January 13, 2019 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Date Palm Shadows
Date Palm Shadows

Imperial Valley of California (and a bit of Arizona)

A little change of pace for this blog entry, a little local info. The map below, from Google Earth, shows the boundaries of the Imperial Valley, from the source of it’s life giving water, the Colorado River on the far right of the map, to the final downstream end of the water flow in the Salton Sea, where all the salt laden drainage from the agricultural fields ends up.

Imperial Valley Map
Imperial Valley Map

The map below shows the detail of the Map Inset from the top map and depicts the area where I am staying, and exploring, this winter, truly just a tiny portion of the Imperial Valley.

Imperial Valley Map
Imperial Valley Map

The map below, shows detail from the Map Insert of the map above, and depicts the dam complex where the mighty Colorado River is diverted to the All -American Canal and the two other canals that distribute water to the agricultural fields of the valley.

Imperial Dam Complex Map
Imperial Dam Complex Map
All-American Canal
All-American Canal

This shot was taken just a half mile from where I am camped and shows the volume of water diverted towards the fields in California.

Ringneck Ducks on the All-American Canal
Ringneck Ducks on the All-American Canal

The canal is the only place I have found large numbers of ducks in the area. These are Ringnecks, but I have also found Mallards, Buffleheads, Northern Shovelers, and Canvasbacks.

Shades of Green
Shades of Green

Windblown spray from the irrigation system tints the greens of a field of salad greens.

Salad Makings
Salad Makings

The text below was gathered from various websites. The Bloomberg article I found quite enlightening.

Although this region is in the Colorado Desert section of the Sonoran Desert, with high temperatures and low average rainfall of 3 inches (76 mm) per year, the economy is heavily based on agriculture due to irrigation, which is supplied wholly from the Colorado River via the All-American Canal. Thousands of acres of prime farmland have transformed the desert into one of the most productive farming regions in California with an annual crop production of over $1 billion. Agriculture is the largest industry in the Imperial Valley and accounts for 48% of all employment. An environmental cost is that, south of the canal, the Colorado River no longer flows above ground at all for much of the year into Mexico.

A vast system of canals, check dams, and pipelines carry the water all over the valley, a system which forms the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID. The water distribution system includes over 1,400 miles (2,300 km) of canal and with 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of pipeline. The number of canal and pipeline branches number roughly over a hundred. Imported water and a long growing season allow two crop cycles each year, and the Imperial Valley is a major source of winter fruits and vegetables, cotton, and grain for U.S. and international markets. Alfalfa is another major crop produced in the Imperial Valley. The agricultural lands are served by a constructed agricultural drain system, which conveys surface runoff and subsurface drainage from fields to the Salton Sea, which is a designated repository for agricultural runoff, with environmental considerations not yet solved.

A very interesting story on the history of water rights and fights in the Imperial Valley from Bloomberg can be read here.

It is estimated that more than 2/3 of the vegetables consumed in the United States during the winter months are grown here in the Imperial Valley.

Imperial County produced enough lettuce (including head lettuce, leaf lettuce and salad mix) to serve dinner salads to 2,352,000,000 people!

An acre of carrots can provide 320,000 people with a nutritious side dish.  Enough carrots were grown in Imperial Valley to serve a 1/4-pound helping to 75% of the Earth’s population!

Imperial Valley has a well-known reputation for midwinter salad vegetables. Shipments of crisphead lettuce, leaf lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage start in December and continue until March. Asparagus is in-season January, February and March. Carrots are harvested January to June.

Spring production of warm-season vegetables starts in late April with the harvest of Sweet Imperial onions, sweet corn, bell pepper, chili peppers, cantaloupes, mixed melons and watermelons.

Lotta Lettuce
Lotta Lettuce

This is a shot of a field of lettuce in in the tiny Arizona section of the Imperial Valley. The scale of the leafy vegetable growing operation of the valley is hard to imagine if one has never been here to see it.

Lotta Lettuce
Lotta Lettuce
Great Egret
Great Egret
Mixed Plantings
Mixed Plantings

I don’t know the reason for this type of planting, but it does make for an interesting change of pace from the solid green fields that surround it..

Mixed Plantings
Mixed Plantings
Anise Harvest
Anise Harvest

I had no idea what this was that this crew was harvesting, but then a timely article on the front page of the Yuma Sun on Sunday had an article called “Reap the Harvest” and had an image and text describing what the crew was harvesting.

Romaine Harvest
Picking Romaine

It is almost incomprehensible, when one sees the scale of these operations and the miles of fields, that each head of lettuce, each cabbage, each broccoli or cauliflower, is harvested by hand. The vehicle behind the pickers is where the plant is washed and packaged for the grocery store shelf, then boxed for transport, a moving assembly line platform. The white school buses on the right, usually towing one or two Porta-potties, are used to transport workers about the fields.

May 2, 2015 A Very Interesting Travel Day

Malheur NWR, Oregon to Colfax, Washington

This was a long day’s travel for me, over 360 miles in one day’s driving, where I usually like to limit it to 200 miles or less, but my much longer than planned stay at Malheur NWR made this necessary. Usually a drive of this length gets very boring, but this was different.

Malheur NWR to The Palouse
Malheur NWR to The Palouse

This was a route I had not driven before and turned out to be one of the more scenic drives I have done in a long while. First traveling through the Malheur National Forest and it’s all but park like woods, then across the 140,000 acre Silvies Ranch, then more National Forest, down through the foothills, through Pendleton, OR. and Walla Walla, WA …

Walla Walla Farmland
Walla Walla Farmland
Walla Walla Farm Country
Walla Walla Farm Country

and the rolling spring green fields that run for miles after passing through that small city. Then before encountering the the green fields of my destination, the Palouse, you drive through, and all but under, several large scale wind farms, hundreds of wind turbines on both sides of the road.

If you ever have the occasion to travel through this region, this is a route I’m sure you would enjoy. The roads were all in very good shape, there was all but no traffic and I only encountered a couple of 18 wheelers on the entire drive. There are some 5 and 6% grades in the mountains, but nothing that proved too strenuous for the motorhome.

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October 29, 2014

Sacramento Pass BLM campground
Sacramento Pass BLM campground

A Great BLM Campground

Stumbled onto the Sacramento Pass BLM campground ( shows as Red Canyon on Google Maps ), right on Route 6, and ended up spending two nights here.  Appears to be very new and very nice. Five or six sites with shelters, tables and fire rings, all in the open and not too close to one another. Free campsites. Plus there is another camping area another half mile in for the horse set with a corral and another two or three very nice campsites. No Verizon signal at all, open sky for good satellite reception, no hookups or dump station. And at over 7000′ elevation and no lights anywhere near, great star gazing.

Mountaintop aspen grove
Mountaintop aspen grove

Took a long, mostly unrewarding road trip today. Headed west on Route 6 until getting to Route 893 north. 893 north starts out as a paved two lane road that skirts the west side of a a large wind turbine field but turns into a fairly well travelled and maintained gravel road about twenty miles in. I can’t say as there is much to see along the entire length of this road but your normal sparse high desert grazing land. It does pass through a bit of juniper and evergreens as it traverses the mountains and heads back to Route 93, but I never took a single photo over its 60 mile length, but I sure did inhale a lot of dust.

Once on Route 93 I headed south through yet more scrubby open rangeland until taking Route 436 up into the hills. This turned out to be an interesting drive through the hills, starting out as a two lane paved road, then turning into a well travelled, dusty, gravel road, then a narrow, quite rough in places gravel road as it climbed up and over some unnamed mountain pass and descended via narrow switchback rutted road and ultimately turned back into a paved two laner that returned to Route 93.

Mountaintop aspen grove
Mountaintop aspen grove

Though I didn’t see any, this road looked like it should have produced some wildlife sightings. The only images I got were a couple of shots taken of the thick aspen groves near the high point of the road. Definitely not a road to take in the RV, but one that was pretty manageable for me in the Prius. After rain, it may need 4 wheel drive to make it through the upper sections of this road.

Today's trip map
Today’s trip map

Once back on Route 93, I once again headed south, past the Ely Elk Viewing parking lot, until Route 93 joined back up with Route 6 west, that I took back to my Sacramento Pass BLM campsite. 195 miles with very little to show for it.

You can click on the map to see it in greater detail, as well as other previous travel details over the past few months.

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