutes of magic that happen around sun set sometimes.

Just after the sun disappeared off the distant clouds this cold wind rose up from the valley below, blowing sand and moisture.  We didn't hang around out in the dunes to see how much sand could be moved in a short time.  By the time we had driven through the sand storm and up to the 3500' pass leading to Beatty we were hit by a hail storm with lightning. A change from 70 degrees to 37 degrees. Such extremes in Death Valley.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Death Valley lends itself to a multitude of ways of looking.  I'm drawn to the great vistas and distances but at the same time flattened surfaces echo the same elements.