TORREYA TAXIFOLA - NORTH FLORIDA

Left from Rock Bluff on a dirt road to TORREYA STATE PARK, 15.5 m. on the Apalachicola River. This 520-acre park was named for the evergreen Torreya taxifola, rarest species of the genus Torreya, found here and for 10 miles south along the eastern bank of the river. Because of the unpleasant odor when bruised, the tree is known as ‘stinking cedar.’ Two other varieties grow in Japan and California, but both differ in size, leaves and color of fruit from the Florida tree, which rises in pyramidal form to a height of 40 feet.

Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State (WPA, 1939) [Find it at a library near you.]

Torreya State Park is about an hour west of Tallahassee, the state’s capital in northwest Florida, where I currently live. The park opened in 1935, a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal, public work relief program. Its namesake, the Torreya taxifolia, or “gopher wood,” is a small coniferous tree that is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN). The numbers are staggering: “Before the start of the decline in the early 1950s, the population was estimated to have been more than 600,000 […] The current population is estimated to be between 500 and 600 trees.” Efforts to preserve and maintain the tree range from academic studies from conservation biologists [PDF] to a citizen biodiversity protection group who are “rewilding” the tree in and around Asheville, NC and other select locations.

The Florida Torreya is one of the many native Florida plants that are indigenous to the Big Bend—one of the the nation’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Many of the indigenous flora and fauna are endangered due to overdevelopment.

Guide Note: This dispatch was inspired by a personal project: an experiential auditory piece meant to invoke the physical and aural sensation of observing the T. taxifolia in its native landscape, the limestone hills of the Apalachicola River Basin, while it slowly disintegrates as a species. The author is collaborating with Josh Mason (Jacksonville) and Michael Diaz (Tallahassee). Photographs by Michael Diaz, images courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory project.

***

Micah Vandegrift is a Floridian who has not once been to Miami. He fell into academic librarianship after finishing a degree in American and Florida Studies wherein he wrote a thesis on Gainesville’s post-punk music scene. His dream vacation is to take an airboat ride through the Everglades, stop off in Gibsonton, catch a show at Weeki Wachee Springs, camp in the Dry Tortugas National Park, hang out with the bison on Paynes Prairie, catch a flick at the Silver Moon Drive In,  walk the trees at the Myakka River Canopy, and finish the trip with an Dipped Cone at Del’s Freez in his hometown of Melbourne, FL. Micah can be discovered all around the web, mostly rousing rabble about librarianship in the digital age. Find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.

INSECTS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO 

In all sections of the State are bugs and beetles, varying in size from the two-inch dark-shelled cockroach to the small round ladybird decked in her bright colors.  (…) 

Butterflies, moths, and flies of many colors and varieties occur throughout the State.  (…)  Lightning bugs hover over the prairie meadows, and Colorado’s dry sunny climate and abundance of flowers find favor with more than seven hundred kinds of bees.

—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

A bug-eye level look at Colorado State insects for Field Assignment #2 - Flora and Fauna from Amadee Ricketts, your Guide to the West:

Southwest Colorado is a funny mix of high desert and mountains. With milder winters and fewer violent storms than the Front Range (east of the Rockies), it is home to an incredible variety of insects and spiders, though most of them aren’t as showy as these.

In summertime, bees and butterflies are everywhere, drawn to wildflowers and waterAnts and ant mimics, dragonflies, weevils, and sneaky little mosquitoes turn up where you least expect them. Flies and spiders stay around even after the first frost. 

* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.

A FOREST IN THE BRONX - NEW YORK, NEW YORK

A half-hour’s ride from Times Square ends in a rural stillness foreign to the crowded city. The quiet is heightened by the splash of waterfalls and the call of birds, while the slanting sunshine is broken into mazy patterns by hemlock, oak, and sassafras.

New York City Guide (WPA, 1939)

As we type this, we sit only that mere subway ride away from The New York Botanical Garden. After reading their gorgeous dispatch for American Guide Week, it is taking much restraint not to slip out of work and catch the last light of the afternoon filtering down on their woodland trails.  

Of the five boroughs of New York City, the Bronx is arguably the greenest, with over 7,000 acres of parkland, which means around 25% of the borough’s land is set aside for recreation and relaxation.

And what’s more, 50-acres of that—our own Thain Family Forest—is the largest remaining remnant of the primeval forests which once covered the entirety of New York City before colonization. This un-cut, old growth woodland was once home to the Lenape Indians, and today is home to an assortment of native animals and plants and the scientists who study them.

The Forest contains over a mile of hiking trails which weave along and over the Bronx River. The Bronx River is New York City’s only freshwater river (the Hudson River is a fjord and is tidal up to Troy, and the East River is a tidal straight connecting to the Long Island Sound) and is home to New York City’s only beaver population, and a returned population of alewife, as well as an assortment of waterfowl and other local fish, reptiles, and amphibians. At certain special events held at the Garden, and in conjunction with our partners at the Bronx River Alliance, it is possible to canoe on the river, though there is a portage around the waterfall and gorge.

The Forest, and the adjacent woodland of the Native Plant Garden, is home to an important collection of deciduous trees including newly reintroduced American Chestnuts, the incredibly tall London planes, many varieties of maple, birch, and oak, along with sweetgum, tulip trees, and hickory, and populations of troubled species like hemlocks, elm, and ash. The Forest also contains an important collection of conifers. In addition, the understory is populated by beautiful native shrubs and small trees including shadbush, eastern redbud, dogwood, American hazelnut, and home to a beautiful display of spring ephemeral wildflowers. See a complete listing of all the plants in the Thain Family Forest here.

The animals that call the Thain Family Forest home are every bit as diverse and interesting as the plants that serve as their homes and food. In addition to the very famous beavers, the Forest is also home to a population of great-horned owls with a penchant for nesting in trees that allow for easy observation—a rarity in any forest, let alone one situated in the middle of a city! The owls are joined by many, many other birds, including red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, saw-whet owls, barred owls, a gorgeous array of migrating warblers, cheeky chickadees, hummingbirds, turkeys, herons, ducks, and so many more! In addition, keep an eye out for muskrats, snapping turtles, black squirrels, raccoons, and even the occasional fox. Don’t bet on seeing all these animals when you visit though. Many of them are very shy and will only come out at night. But the most important thing is this: Please do not feed the animals, and please do not approach them or try to pet them. We want them to stay wild forever!

So, I do hope that our guide to the flora and fauna of the Thain Family Forest has enticed you to come visit us. The easiest way to reach the Garden is by Metro-North Rail Road on the Harlem Line from Grand Central Terminal. It is an approximately 22-minute ride that lets you off at Botanical Garden Station, directly across from our entrance. We’re always happy to answer your questions, so feel free to drop us a line. The Forest is beautiful in all seasons, yes, even in winter! So don’t let cooler temperatures dissuade you. I hope to see you on the trails soon! ~AR

Photos by NYBG photograher Ivo M. Vermeulen, and from the digital archives of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library.

COLDWATER LAKE AT MOUNT ST. HELENS - WASHINGTON

Lewis and Clark, who camped near the mouth of the Lewis River below Sauvies Island in November 1805, describe in their Journal their view of the peak some 70 miles upstream: “Three miles below the Image Canoe Island…we had a full view of the mountain…[Mount St. Helens]; it rises in the form of a sugar loaf to a great height, and is covered with snow.”

Washington, A Guide To the Evergreen State (WPA, 1941)

Upon driving up the winding road to the observation deck at Mount St. Helens you notice the immensity of the explosion that happened over 30 years ago. The surrounding landscape still has fallen trees. It looks barren. Tour guides tell groups of people about the amount of volcanic destruction.

But oddly enough, the mountain’s eruption created new freshwater lakes nearby. One such lake, known as Coldwater Lake, had at one time been just a small stream. The landslide dammed it and created the lake. Right after the explosion Coldwater was full of mud and debris, but due to fast acting microbes the lake became clear and even drinkable in just a matter of years.

* * *

Zak Long is a State Guide to California and his home state of Ohio.  Born in Cleveland, OH, and now residing in San Francisco, CA,  much of his photography and videography explore first hand accounts of American rail travel. You can follow him on his personal Tumblr, zaklong.tumblr.comand also on UC Research.

MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 
Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains. 
If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.
During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.
Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.
Guide Note:
From The Durango Herald, more about collecting forest products in San Juan National Forest.
* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info

MUSHROOM SEASON - SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, COLORADO 

Southwest Colorado is a mix of high desert and mountains.  It is generally arid, though winters can be snowy and summer monsoons can bring sudden, soaking rains

If the monsoon is good, dozens of varieties of mushrooms will pop up in the San Juan mountains in late summer.  Some mushrooms will still be around after the first snow, but the peak of the season lasts from mid-August through early September.

During mushroom season, you’ll see huge patches of Amanita muscaria, and king bolete (or porcino) mushrooms as big as a plate, along with puffballs, chanterelles, and so many more.

Permits are required to take more than three pounds of mushrooms from the national forest, but the cost is nominal.  And looking is free.

Guide Note:

* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.

THE NORTH AMERICAN MONSOON - SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES
I first moved into the New Mexico high desert some years ago during the start of the monsoon season. Having come from water-rich Minnesota, I didn’t really fully understand its importance.
I vividly recall sitting in an office in full of people and hearing the first drops of rain hit our metal roof and then getting progressively louder and faster.  
One by one, each person in the office got up and walked outside until the entire office was standing under the awning staring, silently, at the rain as it fell and the air turned sweet with a strange earthy perfume I had never smelled.
This ritual was repeated every time it rained for the rest of the summer.
Come the next year, after four nearly cloudless months, I was in the office as the first monsoon rains began. Without even thinking about it I walked right outside and stared at the rain just like everyone else.
The North American Monsoon, otherwise known as the Mexican Monsoon or the Arizona Monsoon, is a pronounced weather pattern change over the Southwestern United States. It generally starts in early July and continues through mid-September.  
This seasonal pattern change brings moisture up from the Gulfs of California and Mexico. This departure from the normal west to east flow decreases rain on the Great Plains and increases rain on the east coast.  But most importantly, it brings the rains that bring the mountains and the deserts of the Southwest to life.
The coming of the monsoon ends the dry and clear skies of May and June and begins a daily pattern of slowly building giant clouds until the early afternoon and then, if you are lucky, it might rain a little.  
But more often than not it doesn’t.  
When it does, it lifts everyone’s mood at once and it becomes the most fascinating thing you have ever seen.
* * *

At-Large Guide to the West James Orndorf was born in Minnesota, but knew at a very young age that the future lay out west. He is currently photographing and illustrating outside of Durango, Colorado. You can see what he’s up to at inlandwest.tumblr.com and roughshelter.com.
Zoom Info
THE NORTH AMERICAN MONSOON - SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES
I first moved into the New Mexico high desert some years ago during the start of the monsoon season. Having come from water-rich Minnesota, I didn’t really fully understand its importance.
I vividly recall sitting in an office in full of people and hearing the first drops of rain hit our metal roof and then getting progressively louder and faster.  
One by one, each person in the office got up and walked outside until the entire office was standing under the awning staring, silently, at the rain as it fell and the air turned sweet with a strange earthy perfume I had never smelled.
This ritual was repeated every time it rained for the rest of the summer.
Come the next year, after four nearly cloudless months, I was in the office as the first monsoon rains began. Without even thinking about it I walked right outside and stared at the rain just like everyone else.
The North American Monsoon, otherwise known as the Mexican Monsoon or the Arizona Monsoon, is a pronounced weather pattern change over the Southwestern United States. It generally starts in early July and continues through mid-September.  
This seasonal pattern change brings moisture up from the Gulfs of California and Mexico. This departure from the normal west to east flow decreases rain on the Great Plains and increases rain on the east coast.  But most importantly, it brings the rains that bring the mountains and the deserts of the Southwest to life.
The coming of the monsoon ends the dry and clear skies of May and June and begins a daily pattern of slowly building giant clouds until the early afternoon and then, if you are lucky, it might rain a little.  
But more often than not it doesn’t.  
When it does, it lifts everyone’s mood at once and it becomes the most fascinating thing you have ever seen.
* * *

At-Large Guide to the West James Orndorf was born in Minnesota, but knew at a very young age that the future lay out west. He is currently photographing and illustrating outside of Durango, Colorado. You can see what he’s up to at inlandwest.tumblr.com and roughshelter.com.
Zoom Info
THE NORTH AMERICAN MONSOON - SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES
I first moved into the New Mexico high desert some years ago during the start of the monsoon season. Having come from water-rich Minnesota, I didn’t really fully understand its importance.
I vividly recall sitting in an office in full of people and hearing the first drops of rain hit our metal roof and then getting progressively louder and faster.  
One by one, each person in the office got up and walked outside until the entire office was standing under the awning staring, silently, at the rain as it fell and the air turned sweet with a strange earthy perfume I had never smelled.
This ritual was repeated every time it rained for the rest of the summer.
Come the next year, after four nearly cloudless months, I was in the office as the first monsoon rains began. Without even thinking about it I walked right outside and stared at the rain just like everyone else.
The North American Monsoon, otherwise known as the Mexican Monsoon or the Arizona Monsoon, is a pronounced weather pattern change over the Southwestern United States. It generally starts in early July and continues through mid-September.  
This seasonal pattern change brings moisture up from the Gulfs of California and Mexico. This departure from the normal west to east flow decreases rain on the Great Plains and increases rain on the east coast.  But most importantly, it brings the rains that bring the mountains and the deserts of the Southwest to life.
The coming of the monsoon ends the dry and clear skies of May and June and begins a daily pattern of slowly building giant clouds until the early afternoon and then, if you are lucky, it might rain a little.  
But more often than not it doesn’t.  
When it does, it lifts everyone’s mood at once and it becomes the most fascinating thing you have ever seen.
* * *

At-Large Guide to the West James Orndorf was born in Minnesota, but knew at a very young age that the future lay out west. He is currently photographing and illustrating outside of Durango, Colorado. You can see what he’s up to at inlandwest.tumblr.com and roughshelter.com.
Zoom Info
THE NORTH AMERICAN MONSOON - SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES
I first moved into the New Mexico high desert some years ago during the start of the monsoon season. Having come from water-rich Minnesota, I didn’t really fully understand its importance.
I vividly recall sitting in an office in full of people and hearing the first drops of rain hit our metal roof and then getting progressively louder and faster.  
One by one, each person in the office got up and walked outside until the entire office was standing under the awning staring, silently, at the rain as it fell and the air turned sweet with a strange earthy perfume I had never smelled.
This ritual was repeated every time it rained for the rest of the summer.
Come the next year, after four nearly cloudless months, I was in the office as the first monsoon rains began. Without even thinking about it I walked right outside and stared at the rain just like everyone else.
The North American Monsoon, otherwise known as the Mexican Monsoon or the Arizona Monsoon, is a pronounced weather pattern change over the Southwestern United States. It generally starts in early July and continues through mid-September.  
This seasonal pattern change brings moisture up from the Gulfs of California and Mexico. This departure from the normal west to east flow decreases rain on the Great Plains and increases rain on the east coast.  But most importantly, it brings the rains that bring the mountains and the deserts of the Southwest to life.
The coming of the monsoon ends the dry and clear skies of May and June and begins a daily pattern of slowly building giant clouds until the early afternoon and then, if you are lucky, it might rain a little.  
But more often than not it doesn’t.  
When it does, it lifts everyone’s mood at once and it becomes the most fascinating thing you have ever seen.
* * *

At-Large Guide to the West James Orndorf was born in Minnesota, but knew at a very young age that the future lay out west. He is currently photographing and illustrating outside of Durango, Colorado. You can see what he’s up to at inlandwest.tumblr.com and roughshelter.com.
Zoom Info
THE NORTH AMERICAN MONSOON - SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES
I first moved into the New Mexico high desert some years ago during the start of the monsoon season. Having come from water-rich Minnesota, I didn’t really fully understand its importance.
I vividly recall sitting in an office in full of people and hearing the first drops of rain hit our metal roof and then getting progressively louder and faster.  
One by one, each person in the office got up and walked outside until the entire office was standing under the awning staring, silently, at the rain as it fell and the air turned sweet with a strange earthy perfume I had never smelled.
This ritual was repeated every time it rained for the rest of the summer.
Come the next year, after four nearly cloudless months, I was in the office as the first monsoon rains began. Without even thinking about it I walked right outside and stared at the rain just like everyone else.
The North American Monsoon, otherwise known as the Mexican Monsoon or the Arizona Monsoon, is a pronounced weather pattern change over the Southwestern United States. It generally starts in early July and continues through mid-September.  
This seasonal pattern change brings moisture up from the Gulfs of California and Mexico. This departure from the normal west to east flow decreases rain on the Great Plains and increases rain on the east coast.  But most importantly, it brings the rains that bring the mountains and the deserts of the Southwest to life.
The coming of the monsoon ends the dry and clear skies of May and June and begins a daily pattern of slowly building giant clouds until the early afternoon and then, if you are lucky, it might rain a little.  
But more often than not it doesn’t.  
When it does, it lifts everyone’s mood at once and it becomes the most fascinating thing you have ever seen.
* * *

At-Large Guide to the West James Orndorf was born in Minnesota, but knew at a very young age that the future lay out west. He is currently photographing and illustrating outside of Durango, Colorado. You can see what he’s up to at inlandwest.tumblr.com and roughshelter.com.
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THE NORTH AMERICAN MONSOON - SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES

I first moved into the New Mexico high desert some years ago during the start of the monsoon season. Having come from water-rich Minnesota, I didn’t really fully understand its importance.

I vividly recall sitting in an office in full of people and hearing the first drops of rain hit our metal roof and then getting progressively louder and faster. 

One by one, each person in the office got up and walked outside until the entire office was standing under the awning staring, silently, at the rain as it fell and the air turned sweet with a strange earthy perfume I had never smelled.

This ritual was repeated every time it rained for the rest of the summer.

Come the next year, after four nearly cloudless months, I was in the office as the first monsoon rains began. Without even thinking about it I walked right outside and stared at the rain just like everyone else.

The North American Monsoon, otherwise known as the Mexican Monsoon or the Arizona Monsoon, is a pronounced weather pattern change over the Southwestern United States. It generally starts in early July and continues through mid-September. 

This seasonal pattern change brings moisture up from the Gulfs of California and Mexico. This departure from the normal west to east flow decreases rain on the Great Plains and increases rain on the east coast.  But most importantly, it brings the rains that bring the mountains and the deserts of the Southwest to life.

The coming of the monsoon ends the dry and clear skies of May and June and begins a daily pattern of slowly building giant clouds until the early afternoon and then, if you are lucky, it might rain a little. 

But more often than not it doesn’t. 

When it does, it lifts everyone’s mood at once and it becomes the most fascinating thing you have ever seen.

* * *

At-Large Guide to the West James Orndorf was born in Minnesota, but knew at a very young age that the future lay out west. He is currently photographing and illustrating outside of Durango, Colorado. You can see what he’s up to at inlandwest.tumblr.com and roughshelter.com.

WHERE THE WHITE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE RED DESERT - SOUTHWEST WYOMING

At the conclusion of the Upper Cretaceous time all of the existing rock of the earth’s crust, throughout the Rocky Mountain region, was thrown by mountain-making movements into a succession of folds. The larger upwarped areas formed the mountainous areas and the intervening larger downwarps produced the basins… No part of Wyoming escaped these movements, although some areas were affected more intensely than others… While we can measure the thousands of feet of rock that have been removed from the crest of the mountains, we shall probably never know their maximum heights, for they were being reduced by erosion at the same time that they were being elevated.

Wyoming: A Guide to Its History, Highways and People (WPA, 1941)

Part of the Green River Formation, and containing hundreds of ancient carved figures within its sandstone walls, White Mountain is part of the Rock Springs uplift in southwestern Wyoming. Here it drops off into the high altitude Red Desert, measuring a vast 9,300 square miles. The Red Desert is home to rare elk herds, pronghorns, big horn sheep, wild horses and the Killpecker Sand Dunes, the largest living dune system in the U.S.

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KC O’Connor is a Guide to Wyoming for The American Guide. He’s a writer and photographer based in Lander, Wyoming. Follow him on Tumblr at kcowyo.tumblr.com and on Twitter.

HORN ANTENNA - BELL LABS HOLMDEL COMPLEX, NEW JERSEY

HORN ANTENNA has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

This site possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America. Scientists Arno Penzias and Bob Wilson with the antenna found the evidence confirming the “Big Bang” Theory of the creation of the universe, forever changing the science of cosmology.

The antenna is now used as a speaker at company picnics.

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Erin Chapman is co-editor of the American Guide.

GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY - LOS ANGELES, CA

The OBSERVATORY AND PLANETARIUM (open 11-11 weekdays, 2-11 Sun.; free; planetarium demonstrations 3 and 8:30 p.m. Daily; adm. 25¢), designed by John C. Austin, is built on a spur of foothills. Before the entrance is a dedicatory obelisk, designed by Archibald Garner, bearing the names and dates of the world’s great astronomers. Surmounting the shaft is the early astronomical instrument, the astrolabe. Inside the building are observatory exhibits, and a large model of the moon; a creeping light is thrown on it to represent the sun and reveal the changing shadows, mountains, craters, as they would appear from a distance of 500 miles. Other exhibits cover the fields of electricity, optics, spectroscopy, electronics, geology, and chemistry. At night the 12-inch refractor telescopes allow visitors a view of the celestial bodies.
— California, A Guide To the Golden State (WPA, 1939)

Guide note: Still an iconic building in Southern California, the hours and admissions policy of the Griffith Observatory have changed a bit since 1939. They are now open 12-10pm weekdays (Tuesday – Friday), 10am-10pm weekends, closed Monday. Admission to the Observatory building and grounds is free, but tickets to the planetarium’s shows range from $3.00-$7.00. Now showing in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater – The Once and Future Griffith Observatory, a 24-minute film narrated by Leonard Nimoy “provides an exciting and compelling introduction to the history and unique public offerings of the Observatory.” Show times – every hour on the hour.
* * *

Find Vanessa and Nick on Tumblr at shotonthespot and see the Southwest as they see it in realtime. 
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GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY - LOS ANGELES, CA

The OBSERVATORY AND PLANETARIUM (open 11-11 weekdays, 2-11 Sun.; free; planetarium demonstrations 3 and 8:30 p.m. Daily; adm. 25¢), designed by John C. Austin, is built on a spur of foothills. Before the entrance is a dedicatory obelisk, designed by Archibald Garner, bearing the names and dates of the world’s great astronomers. Surmounting the shaft is the early astronomical instrument, the astrolabe. Inside the building are observatory exhibits, and a large model of the moon; a creeping light is thrown on it to represent the sun and reveal the changing shadows, mountains, craters, as they would appear from a distance of 500 miles. Other exhibits cover the fields of electricity, optics, spectroscopy, electronics, geology, and chemistry. At night the 12-inch refractor telescopes allow visitors a view of the celestial bodies.
— California, A Guide To the Golden State (WPA, 1939)

Guide note: Still an iconic building in Southern California, the hours and admissions policy of the Griffith Observatory have changed a bit since 1939. They are now open 12-10pm weekdays (Tuesday – Friday), 10am-10pm weekends, closed Monday. Admission to the Observatory building and grounds is free, but tickets to the planetarium’s shows range from $3.00-$7.00. Now showing in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater – The Once and Future Griffith Observatory, a 24-minute film narrated by Leonard Nimoy “provides an exciting and compelling introduction to the history and unique public offerings of the Observatory.” Show times – every hour on the hour.
* * *

Find Vanessa and Nick on Tumblr at shotonthespot and see the Southwest as they see it in realtime. 
Zoom Info

GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY - LOS ANGELES, CA

The OBSERVATORY AND PLANETARIUM (open 11-11 weekdays, 2-11 Sun.; free; planetarium demonstrations 3 and 8:30 p.m. Daily; adm. 25¢), designed by John C. Austin, is built on a spur of foothills. Before the entrance is a dedicatory obelisk, designed by Archibald Garner, bearing the names and dates of the world’s great astronomers. Surmounting the shaft is the early astronomical instrument, the astrolabe. Inside the building are observatory exhibits, and a large model of the moon; a creeping light is thrown on it to represent the sun and reveal the changing shadows, mountains, craters, as they would appear from a distance of 500 miles. Other exhibits cover the fields of electricity, optics, spectroscopy, electronics, geology, and chemistry. At night the 12-inch refractor telescopes allow visitors a view of the celestial bodies.

California, A Guide To the Golden State (WPA, 1939)

Guide note: Still an iconic building in Southern California, the hours and admissions policy of the Griffith Observatory have changed a bit since 1939. They are now open 12-10pm weekdays (Tuesday – Friday), 10am-10pm weekends, closed Monday. Admission to the Observatory building and grounds is free, but tickets to the planetarium’s shows range from $3.00-$7.00. Now showing in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater – The Once and Future Griffith Observatory, a 24-minute film narrated by Leonard Nimoy “provides an exciting and compelling introduction to the history and unique public offerings of the Observatory.” Show times – every hour on the hour.

* * *

Find Vanessa and Nick on Tumblr at shotonthespot and see the Southwest as they see it in realtime. 

HASTINGS NATURAL RESERVE, CALIFORNIA

University of California has long been known as an innovative institution. The 1939 WPA guide to California referred to the university as a “home of celebrated scholars and a brilliant center of research,” and today, that tradition of research continues at UCLA, UC Berkeley and the other campuses across the state.    

One of the university’s invaluable resources is its nature reserve system - a network of protected land throughout the state where researchers and graduate students can conduct field studies. Hastings Natural Reserve is the oldest in the system. Its rich and unique history as a research station dates back to the 1930s when former farming land was offered to the University for biological fieldwork. The forward-thinking landowner and University staff and faculty allowed the 2700 acres of land to return to a natural state, and 80 years later, it’s become a great place for scientists to investigate anything from geology to phenology - the study of seasonal or periodic events in biology - with a focus on long term patterns in the environment.

We visited the reserve to interview Brian Haggerty, a UC Santa Barbara graduate student.  He’s one of the researchers working on the The California Phenology Project, an effort to track and keep record of plants as a way to monitor climate change. He conducted a workshop with thirty scientists from central California to talk about creating a statewide database for phenological events… or as he calls it “Facebook for plants.”  Brian and Vince Voegeli, the reserve manager, took some time to show us around Hastings and tell us a little bit about current research going on here along with the other reserves at UC.

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UC Research tells the stories of the innovative research emerging from the University of California. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and at ucresearch.tumblr.com, and find their website here.