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.

October 12, 2016 North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Sunrise Angel Point
Sunrise Angel Point

Another Spot Checked Off the Bucket List

Left Red Canyon Campground around 8 AM for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and after Just three or four hours on the road (with a stop in Kanab for groceries and gas), I arrived at the National Forest’s DeMotte CG and luckily someone was just leaving Site #4, a pull through with solar and satellite access ( no trees ). Absolutely no Verizon here and it’s a 20 mile trip to the North Rim, but the North Rim CG is reserve only and completely full, of course, and too tree covered to work for me, so DeMotte CG it is for my North Rim stay.

Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Up before dawn the next day and made it to the North Rim Lodge area just before sunrise.

Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Sunrise, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Took a few shots from the pathway around the lodge as the sun slowly rose and gradually brought the temperature above freezing.

North Rim Lodge
North Rim Lodge
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim Foliage
North Rim Foliage
Angel Point Pathway
Angel Point Pathway

I then took the short trail out to Angel Point, again doing more than a little huffing and puffing on the short hills due to the elevation of close to 9,000 feet.

Kaibab Squirrel
Kaibab Squirrel

I really had hoped to get some nice shots of the unique Kaibab Squirrel, a subspecies of the Albert Squirrel, found only on the North Rim. Unfortunately, I didn’t see all that many, and the few I did encounter were very camera shy.

Kaibab Squirrel
Kaibab Squirrel

That bushy white tail is something else!

North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Angel’s Window

North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon

On my last day here, I took the road out to the Cape Royal vista point and walked out to the ” Angel’s Window ” overlook.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Now don’t get me wrong here, but I have never been all that overwhelmed by the Grand Canyon. I mean, yes, it is a geological wonder, but I have just never been completely awed by the vistas from either the South Rim or from the lodge area of the North Rim.

Angel's Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Angel’s Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

From the Angel’s Window area, I have to admit that I was impressed. I spent close to two hours here, until after the sun had actually set, and it was spectacular! Here, I can see why folks are so inspired by the Grand Canyon.

Angel's Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Angel’s Window, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

If the North Rim is on your bucket list, then make sure you take in sunset at the Angel’s Window, the Grand Canyon at it’s best.

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December 29, 2014 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Imperial Dam NWR painted desert from Smoke Tree Point
Imperial Dam NWR painted desert from Smoke Tree Point

A Trip to the Imperial Dam NWR

This afternoon I drove out to the Imperial Dam NWR and met Judy ( Travels with Emma ), and signed up for her Sunday AM tour around the refuge. I have followed Judy’s blog for quite a while and always thought I might run into her at Anahuac NWR in Texas where she has worked winters in the past and where I have spent a good deal of time myself, but it never happened.

I’m sure I made quite an impression on her when I asked if she was Emma, of course, that just happens to be the name of her dog, as in ” Travels with Emma “. Most people would probably have been able to deduce from that that it is Judy who travels with Emma, but some of us old folk aren’t quite as aware as we once were. Fortunately, she was kind enough to forgive my transgression and, oddly enough, she actually guessed who I was, as she follows this blog. Small world!

Imperial Dam NWR painted desert from Smoke Tree Point
Imperial Dam NWR painted desert from Smoke Tree Point
Imperial Dam NWR from Smoke Tree Point
Imperial Dam NWR from Smoke Tree Point
Imperial NWR Painted Desert From Smoke Tree Point
Imperial NWR Painted Desert From Smoke Tree Point

Drove out Red Gulch Mine Road on the refuge to the Smoke Tree overlook and got some shots of the painted desert, no wildlife though.

More Hummingbirds

I spent a few hours this morning sitting out in the sun with my photo gear waiting for hummingbirds to appear at the feeders.

Anna's hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird

When we got talking about birds and photography, Judy happened to mention that she wondered if maybe I had misidentified a few of my hummingbird shots in the last few posts. Turns out she is one very observant lady, I believe she is correct. A few of the images I labeled as Costa’s hummingbirds were actually  ( male ) Anna’s hummingbirds.

Costa's hummingbird
Costa’s hummingbird

Costa’s have very distinct violet chin feathers and cap with long purple side feathers, whereas the Anna’s throat and cap are red. When I got this half way decent shot of the Costa’s today, I could really see the difference. I should be able to do better with the males, with the female hummingbirds, I will say up front that most times I am only guessing.

More Anna’s

Anna's hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird

Here is where I got confused, note the purplish sheen to the throat, but also note the lack of extended chin feathers. The Anna’s throat and cap appear anywhere from red to purple to yellow to orange depending on the angle of the light hitting those iridescent feathers.

Anna's hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird
Anna's hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird
Anna's hummingbird
Anna’s hummingbird