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.

April 24, 2014 Carson City, Nevada

Rocks above Lake Tahoe
Rocks above Lake Tahoe

A Day Trip Around Lake Tahoe and a Concerned Mother

As soon as I got my motorhome troubles fixed, I was planning on heading over the Sierras and either heading up Route 5 or going all the way to San Francisco and then heading up the coast on Route 1. Now the weather forecast calls for heavy snowfall, 12-18”, for tomorrow and Saturday, up in the mountains where I had planned to cross. Looks like I am going to stay put in Carson City for a little longer than I intended.

I drove the RV in for service at 9 AM, unhooked the Prius and headed west for a day trip around Lake Tahoe.

Trees Lake Tahoe
Trees Lake Tahoe

As always, just click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Lake Tahoe Cove
Lake Tahoe Cove

I headed west on Route 50 out of Carson City, picked up Route 28 after going over the mountains and did a counterclockwise loop around the lake on 28, then 89 then back to Carson City on 50.

Lake Tahoe Trees
Lake Tahoe Trees                                                                                                                                                       
Lake Tahoe beach house
Lake Tahoe beach house
Lake Tahoe Island
Lake Tahoe Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About half the loop road is truly scenic with lake overviews and the other half is spent winding slowly through tourist towns. I don’t believe this would be a very pleasant trip during their very short, busy, summer season, I‘m sure the traffic must get very backed up.

I was most impressed with the continuous presence of large conifers, everywhere you looked, whether on the mountainsides in the undeveloped portions around the lake or in the middle of the many small towns or residential areas you drove through. Large, and I do mean large, tall trees were everywhere you went, even the expansive lakefront mansions were surrounded by towering groves of pine and fir, very impressive settings.

And Now the Concerned Mom

Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom

While walking the dogs upon returning home this afternoon, we disturbed, and I mean really disturbed, this Killdeer mom.

Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom

She quickly led the dogs away from her nest but they really weren’t that interested in her erratic behavior, I don’t think they really believed she had injured her wing as badly as she claimed.

I have witnessed this behavior before but never had a camera with me. We were on a bit of a path behind the RV Park where some pea stone had been spread a long time ago, but had mostly been overgrown with grass.

Killdeer nest
Killdeer nest

Knowing that her nest and eggs were very difficult to spot because of their excellent camouflage, I froze where I was when we disturbed her and carefully examined the area of pea stone around where I stood. After several minutes of scanning the area, I finally saw the eggs, only about 5 feet from where I was standing.

She continued doing her broken wing routine as long as I was near the nest, and when I didn’t immediately leave, she would approach within 10 feet of me and start all over again, dragging and dancing herself away from the nest, tempting me to follow.

Killdeer dad
Killdeer Dad

Her mate eventually made an appearance and did his injury routine from the top of a nearby rock, at a much greater distance from me, and without anywhere near as much enthusiasm or bravado.

Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom
Killdeer Mom