My Visit to Mohave County
The heavy rains of winter 2016 to 2017 in the high and low deserts of California and Arizona produced spectacular wildflower displays throughout the region. The wildflowers, in turn, brought wildflower people from far and wide to see the deserts’ spring beauty. Gawkers even came from South America and Europe to the Great American Southwest.
I was no different. Having cut my wildflower photography teeth in the southern deserts of those two states at spectacular locations such as Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and San Diego County’s Anza-Borrego Desert Park, I was anxious to get out and make more flowery photo art this year. Particularly because I had done no spring wildflowers since moving from Coronado to Flagstaff in 2010.
Barb and I did venture into Death Valley’s “super bloom” last year where we amazingly met Nick and Chiyo in a little mom-and-pop restaurant at Shoshone when we were all having breakfast. I instantly recognized Nick as a West Point graduate and, being faithful to my Annapolis alma mater, yelled out, as Nick was exiting the door, “Beat Army!”
But back to this year. Being quite anxious to catch this year’s blooms in the high deserts of Arizona, I began reading wildflower reports on line. In one account the writer stated that spectacular blooms existed in the Black Mountains of northwestern Arizona.
Never having heard of the Blacks, I instantly popped up a trusty (?) Google map and bingo! There they were! Mr. Google told me to drive about 54 miles northwest from Kingman on US 93 towards Las Vegas and then execute a left turn, essentially turning due south. Mr. G said that if I did so, I would arrive at this flowery hotspot in due time.
My 30-hour stomping grounds. I had a great time here, in case you hadn't noticed.
Of course, I had to drive to Mother Nature’s floral orgy from Flag. Mr. Google told me that such a drive would require three and one-half hours and 200 miles on the road. No problema. I would do it!
Arizona Lupine and ????? Can anybody help me out, here?
I was soon re-reminded, as trips of this nature always do, that the driving distances and times between key points in this state can be lengthy. That’s because the region is so vast. (That’s pronounced “vahhhst,” like the Orthodox priest pronounced it in the Seinfeld episode, “The Conversion.”) The Interstate helps greatly.
I departed from home on Thursday at 1600 hours. (That’s 4:00 p.m. to you civilians.) I arrived at Mr. Google’s Black Mountain location around 1745 with sundown scheduled for 1845. That gave me only limited daylight to locate the right flowers, figure out the right vantage points to shoot them from, and actually make my images. Shooting digitally, I did enjoy the luxury of instant feedback. I can tell right away, unlike my film days, whether my exposures, compositions and sharpness are up to my exacting standards. Perfectionist standards, you might say.
Fortunately, I arrived at my intended destination early. That’s because on this particular day nobody heeded the speed limits. Not on I-40 and especially not on US 93. The posted speed on the latter was 65 mph. But everybody -- and I do mean everybody -- was driving upwards of 90 to 100. Well, not really everybody. I never exceeded the low 80s.
A lot of those drivers couldn't wait to get to Vegas and go to Harrah's or the Luxor or Circus Circus to nearly literally throw their hard-earned dollars down the toilet. Condenados imbéciles!