Monday, September 12, 2011
My drive through Sierra Valley yesterday was filled with pleasant reminiscing as well as enjoying the day's sights and fragrances. The basic background gray color and fragrance of Sagebrush was punctuated by yellow flowers. I've always been intrigued by the fact the late summer flowers are mostly all yellow. On the way to the valley from Quincy we saw mostly Gum Plant and Blazing Star. On either side of Portola it was mainly Goldenrod. Then, over the hump and descending to Grizzly Creek it was Rabbitbrush (second photo above). One of the great features of Sierra Valley is the huge open space in which one can see entire storms in the distance. On our way eastward, we could see entire storms clustered by the Sierra Buttes and the mountains around Independence Lake and eastward toward Babbitt Peak. On our return trip the storms were straight ahead toward Portola and Quincy and we drove right into them. Saw lightning hit Mt. Elwell and Eureka Peak. Also drove through hail in the vicinity of Spring Garden. While in the open between Chilcoot and Vinton, we stopped for a closer look at yellow flowers and to breathe some fresh air. The yellow composites (top photo) looked as fresh as spring wildflowers, even though surrounded by many others that had gone to seed.
As for reminiscing, every time we passed a dry ditch I remembered the flowers we had seen there during spring or in years past. Also, the bird population seems to have shifted from many small songbirds and waterfowl in spring to today's hawk on every power pole and blackbird on every fence post. The background of the above photo of Rabbit Brush shows Dixie Mountain where I paid a wonderful visit to the lookout last summer, discovered a few new flowers, and got a flat tire at the very top. Also reminisced about the various snakes and lizards I'd seen on many previous trips through the valley, and a blizzard that almost stopped us. To me, Sierra Valley is a place where one can confront nature in the raw, the opposite of the couch potato experience. I feel sorry for all the folks that race through at 75 mph with windows closed, AC on, and various electronic sounds and images mesmerizing drivers and passengers alike. I was actually wishing I could have sampled the covered wagon experience, or have accompanied Jim Beckwourth and Ina Coolbrith. Imagine the wildlife before the valley was tamed!