February 17 & 18, 2016
Under darkening skies Bill and I took the curvy 9-mile Artists Drive loop before heading back to camp from our day of wildflowers. The rocky slopes looked like various flavors of assorted chocolates in the dim light.
Thursday morning the wind blown sand at Mesquite Dunes just about obliterated any view of the dunes. I couldn’t believe people were out walking into this. All my photos were taken through the windshield. We did return the next night just before sunset.
We also returned to Artists Drive under sunny skies and what a totally different view of these multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills. Artists Drive rises up to the top of an alluvial fan fed by a deep canyon cut into the Black Mountains.
A woman came up behind me and started taking pictures of me taking pictures. We only talked briefly as I was absorbed with the landscape.
She found better conversation with Bill as they both watched me focus on the flowers and view, the above looking west towards the valley and Panamint Range beyond. Most people visiting national parks are friendly and excited to be there.
Then just when you think the road is running the straight and narrow it suddenly cuts through these hills in hairpin turns making me glad it’s one-way and limited to vehicles less than 25 feet in length. I think Bill was a little worried when he drove it in the almost dark the night before, but was more scared when I drove through in the light. Could that be because I take photos while driving?
Five million years ago volcanic eruptions deposited ash and minerals on this landscape. Later these deposits were chemically altered by heat and water, with variable amounts of oxygen and other introduced elements. Oxidation produced red, pink and yellow from iron, purple manganese and green chlorite. Even though I’m an avid rock nut I didn’t feel the need to walk on and up to these amazing displays.
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