There’s so much to love about living in San Diego. The proximity to the beach offers unlimited opportunities to revel in all that the sea has to offer, and I never tire of it. But sometimes it’s nice to get away and do something different.
This week has been my spring break–a whole week with no work, a much needed respite from the demands of my everyday routine and an opportunity to recharge. I spent the beginning of my break with my twin grandsons–having so much fun, reveling in just what it means to be 13 months old and discovering the world of play, times two. With my other grandson out of town, I talked my husband into a trip to Joshua Tree National Park after I got back.
Just a few hours away from home another world awaits. High in the desert not far from Palm Springs is an expansive park that straddles the Mojave and Sonoran (Colorado portion) deserts. Most noticeable are the trees the park is named for…odd, spiky trees that seem almost alive. They seem like the kind of trees that would move when you turn your head. The sharp spines contrast with the wind smoothed boulders in the background. This photo of the blooming Joshua Tree is lit by the soft light as the sun was setting over my shoulder.
Looking west, you can make out the sharp silhouette of the Joshua Tree against the enhanced colors of the desert sunset. The mountains look like small hills in the distance instead of the snow capped peaks my eyes could see.
Sharp cactus spines and brilliant blossoms attracted my attention–and also attracted bees and other insects. This Hedgehog cactus was quite a display of beauty…with sharp edges. (And just one of many cacti variety in bloom!)
The Chollas (teddy bear, silver, and other varieties) are known for their sharp, barbed spines. Coming across an entire garden of them was breathtaking! And then seeing them in bloom was even more spectacular. This little ladybug was right at home, posing comfortably as I moved in close with my camera.
Hiking is really the best way to appreciate this dry land of sharp contrasts. We climbed steep rocky slopes that switchbacked up and over trails filled with wonder. We spotted lizards scampering under shrubs and a couple of huge lizards sunning themselves on rocks as we made our way to a desert oasis marked by native California fan palms.
It’s evident that some visitors decided to mark their visit with a sharp object, carving initials in these majestic trees. While we rested in the shade of the palms, a casual conversation with another couple revealed a close encounter with a rattlesnake up on the path. Made wary by their story, we were cautious on our hike back and definitely felt the jolt of adrenaline when the distinct rattle stopped us in our tracks. My husband watched the rattlesnake (he counted 8 rattles) move off as we carefully made our way around it. (Sorry no picture…sometimes you just have to stay back!)
Another hike took us into a valley filled with rock formations. I couldn’t help take a shot of this seemingly dead tree casting a sharp shadow, extending the tree both into the sky and across the ground.
The rock formations in the park are popular with climbers and we often looked up to see people high above us. After a relatively short hike to find Arch Rock, and an accidental side trip off the path, we found this interesting formation, rounded by the same conditions that cause plants to have sharp needles rather than broad leaves. It was fun to watch my husband scramble up the sharp angle of rock to pose in the arch, giving a sense of size and space to the formation.
Today on a drive into a far corner of the park, we found Ocotillo growing…and in full bloom. Of course we had to stop to photograph these massive beauties reaching high into the sky, sharp red blooms against the cloudless blue above.
And photo credit to Geoff for capturing a photo of me, dwarfed by this tall specimen…looking so sharp in my hiking boots and shorts! (And as always, with my camera around my neck!)
So, as you go about your week be on the lookout for sharp. It doesn’t have to be the desert that inspires the sharp edges in your photos, you might find sharp in the crispness of your focus, in the wit of a family member, or maybe even in your kitchen.
You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #sharp for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.
Share the sharp in your life this week.
What an amazing park and phenomenal photos! Your description of the Joshua trees intrigued me–they seem like “the kind of trees that would move when you turn your head.” –I interpreted that in more of a Dr. Seuss way than a creepy way 🙂 I especially love the photo of the “dead” tree and its twisty shadow, but its hard to pick a favorite. It must be an incredible experience to see those blossoming cacti in person. My determination to travel out west just doubled!
Thanks Molly. It was quite an experience–and this is quite a year for desert flowers. We need an exchange–you come to CA and I go to Maine! There is so much beauty in both of our places!
Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth | Thinking Through My Lens