July, 2008

Not a drop of rain in July and the meter man replacing the meter on the house and messing up the watering timers put a lot of stress on
portions of the yard.  The Achilles Heel out here is the watering system and I am not entirely sure what can be done about that.

Wild Flower Bed
The most established plants did ok.  The wild flower patch still looks anemic and we decided to try a two pronged strategy which involves leaving the end of the year detritus in the patch to discourage quail from eating all the seeds, and planting a lot more day lilies.  

Day lilies from local providers are not cheap so I set about trying to find someone who sold in bulk, finally finding a place in down south which sold 50 plants for $2.00 apiece.  It took a while to plant all fifty and in the midst of digging I discovered this:
Spadefoot Toad
Spadefoot Toad

How a spade foot toad could have made it into the wild flower patch is a testament  to the phrase 'Life finds a way'.  The toad would have have to made it past desert sand, dogs, cats, cars, asphalt, rocks and who knows what else to land here.  Spade foot toads are so named because they have hardened 'spades' on their hind legs which allows them to dig into the ground backwards, covering themselves up during the daylight hours. The toad is obviously well fed so there are probably other critters in the bed I am unaware of as well.
Erygnium - Sea Holly
Erygnium - Sea Holly
Erygnium - Sea Holly
Erygnium - Sea Holly

One hears about the pollinators disappearing and that is certainly not apparent when it comes to Erygnium, or Sea Holly.  Bees and wasps
love these plants.  They have no detectable scent but on any given day these are in bloom, one can see a cloud of insects on these plants
from 50 feet away.

Wisteria in Bloom in July?
Mr Lincoln
One  of the stranger sites this July was seeing Wisteria in bloom.  Wisteria is generally the first to bloom in early spring.  It blooms before the vine has leaves.  Must be global warming.  Mr. Lincoln continued to provide some blooms, even in the hottest parts of the month, which was all month.
Fly Catcher?
Fly Catcher?
One day a flock of 12 or so of these passed through.  I am guessing these are some kind of  Fly Catcher.  Perhaps someone can identify them.  Birds seem to be flocking up earlier than usual.  I wonder if an early winter is in store.
Puncture Vine
Puncture Vine
Puncture vines are the nemesis of the northwest.  I usually keep them under control but I missed a number of them this year. The one on the left is close to four feet in diameter.  I have seen these so thick in some areas that to clean them up you have to take a spade and cut off the roots, rolling them up as you would a carpet.
Hardy Hibiscus
The Hardy Hibiscus on the left has been a good performer year after year and is about six inches in diameter.  
The Hibiscus on the right  can be grown in the Midwest. Some of these reach dinner plate size.

Cactaceae Cylindropuntia Imbricata
I've about given up on the Rugosa rose hedge so in its place, I am starting a Cactaceae Cylindropuntia Imbricata hedge.  A branch of the big cactus collapsed last year so I took some starts from it for future use. I have spares, by the way. The other green plant is another bane of the northwest - Red Root Pig Weed.  The small opuntia on the right has been really growing this year.  Another plant from NotoLover.  
Brussel Sprouts
Brussel Sprouts
The Brussels Sprout plants continue to grow larger and larger.  Never tried these.  Baby sprouts are now appearing at the juncture of every leaf to the stem.  I thought these were cold weather crops and would probably die when it got hot.   These seem to have no problem. Going to have a ton of  sprouts next month by the looks of it.
Cairn Terrier
Crab Spider
Two predators vigorously protecting the yard.                                      One of them is, anyway.
The deck is starting to look really nice. If you haven't tried Super Thrive, give it a try.
TC recovered nicely from surgery. He is back to his old self. I wouldn't happen to have another chewie, would I?

A Bridge to Nowhere

Nevada's very own Bridge to Nowhere

What's wrong with this picture?

Here is the history as I understand it, bearing in mind that I have not paid much attention at all to the boondoggle which has been going on for several years. This is probably not entirely factually correct but it makes for a good story anyway.

Some ten years ago when Las Vegas decided to build a family oriented theme town, Reno dismissed the idea as one of the stupider ploys to get more tourist dollars. We all know what happened and once again Reno was left in the dust.

Somewhere further down the road and losing tourist dollars to Las Vegas and the Indian casinos, Reno decided it needed to do something really special to attract more tourism to the area.

A brilliant scheme was conceived to construct what was to be the largest spanning bridge of its type in if not the world, the United States.  This bridge was to be constructed as part of the Highway 395 bypass from Reno to and through Carson City.

Engineering plans were drawn up and a constructor was chosen to build the bridge. The city watched with bated breath as the first pilings were sunk into the ground. Many photographers and reporters were on hand over the weeks to witness the beginning of this engineering wonder.

Several months later construction stopped and after noticing no progress, I decided to ask around to see what was going on.  Turned out the constructor backed out of the job.  Now why would a contractor back out of a job which would end up being the engineering wonder of Reno, if not the world.  They must have had a good reason.

They did.

The constructor's own engineers upon examining the job in detail concluded that while they believed engineering was sound, they did not believe they could construct the bridge span safely. Human life would be at risk.

Now how could that possibly be?

The reason was the gale-force winds which routinely blow through the valley, overturning semi's that didn't heed the wind advisories. Wind coming through valley between the two hills supporting the the bridge span could create a funnel effect, amplifying already windy conditions and imperiling the safety of the construction crews.

This is why you don't take shelter from a tornado under a bridge. Same principle.

The constructor backed out of the job and there the bridge pilings sat for well over a year while the city of Reno scratched their collective heads over what to do next.

What happened next was an astounding leap of logic. 

If wind was the problem, why not remove the wind. 

What if the area below the bridge was filled with dirt or some other filler material negating the wind factor? Would this not work?

I suppose at this point I could mention the obvious and point out that backfilling the space between two hills sort of negates the purpose of having a bridge in the first place.

Some months later Reno decided that backfilling under the bridge was the way to go but they neglected to consider the environmental impact of such a decision.  Environmentalists were quick to point out that the area between the two hills was a natural waterway for spring runoff and blocking that would create a lake on the other side of the hill, drying up the Carson Valley.

Was the city prepared to create not only a bridge, but a dam as well? 

A flurry of lawsuits were threatened should Reno decide to pursue their latest plan.

Some months later an agreement was reached whereby the new contractor would erect a temporary
barrier under the bridge, allowing the safe completion of same.

The barrier would be removed upon completion of the bridge, revealing Reno's 8th wonder of the world in all its glory.

This started out as costing somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 million.  Estimates range as high as 2 billion to complete.

The picture above shows the bridge in its current state, three years later.

Small towns.........gotta love'em