Sunday, March 6, 2016

Superbloom!

Normally Death Valley is a lifeless hellscape, beautiful mainly for its utter desolation. It's surrounded by the Black Mountains on one side and the Funeral Mountains on the other. It's basically a sunnier Mordor. But once in a great while, when the valley is pummeled by El NiƱo rains, the long dormant seeds beneath the cracked earth emerge...for a SUPERBLOOM!

Yesterday, Joe and I drove to Death Valley to take in this rare sight. Here is a selection of photos:

These are Desert Golds, the most common wildflower in Death Valley.

We thought this was a lot of flowers. We thought wrong...

Death and life, juxtaposed.

Pretty, but don't touch! This one will give you a skin rash. I'm glad I read the guide from the Info stand.

Hello, yellow.

This is a Desert Five-Spot.

A little cluster of Desert Stars.

The living dead.

Attractive humans!

My attempt to capture the salt flats ended up all watercolory.

The flowers were not our only adventure. On our drive in, we stopped at a gas station attached to the Alien Cathouse brothel. Yes, Alien Cathouse is its actual name. Don't believe me? Here is its website (NSFW, obviously). The sign for the brothel advertised "hot sauce." This was not a euphemism. The gas station had shelves and shelves of hot sauce. 

On our way out of Death Valley, we passed through Rhyolite, a ghost town full of crumbling buildings from the early 1900's. Then we stopped in Beatty for a bite to eat at the Sourdough Saloon, where we were approached by an old man with a curling mustache wearing a cowboy hat and a sheriff's badge. Unfortunately, he was not the real sheriff. He was, however, a professional cowboy reenactor, who told us all about a recent event he did involving the story of Virgil Earp, complete with "floozies" and "petticoats," which are apparently two different categories of women, though I don't quite understand the difference.

I'm a natural city-dweller, not outdoorsy in any way. I like being surrounded by people, events, noise. There's something disturbing about the desert, even though it is gorgeous--it's too quiet, too dead, and I get the impression that it would like to kill me, too. Nevertheless, I feel bad that I don't frequently take advantage of the natural world so close to me in Vegas, especially because it's so drastically different from the natural world I had access to in Chicago. I'm happy that I spent a day away from my computer screen, quite literally stopping to smell the flowers. It was lovely. 

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