Category Archives: Landscape

12-22-19 – Homestead National Monument


Homestead National Monument of America, a unit of the National Park System, commemorates passage of the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed any qualified person to claim up to 160 acres (0.65 km2) of federally owned land in exchange for five years of residence and the cultivation and improvement of the property. The Act eventually transferred 270,000,000 acres (1,100,000 km2) from public to private ownership.

The national monument is five miles west of Beatrice, Gage County, Nebraska on a site that includes some of the first acres successfully claimed under the Homestead Act. The national monument was first included in the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966 (ID 66000115).

The Homestead Heritage Center, dedicated in 2007, contains exhibits that treat the effect of the Homestead Act on immigration, agriculture, native tribes, the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, and federal land policy. The roof line of the center resembles a “single bottom plow moving through the sod,” and the parking lot measures exactly 1-acre (4,000 m2). A separate Education Center features science and social science presentations that can be shared with classrooms anywhere in the United States through distance-learning.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homestead_National_Monument_of_America

12-21-19 – Road Trip (CA-OH)


Random roadside scenes on a holiday road trip to spend time with family, visiting national parks and monuments along the way!

12-01-19 – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (shortened to Glen Canyon NRA or GCNRA) is a recreation and conservation unit of the United States National Park Service that encompasses the area around Lake Powell and lower Cataract Canyon in Utah and Arizona, covering 1,254,429 acres (5,076.49 km2) of mostly rugged high desert terrain. The recreation area is named for Glen Canyon, which was flooded by the Glen Canyon Dam, completed in 1966, and is now mostly submerged beneath the waters of Lake Powell.

Glen Canyon NRA borders Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park on the north, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on the west, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and the northeasternmost reaches of Grand Canyon National Park on the southwest, and the Navajo Nation on the southeast. The southwestern end of Glen Canyon NRA in Arizona can be accessed via U.S. Route 89 and State Route 98. State Route 95 and State Route 276 lead to the northeastern end of the recreation area in Utah.

Glen Canyon NRA was established in 1972 “to provide for public use and enjoyment and to preserve the area’s scientific, historic, and scenic features.” The stated purpose of Glen Canyon NRA is for recreation as well as preservation (whereas a national park may carry more emphasis on natural preservation). As such, the area has been developed for access to Lake Powell via five marinas, four public campgrounds, two small airports, and numerous houseboat rental concessions.

The geology of the area is dominated by the Glen Canyon Group, consisting of the Navajo Sandstone, Kayenta Formation, and Wingate Sandstone. The entire stratigraphic section includes rocks dating from the Cretaceous to Pennsylvanian periods.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Canyon_National_Recreation_Area

11-30-19 – Rainbow Bridge National Monument


Rainbow Bridge is made from sandstone originally deposited by wind as sand dunes, during the end of the Triassic and the Jurassic periods. Extreme fluctuations in climate during the Triassic and Jurassic periods—the region was alternately a sea and desert on par with the Sahara—produced layers of sandstone with different levels of hardness. By the end of the Jurassic, the sea returned to cover these layers of sandstone and compressed them so tightly that they would persist until the present day.

As Bridge Creek flowed toward the growing Colorado River during the last ice age, it carved first through softer rocks and veered away from the harder Triassic and Jurassic sandstones, eventually creating a wide hairpin bend that flowed around a solid “fin” of sandstone that would become Rainbow Bridge. The previous course of the creek is still visible above the bridge. Water flows back on itself at bends and wide spots, creating swirling eddies along the banks. As the creek flowed around Rainbow Bridge fin, these abrasive eddies formed on both the upstream and downstream sides and cut circular alcoves in the rock wall. The sediment in the creek eventually scoured the softer layers of sandstone away, leaving the harder layers behind.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Bridge_National_Monument

11-29-19 – Valley of the Gods


The Valley of the Gods is a scenic sandstone valley near Mexican Hat in San Juan County, southeastern Utah, United States. Formerly part of Bears Ears National Monument, Valley of the Gods is located north of Monument Valley across the San Juan River and has rock formations similar to those in Monument Valley with tall, reddish brown mesas, buttes, towers and mushroom rocks—remnants of an ancient landscape.

The Valley of the Gods may be toured via a 17-mile (27 km) gravel road (San Juan County Road 242) that winds around the formations. The road is rather steep and bumpy in parts but is passable by non-four-wheel drive vehicles in dry weather. The western end joins Utah State Route 261 shortly before its 1,200-foot (370 m) ascent up Cedar Mesa at Moki Dugway, while the eastern end starts nine miles (14 km) from the town of Mexican Hat along U.S. Route 163 and heads north, initially crossing flat, open land and following the course of Lime Creek, a seasonal wash, before turning west toward the buttes and pinnacles. In addition to the gravel road, the area is also crisscrossed by off-road dirt trails.

The valley has been used as the backdrop for western movies, commercials and television shows including two episodes of the BBC science fiction show Doctor Who: “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon”, the second of which includes an explicit on-screen reference to the filming location. The 1984-1987 CBS TV show Airwolf is often mistakenly identified as being filmed in Valley of the Gods due to an in-episode mention but was filmed in Monument Valley

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_the_Gods

11-24-19 – Sand to Snow and Joshua Tree


I went for a wander intending to visit Sand To Snow National Monument, but found myself in a hike-in only situation controlled by The Wildlands Conservancy, and I wasn’t geared for a long hike that day, so I spent some time in The Wildlands Conservancy before setting off to the far more accessible Joshua Tree National Park.

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Sand to Snow National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in San Bernardino County and into northern Riverside County, Southern California. It protects diverse montane and desert habitats of the San Bernardino Mountains, southern Mojave Desert, and northwestern Colorado Desert. The national monument protects a total of 154,000 acres (62,000 ha), with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) managing 83,000 acres (34,000 ha) acres, and the USFS−San Bernardino National Forest managing 71,000 acres (29,000 ha). It extends from around 1,000 feet (300 m) on the Coachella Valley desert floor up to over 11,000 feet (3,400 m) in the San Bernardino Mountains. Over 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) of the national monument are within the San Gorgonio Wilderness area, which was designated by Congress in 1964. An eastern border in the Little San Bernardino Mountains abuts Joshua Tree National Park. A separate section expands the Bighorn Mountain Wilderness area to the northeast. 30 miles (48 km) of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail pass through the monument. The headwaters of the Santa Ana River, Whitewater River, Morongo Creek, and San Gorgonio River are within it. The park protects a significant wildlife corridor and landscape linkage between the San Bernardino National Forest/San Gorgonio Wilderness area, Joshua Tree National Park, and Bighorn Mountain Wilderness area.

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Joshua Tree National Park is an American national park in southeastern California, east of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, near Palm Springs. The park is named for the Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) native to the Mojave Desert. Originally declared a national monument in 1936, Joshua Tree was redesignated as a national park in 1994 when the U.S. Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act. Encompassing a total of 790,636 acres (1,235.4 sq mi; 3,199.6 km2)—an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island—the park includes 429,690 acres (671.4 sq mi; 1,738.9 km2) of designated wilderness. Straddling the border between San Bernardino County and Riverside County, the park includes parts of two deserts, each an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert. The Little San Bernardino Mountains traverse the southwest edge of the park.

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Source: Wikipedia

11-01_02-19 – FL to CA

Some lovely sunsets while driving back to Los Angeles from Key West

10-28-19 – Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park


The Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, better known simply as Fort Taylor (or Fort Zach to locals) is a Florida State Park and National Historic Landmark centered on a Civil War-era fort located near the southern tip of Key West, Florida.

1845–1900
Construction of the fort began in 1845 as part of a mid-19th century plan to defend the southeast coast through a series of forts after the War of 1812. Thompson Island, at the southwest tip of Key West, was selected as the site for the fort in 1822 and plans for the fort, drawn up by Simon Bernard and Joseph G. Totten, were approved in 1836. Two supporting batteries, Martello Towers, provided additional coverage, one of which exists today as the Martello Gallery-Key West Art and Historical Museum. The fort was named for United States President Zachary Taylor in November 1850, a few months after President Taylor’s sudden death in office. The fort’s foundation consists of oolitic limestone and New England granite. Its five-foot thick walls rose 50 feet above mean low water, and included two tiers of casemates plus a terreplein or barbette at the top. Three seaward curtains 495 feet between bastions, each containing 42 guns on three levels, were augmented by a land facing gorge. Troop barracks were built into this gorge with a capacity for 800 men. At either end of the barracks was a large gunpowder magazine while a Sally port was located in the center, connected to land by a 1200-foot causeway. Rainwater was collected in underground cisterns along the perimeter of the fort. Yellow fever epidemics and material shortages slowed construction of the fort, which continued throughout the 1850s. The Pensacola, Florida firm of Raiford and Abercrombie provided the bricks for Fort Zachary Taylor and Fort Jefferson, which was also under construction at the same time.

At the outset of the U.S. Civil War on 13 Jan. 1861, Union Captain John Milton Brannan, moved his 44 men of the First U.S. Artillery from Key West Barracks to Fort Taylor. His orders were to prevent the fort from falling into Confederate hands. The fort then became a key outpost to threaten blockade runners. Major William H. French arrived in April with his artillery unit.

In 1898, the fort was reduced down to the second floor and Battery Osceola was added to the south casemate. The battery consisted of two 12 inch artillery pieces. The Civil War-era pieces were used as fill, being buried within the new battery to save on materials. Battery Adair was added to the west casemate and included four 3-inch, 15-pounder Rapid Fire rifles.

The fort was heavily used again during the 1898 Spanish–American War, World Wars I and II, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1947, the fort, no longer of use to the U.S. Army, was turned over to the U.S. Navy for maintenance. In 1968, volunteers led by Howard S. England excavated Civil War guns and ammunition buried in long-abandoned parts of the fort, which was soon discovered to house the nation’s largest collection of Civil War cannons. Fort Taylor was therefore placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Due to the filling in of land around the fort, including the creation of an attractive stretch of beach, the park now occupies 87 acres (352,000 m²).

Source: Wikipedia

10-28-19 – West Martello Tower Garden Club


Key West was the only southern city allied with the Federal government during the Civil War. This is where the presence of Fort Zachary Taylor and both East and West Martello Towers originated. Fort Zach is located at the southwestern tip of the island, while West Martello is found along the southern coast at Higgs Beach and East Martello is located near the airport.

Fort Zach began construction in 1845 and was completed 21 years later in 1866. The construction of the Martello Towers also took considerable time. In 1836, Colonel Joseph Gilmore Totten originally planned to build nine forts in Key West. Due to budget, this was revised to one fort, being Fort Zach, and two advanced batteries, being the Martellos. It would take nearly 30 years before construction began on the towers. The West Martello battery was completed in 1863, but work ceased in 1873 and the tower was never armed. It became a quarry for residents.

In 1878, two small guns were installed and the tower was used during the Spanish American War for quartering troops, storage, signaling and lookout. During World War II, it was used for radio stations and as an anti-aircraft battery.

By 1947, all Army personnel were released from the island and the two towers were turned over as property of Monroe County. Meanwhile, Fort Zach remained would property of the Navy.

Two years later, when the tower was threatened by demolition, the Key West Garden Club stepped in to preserve the historic site. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and today serves a one-of-a-kind Key West attraction for both history and horticulture buffs.

Source: trollytours.com

10-24_29-19 – Key West


A throwback to easier times before Covid-19, when I made a coast-to-coast roadtrip to spend time with dear old friends on Key West in the sunshine state.

Key West, a U.S. island city, is part of the Florida Keys archipelago. It’s also Florida’s southernmost point, lying roughly 90 miles north of Cuba. Famed for its pastel-hued, conch-style houses, it’s a cruise-ship stop also accessible from the mainland via the Overseas Highway. It’s known more for its coral reefs – destinations for diving and snorkeling – than for its beaches.