April 9, 2005
- HayPatch, UT & Death Valley, CA -
After viewing a news story about the
"once-in-a-lifetime" blooming in Death Valley National Park, and
receiving emails saying "You should go...", we (Ivan and
Catherine) couldn’t resist the chance to go view it in person.
We’re always in the mood for a weekend getaway, and with Death
Valley only about an 8-hour drive from our house, the blooming
desert beckoned us to come see and photograph its splendor.
drove to Las Vegas and then headed northwest toward the park.
About 20 miles from the park we started to see evidence of the
springtime blooming. Off the road about 50 feet were several
orange cushions that appeared to be a blooming cactus. We pulled
over to see what it was. It wasn’t a cactus, but rather a plant
covered with moist spaghetti-like "blooms" certainly not like
any other flower I’d seen before. (If you’ve ever played with
Silly String before it dried, you’ll know how this stuff felt to
the touch.) We had a theory that this plant was a hoax staged by
the Park Rangers, until we saw hundreds of them in one stretch
as if it were a springtime pumpkin patch. We were sure we would
see a patient Linus waiting among the plants for the Great
Pumpkin to appear.
continued into the park, stopping to take photos of each variety
of flower we could find - a treasure hunt, if you will. There
were tall flowers reaching a few feet in the air and there were
small flowers less than an inch off the
ground. Walking through this display was at times treacherous -
I didn’t know which of the flowers had just bloomed after being
dormant for 50 years, and I didn’t want to lessen their rare
chance to reproduce by squashing them with my immense feet.
midway through the park we came across huge fields of yellow
flowers, fields that spread at least a mile across. The scent
was awesome - sweet, delicate and inviting. What seemed curious
was that there weren’t any bees or other pollen-hunting bugs
flying around. Rather, the only animals we saw in the vast
fields were humans with cameras. These humans seemed intoxicated
by the beauty and the scent. They ran happily through the
flowers, snapping photos all the way. The purity of their
happiness was a refreshing and contagious sight to behold.
Click on the images to see larger