April 30, 2016

UTAH : The San Juan River - Goosenecks State Park

View of the San Juan River from Goosenecks State Park.


Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Goosenecks State Park, Utah


Goosenecks State Park
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Goosenecks State Park is a state park in the U.S. state of Utah, overlooking a deep meander of the San Juan River. The park is located near the southern border of the state a short distance from Mexican Hat, Utah. Millions of years ago, the Monument Upwarp forced the river to carve incised meanders over 1,000 feet (300 m) deep as the surrounding landscape slowly rose in elevation. Eroded by water, wind, frost, and gravity, this is a classic location for observing incised meanders.

There are no developed hiking trails in the park, but the Honaker Trail, a few miles to the northwest, provides access to the San Juan River.


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April 26, 2016

MONTANA : Glacier Wildflowers - Indian Paint Brush


Indian Paint Brush

Indian Paint Brush, Glacier National Park, Montana


Wildflowers

National Park Service

There are few sights more beautiful than an avalanche slope or an alpine meadow aglow with the color of wildflowers amidst the backdrop of Glacier Park's towering peaks. Beargrass and fields of glacier lilies carpet the subalpine landscape. Ironically beargrass is not a grass and bears don't particularly like it. For the wildflower aficionado, the park offers nearly a thousand species. Subtle flowers like clematis or the chlorophyll-free pinesaps and Indian pipes are common in the lowlands. In late summer, purple asters paint the meadows between aspen groves on the east side. 

There is never a shortage of color during the brief growing season and nowhere is the season shorter than in the alpine zone. Here, wildflowers must reproduce under the most severe conditions. Extreme winds, cold nights, occasional snow squalls and intense ultraviolet light make the life of an alpine wildflower adventurous. But they cope well enough to light up the tundra every year through a variety of strategies. They are very small to counter the effects of desiccating winds. The diminutive size of these flowers is due to the plant's disproportionate investment in reproductive parts. To conserve moisture many are coated with waxy cuticle layers. Some have a ground-hugging basal rosette shape to absorb the radiant heat of the earth. Many have fine hairs to trap heat and diffuse the extreme ultraviolet light found at high elevations. Some grow in cushions, conserving moisture and warmth, forming a streamlined shape to counteract the wind. The flowers of these plants often are shaped like a parabola to concentrate the sun's warmth on their reproductive parts, or like a drooping bell to capture heat radiating from the earth. Some, like the butterwort, gather nutrients by consuming insects; bugs stick to their gummy leaves and are digested. Almost all alpine plants are perennials -- there simply isn't enough time or warmth for annuals to go through their entire life cycle.

Despite all these strategies to encourage flowering and seeding, it takes an exceptional year for seeds to mature and be spread to other areas. The back-up strategy for alpine flowers is vegetative reproduction. Genetically identical new plants sprout from the roots. 

As might be expected, the alpine zone harbors some Arctic relics left over from the ice ages. The harsh conditions of the alpine zone are similar to those on the edge of a receding glacier. Northern eyebright, three-flowered rush and false alphodel are examples of plants usually found in places like Greenland. Other plant species are adapted to the opposite conditions. Bicknell's geranium and rock harlequin remain as seeds for decades waiting for a fire to prepare the soil. After the burn they flower profusely for one or two growing seasons and then disappear until the next fire.


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April 21, 2016

UTAH / COLORADO : Hovenweep National Monument


Southwestern Colorado and Southeastern Utah, between Cortez, Colorado and Blanding, Utah


Hovenweep Castle, Montezuma County Colorado & San Juan County  Utah, USA

Hovenweep National Monument

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hovenweep National Monument is located on land in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah, between Cortez, Colorado and Blanding, Utah on the Cajon Mesa of the Great Sage Plain. Shallow tributaries run through the wide and deep canyons into the San Juan River.

Although Hovenweep National Monument is largely known for the six groups of Ancestral Puebloan villages, there is evidence of occupation by hunter-gatherers from 8,000 to 6,000 B.C. until about AD 200. Later, a succession of early puebloan cultures settled in the area and remained until the 14th century.

Hovenweep became a National Monument in 1923 and is administered by the National Park Service. In July 2014, the International Dark-Sky Association designated Hovenweep an International Dark Sky Park.


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April 18, 2016

MONTANA : Glacier Plants - Bromus sterilis

Bromus sterilis 



 Bromus sterilis (poaceae), Glacier National Park, Montana

The spikelets comprise lemmas with long tips that taper nearly imperceptibly into the apical awn.

Plants

National Park Service

Glacier National Park is home to at least 1,132 species of vascular plants (those containing vessels that conduct water and nutrients). There are 20 different tree species, 93 woody shrubs or vines, 88 annual or biennial plant species, and 804 types of perennial herbs. Included in these numbers are 127 non-native species. Besides vascular plants, the park also has at least 855 species of mosses and lichens. There are likely more than 200 species of fungi, but this group has not been as well-studied. Sixty-seven vascular and 42 non-vascular plant species found in Glacier Park are listed as "sensitive" by the State of Montana.

Glacier Park has 30 species that are "endemic" to the region, those with ranges limited exclusively to the northern Rocky Mountains. All but one of these occur in cold, open areas characteristic of harsh, post-glacial environments. Many are relics of the post-glacial age or occur here because the diverse combination of environmental conditions create unique micro-habitats. Three major North American watersheds arise from Glacier National Park (Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific). Two climate zones (Pacific Maritime and Prairie/Arctic) are separated by the Continental Divide. Biomes range from the lower elevation pacific cedar-hemlock forest to the high alpine tundra. These life zones, separated along an altitudinal gradient, contain a range of biodiversity unmatched in the Northern Rockies.

Plant species in Glacier Park have affinities with four major floristic provinces: (1) Cordilleran [49%], including the southern and central Rocky Mountains as well as the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest; (2) Boreal [39%], similar to what one would find across Canada; (3) Arctic-Alpine [10%]; and (4) a few representatives from the Great Plains [1%].

Moist, temperate conditions on the west side of Glacier Park have allowed the eastern-most extension of Pacific cedar-hemlock forest to develop in the Lake McDonald Valley. Moisture from the Pacific coast condenses during its rise to the Continental Divide. Rainfall ranges from an average of 23 inches in the park's driest locations along the northeast and northwest edges of the park to 30 inches at West Glacier. Precipitation in excess of 100 inches may fall in isolated cirques near the Continental Divide.

On the east side of the Park, dry chinook winds sculpt trees along the high ridges while calmer conditions prevail in the aspen groves below. The difference in rainfall is not extreme, but the desiccating winds have made the plant communities very different on the east side. The dark, ancient cedar/hemlock forests of the west side are a stark contrast to the more open forests, glades and grasslands of the east side. Plant varieties change somewhat north to south as well because the north half of the Park is in the rainshadow of the Whitefish Range. The cedar-hemlocks give way to drier Douglas fir and lodgepole pine forests in the North Fork, Flathead River drainage.

The Park's plant cover is roughly 33% moist coniferous forest, 29% barren or sparsely vegetated rock/snow/ice, 16% dry coniferous forest, 8% dry meadow and prairie, 6% deciduous forest (primarily aspen and black cottonwood), 5% wet meadow or fen, and 3% lake surface water (with aquatic plants occurring in the shallower zones).


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April 16, 2016

NEW MEXICO : A dog & A Pottery - Pueblo de Taos

Classic Image


 A dog and Southwest Indian Pottery - Taos Pueblo, New Mexico


Taos Pueblo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Taos Pueblo (or Pueblo de Taos) is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It lies about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico, USA. The pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. This has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Taos Pueblo is a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos, whose people speak two variants of the Tanoan language. The Taos community is known for being one of the most private, secretive, and conservative pueblos. A reservation of 95,000 acres (38,000 ha) is attached to the pueblo, and about 4,500 people live in this area.


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April 12, 2016

MONTANA : Glacier Plants - Douglas Fir Cone


Douglas Fir Cone

 Douglas Fir Cone, Glacier National Park, Montana

Plants

National Park Service

Glacier National Park is home to at least 1,132 species of vascular plants (those containing vessels that conduct water and nutrients). There are 20 different tree species, 93 woody shrubs or vines, 88 annual or biennial plant species, and 804 types of perennial herbs. Included in these numbers are 127 non-native species. Besides vascular plants, the park also has at least 855 species of mosses and lichens. There are likely more than 200 species of fungi, but this group has not been as well-studied. Sixty-seven vascular and 42 non-vascular plant species found in Glacier Park are listed as "sensitive" by the State of Montana.

Glacier Park has 30 species that are "endemic" to the region, those with ranges limited exclusively to the northern Rocky Mountains. All but one of these occur in cold, open areas characteristic of harsh, post-glacial environments. Many are relics of the post-glacial age or occur here because the diverse combination of environmental conditions create unique micro-habitats. Three major North American watersheds arise from Glacier National Park (Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific). Two climate zones (Pacific Maritime and Prairie/Arctic) are separated by the Continental Divide. Biomes range from the lower elevation pacific cedar-hemlock forest to the high alpine tundra. These life zones, separated along an altitudinal gradient, contain a range of biodiversity unmatched in the Northern Rockies.

Plant species in Glacier Park have affinities with four major floristic provinces: (1) Cordilleran [49%], including the southern and central Rocky Mountains as well as the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest; (2) Boreal [39%], similar to what one would find across Canada; (3) Arctic-Alpine [10%]; and (4) a few representatives from the Great Plains [1%].

Moist, temperate conditions on the west side of Glacier Park have allowed the eastern-most extension of Pacific cedar-hemlock forest to develop in the Lake McDonald Valley. Moisture from the Pacific coast condenses during its rise to the Continental Divide. Rainfall ranges from an average of 23 inches in the park's driest locations along the northeast and northwest edges of the park to 30 inches at West Glacier. Precipitation in excess of 100 inches may fall in isolated cirques near the Continental Divide.

On the east side of the Park, dry chinook winds sculpt trees along the high ridges while calmer conditions prevail in the aspen groves below. The difference in rainfall is not extreme, but the desiccating winds have made the plant communities very different on the east side. The dark, ancient cedar/hemlock forests of the west side are a stark contrast to the more open forests, glades and grasslands of the east side. Plant varieties change somewhat north to south as well because the north half of the Park is in the rainshadow of the Whitefish Range. The cedar-hemlocks give way to drier Douglas fir and lodgepole pine forests in the North Fork, Flathead River drainage.

The Park's plant cover is roughly 33% moist coniferous forest, 29% barren or sparsely vegetated rock/snow/ice, 16% dry coniferous forest, 8% dry meadow and prairie, 6% deciduous forest (primarily aspen and black cottonwood), 5% wet meadow or fen, and 3% lake surface water (with aquatic plants occurring in the shallower zones).


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April 10, 2016

MONTANA : Glacier Wildflowers - Mountain Hollyhock


Mountain Hollyhock

Mountain Hollyhock, Glacier National Park, Montana


Wildflowers

National Park Service

There are few sights more beautiful than an avalanche slope or an alpine meadow aglow with the color of wildflowers amidst the backdrop of Glacier Park's towering peaks. Beargrass and fields of glacier lilies carpet the subalpine landscape. Ironically beargrass is not a grass and bears don't particularly like it. For the wildflower aficionado, the park offers nearly a thousand species. Subtle flowers like clematis or the chlorophyll-free pinesaps and Indian pipes are common in the lowlands. In late summer, purple asters paint the meadows between aspen groves on the east side. 

There is never a shortage of color during the brief growing season and nowhere is the season shorter than in the alpine zone. Here, wildflowers must reproduce under the most severe conditions. Extreme winds, cold nights, occasional snow squalls and intense ultraviolet light make the life of an alpine wildflower adventurous. But they cope well enough to light up the tundra every year through a variety of strategies. They are very small to counter the effects of desiccating winds. The diminutive size of these flowers is due to the plant's disproportionate investment in reproductive parts. To conserve moisture many are coated with waxy cuticle layers. Some have a ground-hugging basal rosette shape to absorb the radiant heat of the earth. Many have fine hairs to trap heat and diffuse the extreme ultraviolet light found at high elevations. Some grow in cushions, conserving moisture and warmth, forming a streamlined shape to counteract the wind. The flowers of these plants often are shaped like a parabola to concentrate the sun's warmth on their reproductive parts, or like a drooping bell to capture heat radiating from the earth. Some, like the butterwort, gather nutrients by consuming insects; bugs stick to their gummy leaves and are digested. Almost all alpine plants are perennials -- there simply isn't enough time or warmth for annuals to go through their entire life cycle.

Despite all these strategies to encourage flowering and seeding, it takes an exceptional year for seeds to mature and be spread to other areas. The back-up strategy for alpine flowers is vegetative reproduction. Genetically identical new plants sprout from the roots. 

As might be expected, the alpine zone harbors some Arctic relics left over from the ice ages. The harsh conditions of the alpine zone are similar to those on the edge of a receding glacier. Northern eyebright, three-flowered rush and false alphodel are examples of plants usually found in places like Greenland. Other plant species are adapted to the opposite conditions. Bicknell's geranium and rock harlequin remain as seeds for decades waiting for a fire to prepare the soil. After the burn they flower profusely for one or two growing seasons and then disappear until the next fire.


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April 7, 2016

MONTANA : Glacier Wildflowers - Beargrass


Wildflowers of Beargrass

Beargrass Blooms in Glacier National Park, Montana

Beargrass

National Park Service

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is a common wildflower found in Glacier National Park and this year has produced prolific blossoms, especially near park headquarters on the west-side of the park. 

Beargrass is not a grass, but a member of the Melanthiaceae family (recently split from the lily family). The plant is native to Montana, but can also be found in subalpine meadows and coastal mountains throughout the Pacific Northwest, extending from British Columbia to northern California and eastward to Alberta and northwestern Wyoming. Beargrass can grow up to five feet in height with long and wiry, grass-like basal leaves at the base of the stalk and a cluster of small, dense white flowers at the top. Bears do not eat the plant, but they will use leaves as denning material. Sheep, deer, elk, and goats are known to eat beargrass. 

Beargrass can bloom whenever climatic conditions are ideal, not necessarily every seven years as common myth suggests. A single plant may have numerous basal rosettes on a common root system. Each rosette will bloom only once. Factors for abundant plant blooming include ideal amounts of spring rainfall and moisture present in the soil. While some beargrass can be found blooming every year, park managers note that mass blossoming of beargrass typically occurs every five to ten years in Glacier National Park. Blooming can begin in late May in lower elevations and continue into August in the high country. 

The plant was first called beargrass by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, 19th century explorers of western America. At that time "Bear grass" was a common name for yucca (commonly called soapweed today), which bears a superficial resemblance to beargrass. Native Americans have used beargrass leaves for basket weaving and roots were used to treat injuries. Other common names for this plant include bear lily, pine lily, elk grass, squaw grass, and turkeybeard. 

Visitors are encouraged to experience the abundance of beargrass in Glacier National Park this year, but are reminded that picking flowers or collecting plants is prohibited within the park.


Glacier National Park
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April 2, 2016

TOKYO : Cherry Blossom! - 神田淡路町


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There is just one standing cherry blossom on the corner of Kanda Awajicho,  Tokyo

神田淡路町の角にひっそりの一本の桜の木。。。Cherry Blossom!

Cherry blossom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Hanami" is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming sakura or ume tree. The custom is said to have started during the Nara Period (710–794) when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning. But by the Heian Period (794–1185), cherry blossoms came to attract more attention and hanami was synonymous with sakura. From then on, in both waka and haiku, "flowers" (花 hana?) meant "cherry blossoms". The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period, to the common people as well. Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this. Under the sakura trees, people had lunch and drank sake in cheerful feasts.

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