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Nature Lovers

Meeting new people is a great travel perk. Every day on a recent trip “out west,” my husband and I met folks from many walks of life. Talking to them was like seeing the unexpected, colorful wildflowers on the Mojave Desert—happy memories to fall asleep to that night.

Indigobush (Psorothamnus fremontii) blooms in the Mojave Desert in springtime.

“Geo-glimpse” is a program designed for Junior Rangers visiting the Grand Canyon. On this occasion, as adults lined the perimeter of the room, children clustered around the large 3-D relief map and listened to the ranger explain geologic time via her outspread arms. As she explained the slow erosion process of wind and water on the rocks of the canyon, she likened this process to that of watching your fingernails grow. “Does anyone do that?” the ranger asked. Since no on raised his or her hand, she laughingly said, “Well, of course not, no one does that.” This answer inspired a thoughtful youngster to say, “Well, you could, but it would be really boring.”

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is photographed by people from all over the world.

On the other end of the age spectrum, there was a charming cleaning lady at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas that, like me, loves cactus blooms. “Which one is your favorite?” I asked her. “All them,” she said, “red, yellow, pink…”

Not far from where we stood, there were tables covered with white linens.

“Is there a wedding here soon?”


“Will you clean up?”


“Is that good or bad?”

“Oh, that’s good. It keeps me busy and that’s good. You’ve got to take pride in what you do. That’s what matters.”

Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris) lights up the Mojave Desert.

Northeast of Vegas and its Wheel-of-Fortune slot machines, lies Zion National Park in Utah, a national treasure. Along the Emerald Pools Trail, numerous healthy-looking parents toted wide-eyed babies in backpacks along the trails. One smiling young woman looked to be about 7 months pregnant and was gamely hiking along while her mate had a little one on his back. No bonnets for these babies! Girls and boys alike were fleece-capped and wrapped looking totally content.

People that get up early to watch the sun rise are a separate breed. Lots of people snap away at the pretty sunsets when they are well-fed and taking an evening stroll, but to get up in time to see a sunrise, often before coffee or breakfast, takes a pioneer spirit.

Ten people were already at the Zion Human History Museum when we walked behind the building, and several more arrived after we set up our cameras. In silence, we began to photograph the first rays of light coming in from the east. My fingers were cold and became colder still as I sat there snapping away for about 45 minutes. There were some people out in the field with tripods, two men to my left, and several more behind us.

Sunrise at Zion National Park in Utah.

As the mountains became more visible with light, people began to put away their cameras. It was over. One man to my left said he was going on over to the east side where the textures should be really great. Another man nearby said that he might just join him. Sunrise chasers.

People responding in positive ways to natural beauty inspire others to appreciate nature, too. This inspiration lifts our spirits and calls us to life beyond ourselves – like the skies, rocks, and wildflowers of the Mojave.

An unknown young man at the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.


©Rita Venable 2013

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