Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2013: Record Blooms of Joshua Trees, I See Hawks in LA, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve!
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13 April 2013 Saturday
The Joshua Trees in Joshua Tree National Park were in rare bloom. Prolific blooms unlike anyone had ever seen.

But when Lisa, George, and I got there, we noticed that it wasn't just the Joshua Trees. I had never seen so many yuccas or cacti in bloom simultaneously either.

This is a Joshua Tree in bloom. We had never seen so many in bloom, and we have been going to the Park for many years.

"It's more than interesting, it's probably unprecedented in anybody's recent memory anyway," Cameron Barrows, a research ecologist at the University of California, Riverside, told ABC, as reported by the Huffington Post.

At Hidden Valley, where many of the blooms were, there were also a lot of vintage Thunderbirds. Coincidence? George thought no, but we took a look at some of the T-Birds, just for good measure.

One of the prolific blooms in the Park.

Blooms near the road leading to Keys Point Outlook in Joshua Tree National Park.

Many of the Mojave Mounds were in full bloom as well.

But why was the Joshua Tree desert suddenly bursting with blooms? If this hadn't occurred before within recent memory, why would the Joshua Trees begin now?

Thankfully, George, a biology expert, was on hand to answer these questions for us.

"Some of us believe that the blooms are a stress response by the Joshua Trees to climate change. There has been less rain here in the high desert than before. For instance, Joshua Tree National Park typically receives 2-5 inches of rain a year. But for the past two years, there has been a drought. This year, the Park received less than an inch of rain. The Los Angeles Times reported on this as well." George responded.

"So the theory is that the trees are producing more flowers, and therefore more seeds, in an effort to propagate its species, to try and survive with less rain. Let's hope it works because right now, the Joshua Trees are in decline."


George showed us another place called Hall of Horrors, where the Joshua Trees were also in bloom or had already gone to seed.

"Look at this," George exclaimed. "So many blooms at once. I've talked to some of the older locals, and none of them can recall a time like this."

"It's know, something as grim as the possible continued decline of the Joshua Trees can produce something so beautiful...." George trailed off.

Lisa asked, "Hey, does anyone wanna go get some grub at Pappy and Harriet's before I See Hawks in LA comes on?"

George enthusiastically raised his hand, saying that he really loved the Santa Maria-style BBQ.

So later that evening, after eating delicious food at the bar, George swung from the rafters and danced on the stage as I See Hawks in LA performed songs spanning their 13-year career.

Here's a photo of...well, it's not really a set list, but rather, a list of songs that Rob or other members of the band could choose from. George kept shouting out "Humboldt", but alas, it was not to be.

Paul Lacques, guitar wizard of I See Hawks in LA, wonders if George will stop swinging from the rafters.

Paul, bassist and former singer of Strawberry Alarm Clock, provides some of those gorgeous sun-dappled California harmonies that make the band sound so right, so good.

Rob of I See Hawks in LA.

14 April 2013 Sunday:
The next morning, Lisa, George and I decided to check out Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in nearby Morongo.

For some reason, we had never gone to the desert oasis before. But we were impressed by its beauty, and wowed by its marshes. George even became a bit homesick for his old home in the stuffed monkey jungle while walking around the marshes.


Big Morongo Canyon Preserve oasis is located at the base of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The Preserve is there to protect rare and endangered wildlife. It was a bit unusual to hear frogs in a swamp in the middle of the desert. George found the boardwalk through the marsh and riparian habitats easy to walk on so he wouldn't get his stuffed monkey feet wet, and enjoyed the cool shade of the cottonwood trees and other trees. A rare treat for all. We all agreed that going on the 8-mile long canyon hike in the near future would be fun. Moving on, we stopped off at Hadley's for our desert tradition of drinking date shakes on the drive home, and offered some wishes for the propagation of the glorious Joshua Trees.

Ken's photos of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as photos of Peru, Burma, India, Morocco, China, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, and elsewhere, have appeared in many books, magazines, websites, and galleries.  Visit the Ken Lee Photography Website. Some of Ken's select photos may be purchased through his Imagekind Store.

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Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2013 - Record Blooms, I See Hawks in LA, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve

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