Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

THE CENTURY PLANT — A SPECIES FOR ALL SEASONS

Agave-1©Bert Gildart: Several days ago on a hike through Moonlight Canyon, I thought I saw the last species to flower for the season, the fuchsia.  It was a surprise, then, to walk the nature trail at the Visitor Center of the Anza Borrego Desert Nature Center and see one of this region’s most conspicuous of plants; one of this region’s most written about species – in full bloom. At this time of year!

Towering about 30 feet overhead and back dropped by the San Jacinto Mountains, the agave – also known as century plant – beamed down on us with its yellow inflorescence.  Several years ago I accompanied retired superintendent Mark Jorgensen on a guided hike, and recall him saying that the agave was one of the most important species in the park, contributing to the creation by Native Americans in this park of over 5,000 roasting pits. On other hikes, we’d seen several.

It was a March hike, and at that time the species was putting forth blossoms, so several volunteers at the Visitor Center and I concluded that the flowering of the plant now in bloom was most likely due to much TLC bestowed by yet other volunteers.

AGAVE TO TEQUILA? YES INDEED

But no matter, the flowers were impressive and I recalled that Natives used virtually all parts of the species to include the flowers, which they made into a beverage.  Indians also used the plant’s fibers to make cloth, bowstrings and rope.  And the use I like best: In Mexico the species is fermented to make a drink called pulque, which might then be distilled to make tequila.

Its other name, century plant, is derived from the fact that 30, 40, perhaps even 100 years may pass before it blossoms. Apparently, the plant then dies.

Because that was most likely the case here I went to some lengths to obtain a pleasing composition.  Erecting my tripod I mounted a 600mm lens for the detailed image (because it was so far off the ground)  and a 200 mm lens for the more distant appearing picture.  In both cases I used a slow shutter speed complemented by a narrow aperture to increased depth of field.


Agave-2

Detail of century plant required 600mm lens, because of distance from ground


 


Though it all took time, little matter, for the agave is a significant park plant, and its blossoms may soon be gone.  If it ever blooms again, “a century” may pass.


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AIRSTREAM TRAVELS FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Ranger Do Not Want Guns in Our National Parks


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