Vasquez Rocks Natural Area

3/19/17 Sunday in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

We, along with Len/Gloria, traveled to Vasquez Rocks Natural Area. This place is amazing and only a few miles from the campground. They were having a lecture on this area at the Women’s Club in Acton at 1pm, so that’s why the early meal. The Women’s Club was selling articles for their new building fund there. I took this opportunity to ask them about a dead beetle nearby that looked JUST like one that I’d encountered in the bathroom at Soledad Canyon. They explained that they have lots of those black beetles, that they’re stink bugs. They will spray a stink when they lift their rear ends as well as when you squash them dead. Ah…. The particular critter I saw happened to follow me to my stall and come very close. Let’s just say I sped up my process to get away from him.

Lecture 1

Stink Bug

The presenter, Sarah, was a home town gal who works at Vasquez Rocks. She was so much fun to listen to, we laughed a lot.

I want to share a couple of her stories.

The Yucca moth and Yucca plant. This image is of her slide in the presentation. It really explains the symbiotic process very well. People rarely see this moth because it lives borrowed in the ground.

Lecture 2

Something else I managed to remember from that story is that the Yucca will send up one tall shoot that blooms. That shoot is called a “peduncle”. When it dies, the whole plant dies. This area is covered with Juniper trees, Yucca plants and chemise plants. You’ll see some in my Vasquez Rocks photos.

Lichens: a love story between algae and fungi. This is another symbiotic relationship. The algae (think slimy stuff in stagnant water) can make food (via photosynthesis), but needs shade (a house) to survive. They are like the lady in the relationship. Fungi is a builder and can survive in very sunny or shady situations but it can’t make its food. It’s like the guy in the relationship. They “fall in love” creating their own genetic group/colony, evidenced by their unique color. Because of this relationship lichens are NOT parasitic, they do NOT take anything from the plant, rock or tree they are growing on. Spanish moss is one example. Here at Vasquez Rocks they cover lots of the rocks. I didn’t take any close ups of the lichen this time, but you can see those in my prior blog entry for Oct 31, 2016.

Those rocks were formed in a basin that had accumulated layers of sediment that had fallen down into the valley. Over millions of years this sediment accumulated in varying thicknesses. The area is filled with faults, enduring many earthquakes which push the sediment/rock up on one side, lowering it on the other. Only a small portion of that sediment shows above ground, as it happens with icebergs.

It was fun sharing this special place with Len/Gloria, especially with Len taking photos of us and sharing his pictures with me. Those with dates imprinted are his.

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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