Monday, March 14, 2016

Rhyolite, Nevada, A Glimpse Back in Time



 Foundations from a by-gone era


What brings about the feel of the old west more than standing alone among the ruins of a once prosperous mining town surrounded by colorful mountains that have seen their share of gold?  As a gentle breeze moves across my face, I can close my eyes and almost hear the sounds of 10,000 residents coming and going from the numerous salons, restaurants and large school house. 


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 Rhyolite is one of my favorite ghost towns to wander through and explore because most of the structures are well preserved and still standing tall against the colorful mountains. Also, Rhyolite just happens to be located slightly off the road on the way to the eastern entrance of Death Valley National Park.  


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In 1904, two prospectors Shorty Harris and E. L. Cross happened upon a hill with so much quartz that it was "just full of free gold".  This area was only five miles from the Beatty Ranch which evolved into the small desert town of Beatty and is one of the last outposts for supplies before entering Death Valley from the east.  One of the first mining camps was called Bullfrog and soon the rush was on! A town site was laid out nearby named Rhyolite due to all the silica-rich volcanic rock in the area. 


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Rhyolite was one of those boom towns that grew almost over night with saloons, restaurants, boardinghouses and by 1906 Countess Morajeski opened the Alaska Glacier Ice Cream Parlor!  


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The John S. Cook & Co. Bank building was 3 stories tall.


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The Bank cost $90,000 to build and had a safe that could hold one million dollars in coin. 


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Rhyolite two story school house and large auditorium with enough space for 250 children.


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The HD & LD Porter Store that sold everything a mining town could need, their slogan was
"We handle all things but whiskey".


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In the distance is the Las Vegas and Tonopah Train Depot.


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Rhyolite Jail House and the stories it might hold! 


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 The town had a pretty prosperous "red light district", drawing the ladies from larger cities like San Francisco.  


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Times were good for Rhyolite until the financial panic of 1907, banks began to fail and the mines started shutting down. 


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 Thus began the demise of Rhyolite, businesses slowly closed their doors and the population dwindled down from the 10,000 to just 611 residents. 


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Today, Rhyolite stands as historical testament of a by-gone era that was once a prosperous mining town in rural Nevada.  


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What a privilege it is to wander around and admire the remains of buildings that refuse to succumb to the harsh desert conditions.
        




For additional information:

http://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/historyculture/rhyolite-ghost-town.htm


No images on this blog are within Public Domain.






With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

 All rights reserved, world-wide and images protected by Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). All photography, graphics, text, design, and content is copyrighted by Bonnie Rannald and should not be copied, down-loaded, transferred and re-created in any way without the express consent, in writing to Bonnie Rannald. For information on Bonnie Rannald licensed, right-managed images, please submit a written request.


"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"


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Many of these images are available on our website.
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

2016 Death Valley Wildflowers in Higher Elevations

 
 

Part 3, Highlighting the Super Bloom North of Furnace Creek


Death Valley harbors one of the most extreme environments on planet Earth, however when the conditions are just right, nature thrives.  Thus was the case this February in 2016 when El Niño brought enough rain and at the best time for numerous wildflower seeds that have been lying dormant for years to germinate and produce a Super Bloom.  I was fortunate to travel to Death Valley during this rare event for a photo shoot of the wildflowers.  On Part 1 of my Blog Post, I highlighted the various locations where the flowers were blooming from the Badwater Road to the Beatty Cut-off Road.  In Part 2, I focused on the individual flowers that were in bloom in the southern part of Death Valley National Park.  


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 In Part 3 of my Death Valley Wildflower Super Bloom blog post, I will focus on a number of flowers that I found in the higher elevations.  


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Death Valley has elevations reaching from the lowest extremes at Badwater Basin, 279 feet (85 m) below sea level, to  Mount Whitney which rises to 14,505 feet (4,421 m) in altitude.  During my photo-explorations for the wildflowers at the higher elevations, I only reached heights between 1,000 feet (304.8) and 4,950 feet (1,510 m) above sea level.

After departing the Furnace Creek area and the fields of Desert Gold that Death Valley is famous for, I traveled up Highway 190 to where the bright colors of Golden Evening Primrose began to accent the roadside. 


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  Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) is also known as the Easter egg flower with its bright yellow cups.  Blooming in early spring, its delicate fragrance adds a gentle touch to the harsh environment. 


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Like with an artist's palette of color, lavender and purples of Caltha-Leaved Phacelia (Phacelia calthiflora) grow along with the Golden Evening Primrose.


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  A member of the Boraginaceae family these bell shaped flowers grow in the mid-range altitudes but below 3281 feet (1,000 m). 


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 The beauty of the Caltha-Leaved Phacelia must be enjoyed from a distance, because as with the Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) contact with the hairs may result in a skin rash similar to poison ivy.  


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Trekking back through a wash reveals delicate, tiny white flowers of Cryptantha. 


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 This plant is related to the "Forget-Me-Not" in the Boraginaceae family and also known as the Popcorn flower due to the flowers growing in clusters like the popcorn snack. 


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Sheltered by rocky depressions in the wash are a number of Desert Five-Spot flowers in various stages of opening. 


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 Growing below 4,000 feet (1219.2 m), the flower petals are only open in the afternoon and close at night. 


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 A member of the Mallow family, Malvaceae, this flower is also known as the Lantern Flower, for how it resembles a glowing lantern when light passes through its delicate petals.  


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Growing conditions for the 2016 wildflower season were just perfect for the Lesser Mohavea (Mohavea breviflora) to thrive.


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 Usually considered a "belly flower" since it grows so close to the ground, many of these plants were growing like small bushes.  The Lesser Mohavea is also known as the golden desert snap-dragon. 


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Much to my delight among all the 20 different species of wildflowers that were in bloom, some Creosote Bushes were just starting to flower.  Five petal yellow flowers and small fuzzy seeds make this bush stand out against the Mojave Desert landscape. Also known as Greasewood, this plant may live from 30 to 90 years of age.


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My timing was just about perfect for the 2016 Super Bloom and catching as many different flower plants as I did.  I have since learned that rising temperatures and a vicious wind storm have taken their toll on many of the wildflowers that I was able to photograph.  Most of the remaining wildflowers are found in the higher elevations or in sheltered canyons.  What a thrill to be out in a huge natural garden enjoying the fragrance and colors in one of the most inhospitable places on the globe. Follow my Blog and check back often to see where my next photo-adventure will take me.   

 
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No images on this blog are within Public Domain.






With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

 All rights reserved, world-wide and images protected by Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). All photography, graphics, text, design, and content is copyrighted by Bonnie Rannald and should not be copied, down-loaded, transferred and re-created in any way without the express consent, in writing to Bonnie Rannald. For information on Bonnie Rannald licensed, right-managed images, please submit a written request.


"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"


Follow this blog for upcoming post!
Photos Make Great Gifts!
Many of these images are available on our website.
We now offer Gift Certificates and Digital Downloads in addition to the
"Off The Wall" custom matted and framed images.





Sunday, March 6, 2016

2016 Death Valley Wildflowers, Badwater Road



Highlights of Super Bloom from the Lower Elevations




 What better time for a nature photographer to be in a national park than during a rare super bloom of wildflowers.  Thus was my experience during February 2016 when I traveled to Death Valley National Park to photograph the 20 species of desert wildflowers in different stages of bloom.  An El Niño weather pattern has been bringing more rain and snow to the American West.  When the rains come more evenly spaced during the winter and spring, flower seeds that have been lying dormant for years will spring to life.  This rare occurrence of multiple flowers blooming at around the same time in Death Valley has been coined a “Super Bloom”.

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 In my first blog post "2016 Death Valley Wildflower Super Bloom", I highlighted the locations where the flowers were growing in the largest numbers.  On Part 2 of 3, I will focus on some of my favorite individual flowers that caught my attention.

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The first wildflowers to bloom were in the southern part of Death Valley, where the elevation is lowest, 279 feet (85 m) below sea level and the temperatures are warmer.  Along the Badwater Road and as far as the eyes could see were fields of Desert Gold.

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The Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) is an annual that grows on a tall, branching stalk and is commonly known as the Desert Sunflower.  The flowers can last from February to May with sufficient rainfall.

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 Mixed in with the Desert Gold was the more subtle crème color of Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis). 


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Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis) is an annual white to pink flower with dark brown center and stigma that hangs out beyond the petals.  It blooms in early spring, however at this early date in February, many of the Brown-eyed Evening Primrose flowers had already begun to bolt. 

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Purple Notchleaf Phacelia flowers were showing well on the west side of Badwater Road.

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This purple to lavender annual desert flower has several different names.  In the Borage family, it is also known as wild heliotrope.

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It is also known as Scorpionweed due to the flower growing in a curl that resembles a scorpion’s tail. As beautiful as the Purple Notchleaf Phacelia is, it is best enjoyed from a safe distance because physical contact may result in a rash or contact dermatitis.   So far, I have not developed any skin problems while photographing this flower.

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To really enjoy the wildflowers one must take a walk along a wash and look closely at all the different types of flowers.  However, as the park rangers remind us, please be careful not to step on any of the plants.

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 While I was busy focusing on a nice group of purple Phacelia, I just happened to notice one of the more subtle flowers in Death Valley, the small white blooms of Gravel Ghost!

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The Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla) is in the dandelion family and for such a small flower; it has the most wonderful fragrance of cinnamon vanilla spice.  It is also known as the Parachute Plant because the flowers seem to float in the breeze.

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An accent of purple at ground level catches my eye and the Purple Mat (Nama demissum) is growing well on the east side of Badwater Road.

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 Purple Mat is also known as a "Belly flower" because you must get down on your belly to enjoy its beauty.
Many desert plants have developed unique adaptations to exist in such extreme environments and keeping a low profile helps to prevent the Purple Mat from drying out in the hot sun.

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This concludes Part 2 of my Death Valley Super Bloom post where I have highlighted a few of the flowers in the southern part of the Park.  On Part 3, I will focus on the flowers that I found in the higher elevations.  So follow my Blog and check back to see what's blooming. 

http://www.bonnierannald.com






No images on this blog are within Public Domain.






With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.

 All rights reserved, world-wide and images protected by Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). All photography, graphics, text, design, and content is copyrighted by Bonnie Rannald and should not be copied, down-loaded, transferred and re-created in any way without the express consent, in writing to Bonnie Rannald. For information on Bonnie Rannald licensed, right-managed images, please submit a written request.


"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"


Follow this blog for upcoming post!
Photos Make Great Gifts!
Many of these images are available on our website.
We now offer Gift Certificates and Digital Downloads in addition to the
"Off The Wall" custom matted and framed images.