Tag Archives: rabbitbrush

Enchantment on a road trip.

Truly, it seemed that I had posted more than enough pictures of mountains and children and drying-up flowers seen on my travels with family. But when the Professor shared one of his own captures of a moment in a place, I said, “Now I will have to write at least one more post about this trip.” You can skip to the end to see it if you are in a hurry.

The day after my last post, we went to Convict Lake in the morning:

At the end of the lake where Convict Creek comes in, there is The Enchanted Forest, of aspens and cottonwoods.

In the afternoon we drove north to Mono Lake, with a brief detour to get closer to the Mono Craters, where some red form of “wild buckwheat” was adding splashes of color to that area. (I don’t have a picture of the craters.) Pippin and I compared Antelope Brush and Common Sagebrush, and found the two growing close together, which was helpful. Sage has softer leaves.

Ivy persuaded me to collect sand out there for my collection, which I will label “Mono Crater Vista.”

At the lake, we saw the tufa and the beautiful rabbitbrush and sage at dusk:

I’m in a bit of a rush to finish this wrap-up post, before I get home and too busy. It turns out it will not be the last post about my trip after all; I had a great adventure at the end, after I parted ways with the family.

But to return to the Enchanted Forest, the Professor took this picture of my daughter and me, which shows the mood and the glory and the specialness of our time together. To God be the glory and the thanks and the praise for all these people and experiences and beauty. Thank you, Lord.

 

Rabbitbrush and butterscotch.

Last week was full of rocks and trees and even flowers. Joy and I took the children to Garden of the Gods, where red sandstone in ragged forms towers above the walking paths. Even the littlest guy walked more than two miles among the juniper and mountain mahogany, and wildflowers mostly gone to seed. The Gambel oaks, also known as Rocky Mountain white oak or Colorado scrub oak, had probably displayed more varied shades of orange and yellow a few weeks ago, but when we encountered them the leaves had aged to a rich, mellow gold.

We saw the rabbitbrush in many forms and places, but didn’t know what it was until just before we left the park and saw its picture in the visitor center. I have known of rabbitbrush for decades and I hope that after this extended encounter I will not forget it so easily. We saw its flower, two sorts of galls on the plants, and noticed its needly leaves and how they are softer than conifer needles. One of the galls is cottony gall; the other I haven’t been able to identify.

The very next day the whole family drove up to Woodland Park; it’s less than an hour to this town that lies at 8500 feet. We walked along Lovell Gulch Trail, among several species of conifers and groves of aspens. We suspected they were aspens, but we knew that birch have similar bark, so when we got home I googled around and it became clear that yes, what we saw were aspens, so plentiful in the Rockies and in dry places high up, while birches like floodplains and shade. And the few leaves that we saw  — most had fallen after turning bright yellow — matched the pictures of aspen. I only saw one bright leaf, of another species.

We admired the bark of other trees, especially one that had lots of texture, and fresh sap flowing. Soldier had a sudden thought, came close to get a whiff, and concluded, “Oh, it must be a Jeffrey pine — they smell like butterscotch.” Indeed. Oh, that was delicious! I made up a mnemonic story for myself about a boy named Jeffrey who was walking down the trail and discovered a butterscotch drop on a tree trunk.

The view of the mountains is striking from there, a different perspective from our daily one. We have seen Pikes Peak from several angles now, and don’t know the names of any of the other peaks visible from here. Soldier just read that Colorado has more than 50 peaks over 14,000 feet. Colder temperatures are coming this week, and yes, snow is on the forecast, too. So our views will grow even more spectacular.