Bob Neuman and David Ruether

Trip to the South Western US

May - June  2005

DESERT

 

Our trip began with a flight to Las Vegas and an overnight stay at the Palace Station Hotel (a pleasant hotel, modestly priced, though located nowhere near the "Strip"). That night we drove along the almost overwhelming "Strip" of theme hotels and casinos. The light from vast moving neon displays, brightly-lit buildings, and huge video screens was overwhelming - though seeing large replicas of NYC buildings, Paris landmarks, volcanoes blowing up, large waterfalls, a ship being attacked, Roman buildings, miles of NEON, etc., can be fun.

The next morning (May 20), we set out in our rented Chevrolet on a 3+ week trip through southeastern Nevada, southern Utah, southwestern Colorado, and northern Arizona. Leaving Las Vegas, we had our first taste of one of the many forms the alien-looking landscapes of the southwestern US (photos 2 through 5). David felt nostalgia for some of these, even though he had seen some of these only during a few trips and one brief stay in the SW several decades ago. Traveling at the time we did, the weather was mostly pleasant, with the extremes being at Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, and Zion (about 95 degrees - but, "It's a DRY heatů!") to near freezing in the highest areas - with sunshine on most days.

Hardly a dull moment - just when you think the landscape has "settled" and you are getting used to it, everything changes again (photo 1).

The cholla - claimed to spit its loose ends at passers by. The spines are so sharp that they can go through shoe leather (I know - it happened to me once) - and the reverse-barb spine ends make them very hard to remove (photo 6).

Near Sedona, AZ we saw several century plants in bloom (these are enormous, towering over us with bloom stalks 10-14' high - photo 7). After blooming the plant unfortunately  dies.

We were VERY lucky to have had the unusually wet and cool spring delay and extend much of the cactus flowering until we arrived (photos 8 through 13, 15, 16, 18, 19). These blooms must be seen to be believed - the colors are brilliant! The desert in general was blooming when we were there, but the cactus blooms overwhelm most others (though we never did get a picture of a large clear-yellow buttercup-like flower...).

The most commonly seen non-plant life-form is this small lizard (photo 14) - these scurry everywhere. In the past, when walking in back areas, rattlesnakes and other "un-niceties" were seen - but we did not see any on this trip...

 

(Photos were taken by Bob Neuman and edited and adjusted by David Ruether)
(All photographs Copyright 2005 Robert Neuman)

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