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                   Friday, December 15, 2017

California trip landscape photos - November 2017

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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During the San Andreas Fault expedition last month, didn't do any sightseeing other than of the fault itself. I passed within easy distances of landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, downtown Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park and New Mexico's Zuni-Bandera volcanic field, but in the end, I just did not have time to make the diversions to go see them. However, there was some interesting scenery encountered along the routes I took, so I thought I would devote a blog post to them.

A BNSF double-stack train passes in front of a mesa on the southern end of the Tohajiilee reservation west of Albuquerque, New Mexico:

BNSF double-stack train in front of a mesa on the southern end of the Tohajiilee reservation west of Albuquerque, New Mexico
click to enlarge

Albuquerque was one place I wish I had more time to explore on this trip. This is a panorama of the city and the Sandia mountains from the west of town:

Albuquerque, New Mexico panorama
click for larger version

Mountains near Cubero, New Mexico, again along I-40:

Mountains near Cubero, New Mexico
click to enlarge

Panorama of Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, looking southwest from Wallace Creek on the San Andreas Fault:

Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain National Monument
click for larger version

View on I-40 westbound into Flagstaff, Arizona:

Interstate 40 westbound into Flagstaff, Arizona
click to enlarge

Panorama of the Temblor Range along the Carrizo Plain near Soda Lake, California:

Temblor Range along the Carrizo Plain near Soda Lake, California
click to enlarge

Mojave Desert scenes along I-40 west of Needles, California:

Mojave Desert near Fenner, CA
click to enlarge

Mojave Desert near Fenner, CA
click to enlarge

In California's Central Valley, the thickness of smog and haze was really hard to believe. It was just like fog, but gray instead of white with a ubiquitous smell hinting of both smoke and vehicle exhaust. At night, it was thick enough to mask distant lights, and sometimes was dense enough that I could see it in my own headlights. Apparently this is worse in the cool season when a long-term inversion settles into the valley, and much of the particulates come from agricultural burning. Experiencing this, I can't fault most Californians for being strong environmentalists - I would be too if I had to breathe this day in and day out! I've never personally seen pollution on this level before.

The thickness of the smog was most apparent when viewing it from above, like from here along Hudson Ranch Road south of Maricopa:

Smog and haze viewed from mountains near Maricopa, CA
click to enlarge

Smog and haze viewed from mountains near Maricopa, CA
click to enlarge

And viewed here from McKittrick:

Smog and haze viewed from McKittrick, CA
click to enlarge

Here, the smog and haze nearly obscure the Temblor Range near Taft, creating the illusion of "phantom" mountains:

Smog and haze masking mountains near Taft, CA
click to enlarge

Contrast this with normal fog, viewed from the same road as those first two smog images (Hudson Ranch Road) looking in the opposite direction (to the west):

Fog over Los Padres National Forest near Maricopa, CA
click to enlarge

Back in New Mexico near Prewitt:

Mesa near Prewitt, New Mexico
click to enlarge

Texas-New Mexico state line westbound on I-40:

Texas-New Mexico state line

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