Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Big Bend - First Day

We hit Big Bend yesterday and just for a look see we traveled for a quickie into the park.    Bad idea - that lead to a 3-hour tour (only not the same ending as Gilligan's Island!)  It was beautiful and we stopped by many places that I had wanted - I mean we were just passing by....and....well....you know how that goes!!!

This is one of the most photographed vistas in the park, and unfortunately, the photo doesn't do the vista justice.  But Walt tries and tries well.

The surrounding area is really quite odd.  Big Bend is made up of a mountainous area that rises above the Chihauhaun desert which makes this a desert mountainous area, which means high, but little moisture.  Put in the middle of this a river adding another ecosystem - riparian, and this makes for a very interesting group of flora and fauna.....in one section you will have beautifully and often exotic blooming cactus while in another part you will have gorgeous butterflies

Switching back to the riparian ecosystem, this beautiful fern type evergreen with gorgeous delicate blossoms.  All the photos are huge so click on them to see the detail in Walt's photography.

Another cactus - back to the desert, and this is an ocotillo that looks like a bunch of thorny branches - just a stick type bush, then at the top of each stick are the gorgeous orange-red blossoms.  Again click on the photo to see the close up behind the beautiful blue desert sky.

 As Claire likes to say, "It's a painting!!!" And it is - all I have to do is paint it!  Some "vintage" buildings next to Cerro Castellan or Castellan Peak which is a super example of the volcanic, ash and following build up of sediment.  It's really colorful as you can tell with the vintage structure in the foreground.

 One of the showiest flora in the desert is the prickly pear which is normally just a purple-ish disc cactus, till spring and then out comes these glorious blossoms, and in some spots (further south) the plant is covered in blossoms as the desert is a hard environment the plant has a short time to pollinate and get its business done.  Amazingly we saw several stacks of what looked like bee hives along side the road, which makes us wonder if, as spring progresses slowly north, the apiarists follow the spring north keeping their bees busy as....(can you hear it coming)...bees!!!

 But the other great thing is that these bees serve a great purpose for these flowers that have an all too short lifetime, and they really do help them and the ecosystem of the desert.

Another popular scene from Big Bend - Mule Ears - and it looks exactly like that!

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