Sunday, July 20, 2014

Catching Up

We’ve been off-line for a while, so its time to get back to writing. After visiting Sequoia National Park we decided to see more big trees. So we went to the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park.


I thought this particular dead sequoia was interesting because you can walk through it standing up. That experience provides a good perspective on the enormity of these giant trees. I’m not going to add any more tree pictures here because, they all tend to look the same. The only way to really experience these trees is to visit them, but only do it if you want to appreciate how insignificant humans are in the scale of living things.

We then set off in search of Kings Canyon. Now, you would think this would be easy, since we were in Kings Canyon National Park. But 96% of the two parks combined is wilderness. That means no roads. In fact, the week before we visited a lone hiker fell and was badly injured somewhere is Kings Canyon. To survive, he ate bugs and drank what water he could find. He basically crawled to a point where he could be rescued, and all ended reasonably well.


This may be an image of Kings Canyon. We were off on some side road in the park, and there wasn’t a sign saying “Kings Canyon Kodak Point” and the park map was somewhat vague. So for our purposes, this is a picture of Kings Canyon and I dare anyone to challenge me on this.

The visit to these parks was a respite from the incredible heat. As mentioned earlier, Sequoia and Kings Canyon are at 7000 feet and above, so the temperature when we visited was in the 70s. Back down closer to sea level we haven’t seen high temperatures lower than 100 to 1007 degrees in more than two weeks. As a northeastern boy, that’s been a bit hard to deal with.

dry res

Which brings us back to the California drought. These next few images were lifted from web sites (so sue me) because when we saw stuff like this I didn’t think it was safe to stop along the road to take pictures. Back east we hear a lot about the drought. But its really in the abstract. When you’re here and see nearly empty reservoirs, it sort of hits you in the face. This is really bad. Another abstract idea is that California provides a great deal of the produce consumed by Americans from coast to coast.

farm scene

But you’ve got to drive through the central valley to realize what that really means. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of square miles of farms growing pretty much every crop we eat or feed to livestock. Fruit, nuts, lettuce, squash, corn, tomatoes, peppers, grapes (can’t forget the grapes) – you get the idea. But what can’t be expressed in words or a few pictures is the enormity of the potential problem.


All of these crops need water to grow. Massive irrigation projects feed the farms, but the water is disappearing. Add to that the battle between the cities and the farmers over the use of what water still exists, you can appreciate the enormity of the issue. California has just invoked water conservation measures, which seem quite weak and maybe too late. For example, when you water your lawn with a hose you must use a nozzle that shuts off. How about no lawn watering? How about no car washing? I guess they’re waiting for things to get really bad to get serious.

dead grapes

We saw some farms, like this vineyard, that have just dried up and died. We also saw lots of farms still hanging on and producing.

So far, the impact to the rest of the country has been higher food prices, but if this continues there’s a real potential for massive food shortages.

On a happier note, we left California by driving through the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas. The high today is expected to be 108, but its supposed to get really hot later in the week.DSC_0525

This is an image of the fountain at the Wynn Hotel. I guess there’s no fear of a drought in Nevada. (In reality we’ve been told the water is recirculated, but somehow the appearance of wasted water offends me.)

Tonight we’re going to see a show at Bally’s complete with topless showgirls. Hey, it was Penny’s idea.


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