Trey Smith's blog

Posted Mon 2013-04-22 07:48

Joshua Tree Bloom in Mojave National Preserve

Sabrina and I recently visited Mojave National Preserve to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It was a quick weekend getaway and the timing was right to see this year's record bloom of Joshua trees. I thought I would share a few pictures. Click any photo to see a larger version.


Sabrina enjoying a Joshua tree bloom


Cima Volcanic Field cinder cones and lava flow from the air

In February 2011, I was really lucky and happened to overfly Cima Volcanic Field while on a commercial flight from Chicago to L.A. It's a set of 40 cinder cones and associated lava flows 7.6 million years old, a part of the Basin and Range geological province in the American Southwest.

I took some photos from the plane and used Google Earth to figure out what I had been looking at when I got home. On this trip, I got to visit some of the spots in my photo, and it was fun to make the connection.


Cima Volcanic Field, Joshua tree and creosote bushes in foreground


Linking the aerial and ground photos of the volcanic field

The ground-level photo was taken from a wash that runs along the edge of the lava flow. I marked the point where I took it from in the aerial photo with a camera icon and a yellow shape showing the approximate field of view.

The escarpment (cliff) running across the ground photo is the edge of the lava flow, still looking steep and fresh after millions of years. You can see two cinder cones marked A and B that appear in both photos (the shape of cinder cone A is hard to make out in the aerial photo due to the shadow of a passing cloud).


Beavertail cactus bloom full of beetles

We saw several beavertail cactus blooms that were swarming with little beetles. Maybe mating swarms of blister beetles?


Ivanpah Solar Project solar thermal energy tower and heliostats

Between our hotel in Primm, Nevada and the National Preserve, we drove by some really crazy-looking architecture in the desert that looked kind of like air traffic control towers without an airport. Eventually I realized it must be a solar power plant. Turns out it was the Ivanpah Solar Project, the largest solar thermal project under construction in the world.

In the photo you can actually see the beams of light from the heliostats illuminating dust in the air and coming together in a focus like the Death Star's planet-killing raygun. Interesting that they were mostly not focused on the thermal energy tower, which seems not to be operational yet. Anyway, pretty cool!

If you like these photos, you can also view my trip album.

Category: travel