Visiting Westworld

In search of Westworld

Do you enjoy watching the HBO series Westworld? When I first watched the show, I wondered where some of the stunning outdoor shots had been filmed. Interesting land features and sunny skies serve as a backdrop in this series. I found out that several filming locations were in Utah so we visited them on a recent trip.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah 3May2017

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Origins of Westworld

This series is based on the 1973 Westworld movie, written and directed by Michael Crichton. In this sci-fi classic, wealthy tourists visit an Old West-themed amusement park where they can indulge in any of their fantasies with no consequences. The “hosts” in the park appear to be human but they are actually androids. Though the skies appear to always be sunny, there are dark plot twists involving the hosts in both the movie and the series.

Castle Valley near Moab, Utah 4May2017

Castle Valley near Moab, Utah

Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy worked on the screenplay for the new series. It debuted on HBO in October of 2016. You may have heard of Jonathan’s brother, Christopher Nolan. The two of them co-wrote the screenplays for The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and several other successful films. Jonathan worked as a writer, director, and executive producer on the Westworld series, roles he also held for the Person of Interest series. Continue reading

Rock Show – Madras, Oregon

We just got back from the Rock, Gem, and Mineral Show in Madras. I overheard someone say there were 135 vendors this year so it took a while to see everything. This is the 68th year of this event. It is sponsored by the The All Rockhounds Pow-wow Club of America, Inc. Prices for the rocks, gems, and minerals range from one dollar to hundreds of dollars. Parking, admission, and entertainment is free. The show takes place June 22-25.

Here are a few pictures I took today at the event. Do I know what the name is of everything I show in these pictures? No! I have always liked pretty rocks even if I don’t know what they are.  If you go to a big rock show like this, someone there can likely identify what’s there for you and tell you all about them. They may even tell a tale or two about the adventure they had when collecting them.

 

Peek-a-boo view

Northern flicker in western juniper nest 19June2017

Some birds you hear long before you see them. I was happy to follow the sound of a northern flicker’s calls to discover it was nesting on our property. Here it is peeking out from its nest cavity in a western juniper tree. Their markings are loud and sharp – just like their calls. I know the birds won’t be in their nest for long, but I am glad to catch glimpses of them glimpsing at me.

Northern Flicker2 11-14-2015

Weekly Photography Challenge – Transient

Water wise gardening: Growing more with less

Xeriscaping

Have you ever seen a plant out in nature and thought to yourself, “Wow, I wish I could have that in my yard!”

Mountain mahogany in the wild, Great Basin National Park, Nevada 8May2017

Mountain mahogany in the wild

Mountain mahogany in landscape 13June2017

Gray rabbitbrush (transplant) and mountain mahogany in landscape

Well sometimes you can and if you include certain types of plants, you’ll benefit in several ways including:

  • Saving $$$ on your water bill.
  • Ensuring that your garden plantings survive and thrive.
  • Attracting wildlife.
  • Spending less time on maintenance.
California Quail near prickly poppy and green rabbitbrush 25may2017

California Quail near prickly poppy and green rabbitbrush

Water wise gardening, otherwise known as xeriscaping, incorporates plants that require less water. The plants can be native to the area or from other areas with similar environments. There are hundreds of these types of plants that can be incorporated into your garden.

Deciding what to plant 

You need to consider the environment where you live. I live at an elevation of 3,400 feet in an area that gets about 10 inches of precipitation per year. Water is a precious resource here.

Desert primrose in the wild, Fort Rock, Oregon 9June2017

Desert primrose in the wild

Desert primrose in landscape 29May2017

Desert primrose in landscape

When deciding what to plant, you can start by going to a local plant nursery.  You could also check out information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension System. Click here to find resources in your state. Local sources can tell you more about water requirements for different plants and what grows there, soil types and amendments, how to water efficiently, what mulches to use, and how to maintain your landscape.

Purple sage in the wild, Gray Butte, Oregon 15May2016

Purple sage in the wild

Purple sage in landscape 14June2017

Purple sage in landscape

Plan and design your landscape before you start purchasing plants. Consider establishing “zones” where plants have the same soil, light, and water requirements. Figure out what type of watering system you want to have. We use a drip irrigation system to target the plants with limited amounts of water. If you choose plants that grow well in your environment, they may require very little water once they are established.

Finding water wise plants

Find a source for getting plants that grow best in your area. I am very lucky to live near Wintercreek Restoration and Nursery, a nursery that specializes in native plants. I have also successfully transplanted drought tolerant native plants from other parts of my property. Some plants, like buckwheat, are more successful if raised from seed. Native plants may not need additional soil amendments when you plant them. Be sure to mulch around plants after planting them and do maintenance as needed.

Oregon sunshine "volunteers" in landscape 12June2017

Oregon sunshine “volunteers” in landscape

Oregon sunshine in landscape 12June2017

Oregon sunshine transplant in landscape

It can be a daunting task to get started with a water wise landscape design. You can hire a landscape designer or do it yourself. We have done it ourselves using local resources. I often buy plants that are small because they cost less. Last year my garden looked kind of pitiful. It takes time for the landscape to mature so I have to remind myself to be patient. This year, even after a heavy snowfall winter, the plants are much bigger so I am beginning to see their potential. Yay!

Beavertail cactus propagated from one leaf next to fringed sage 12June2017

Beavertail cactus propagated from one leaf next to fringed sage

Blurry songster

Out of focus but in tune

I recently heard a complicated and beautiful birdsong but it took me a minute to locate the singer. Though the photo I took turned out to be one of a blurry songster, the mockingbird’s song was loud and clear. Be sure to visit this site to hear it – Northern Mockingbird’s song. No wonder its Latin name translates to “many-tongued mimic.”

Northern mockingbird 7May2017

Northern mockingbird Mimus polyglottos

Weekly Photo Challenge – Focus

A story in layers

Land forms of the Moenkopi Formation at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 5May2017

Land forms of the Moenkopi Formation at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Land forms at Capitol Reef National Park

The landscape at Capitol Reef National Park tells many stories in colorful layers of rock. The darker columns in the picture above are part of the Moenkopi Formation and it is 225 million years old.

The sedimentary layers of rock in this picture consist of silt, sand, clay, and gravel. The bands of gray and burgundy are made up of volcanic ash. The 700 foot thick layer at the base of the cliffs is the Chinle Formation. That formation contains a lot of petrified wood.

I was impressed by contrasting colors and textures at this park. If you take a trip to Utah, don’t overlook this park. There are a lot of hiking trails here and a short scenic drive.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Order