Friday, April 30, 2010

Continued-Visit to the Calico Solar Project on 4/27/2010.

As I walked across the arid desert landscape staying within sight of my car, a
very interesting moment occurred- as I was looking at a creosote bush I saw what appeared to be a desert iguana. Here is a video.

The iguana was sitting very still in the shade of the creosote, never moved a muscle
or blinked an eye, even when I leaned over to zoom in. Maybe he thought I didn’t see
him or that I was no threat. This was a real surprise to me and the thought did occur
later that I was real lucky that it wasn’t a mojave green rattlesnake that I stumbled upon.
What the mojave green may lack in size, it more than compensates for with it’s powerful
venom and aggressive nature. Here is a photograph of Mr. Iguana.
solarone 025

The only time I was out of sight of my car was when I ventured down into a deep,wide,
and very sandy ephemeral wash, which came out of the Pisgah ACEC, ran under and across the transmission lines and power line road, and onto the Phase 1 area of the site near the substation area. I remembered with interest my earlier reading that Tessero,
when they surveyed the 8,000 acre project site, claimed that there were no ephemeral
washes on the site

I filmed a video here where I pointed out that campers might be tempted stop here
and sleep on the soft sand, but the steep and boggy sand walls might make it impossible to escape, in the event of a flash flood. Note to newbies- never camp out in a desert wash.
You can have a bright,blue sky, nary a cloud in sight, and 30 miles away a thundercloud
could pour down rain on an isolated area, and later, the flood can rip right through the area.
Be safe, don’t camp in washes.

A note, these videos taken with my cell phone as the batteries died in my digicam.

This giant creosote bush was located in the sandy wash. It was easily 10-12 feet
wide, and at least 5 feet tall. My uneducated guess is it was hundreds of years old.
Judging by all the varied plantlife, this wash must flood often and with such volume,
that sufficient water percolates down deep enough into the sand to keep everything alive
the rest of the year.

In this video, I find a “desert condo”, several burrows in the bank of the wash.

In the distance behind the substation, and looking out to that hill way out a few miles,
all that land will be completely filled up with thousands and thousands of the Sandia Labs designed “Suncatchers”, each about 38 feet wide. After that hill will lie the second phase
which will also have thousands of “Suncatchers”, needless to say, this landscape will
be forever changed. All in all, the project will lie alongside the freeway for about 4 miles.

After saying goodbye to the Solar One site, I drove back toward Barstow on National
Trails Hwy or Route 66. I had heard that the Mojave was putting on a spectacular
wildflower display along that route and I had to check it out. Here is the video that I made
along the way beside the highway across from the lava flows.

This was the prettiest part of the trip, occurring on Rt 66 between the Hector
Road exit and and the Newberry Springs area, mostly at the lava flow area. So
many flowers, springing up from the lava rocks, and extending out to the horizon.
Unfortunately by the time you read this, the flower display may have peaked and
starting dying off. Remember though that the flowers seem to peak at different times, in different areas. My suggestion is to check the desert wildflower reports at DesertUsa
before heading out. I highly recommend their reports and that website.

Folks, I barely scraped the surface on this short visit. And I don’t think that I’ll be able to
make a return visit for a while. So if you would like to go do a recon, head about 37 miles
east of Barstow on I-40 and get off at Hector Rd. From here you can access the western
end of the project site, then head east alongside the freeway until you hit Pisgah Crater
Rd. Or get off at Hector and go back the way you came on Rt 66, until you reach the
lava flow area.

A note about Facebook. I have disconnected my youtube channel from making notifications
on Facebook. I will notify people through this blog in the future of any videos being put
up online.


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