Fading Heat

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Evening Vista, Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Evening Vista, Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

The beaches of Los Angeles are bathed in yellowing light as the evening sun shines through the haze euphemistically known there as the  ‘marine layer’.  Traffic is crawling as the freeways are filled with frustrated commuters. Angry horn blasts, sirens, and road construction equipment add background chaos. Air conditioners are overloading the electric grid. It is a typical August day in southern California.

There is an oasis of quiet  nearby. About 150  miles (240 km) to the east out in the Mojave Desert is Joshua Tree National Park. The drive for them takes between 2.5 and 4.5 hours, depending on traffic. I can only imagine the annoyance of the traffic snarl that causes that 4.5 hour drive.

Joshua Tree National Park is not only a refuge from crowds, but also a place of weird rock formations, tenacious vegetation, resourceful adapted wildlife, and impressively long vistas. And quiet. The namesake Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia Engelm.) is a freak.

The exposed granitoid rocks crumble in the dry heat. Joints in the rock predetermine the shapes that emerge. And within these blocks the rock decomposes to individual mineral sand grains.

If you find an elevated vantage point you can watch the shadows creep across miles of desert into the distance. The evening light changes color there also. It must be augmented by some of the escaped ‘marine layer’.

The contrast of bright illumination and deep shadows adds interest and definition to the terrain. The very warm wind moving through the vegetation makes the only sounds. It is a place to watch, listen, and think.

There are more Mojave Desert photos in my California gallery. Please follow the Photography link above.




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