Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Many Faces of the American West

WHAT an amazingly diverse country the USA is!

Our one-week road trip began in Las Vegas, Nevada. Heading west into California we drove through dusty deserts and rocky hills, then crested the range and found ourselves at once in a lush agricultural area.

Nowhere has the influence of topography on weather and land use been so apparent. As we came out of the mountains into the valley, citrus and nut groves and vegetable fields dominated the landscape. It was hot.

Then began the climb back into the mountains. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains are marked by scenic oak woodlands, abundant wildflowers and streams. As we ascended, the temperature dropped.

By the time we reached the lodge in Sequoia National Park at 6,500 feet, the land was covered in 12' of snow and giant trees stretched up to the clouds.

The journey back east took us through Nevada's Mojave Desert then into Arizona. This mighty landscape of dry earth, cliffs, scrubby grasses and cactus extended as far as the eye could see for hours and hours. Incredible. I thought I had no awe left in me until we arrived at our final destination, the Grand Canyon.

In the context of such natural majesty, individual people are so insignificant. We have, however, learned to live in an astounding variation of habitats.

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