I can remember planning trips in the summertime when the monsoon season was at it's peak, probably the beginning of August and looking forward to traveling to any points east as long as it was towards Arizona and away from California. I'd always look forward to that eventual Friday afternoon/evening when the day finally came to take off on our road adventure. I could hardly concentrate on work that day since the trip next week was so overwhelming all other thought processes. Heading out on Hwy 74 and leaving the San Jacinto Mountains finally coming to Indio, CA and turning right onto the eastbound on Dillion Road to that on ramp of Interstate 10 leaving Indio. The feeling was exhilarating knowing I was leaving California heading for that state line to explore the Arizona outback somewhere to a place I had never been to and only read about from my monthly subscription of Arizona Highways. As fun as the trip was, it was mostly that first day's drive I actually enjoyed the most. It was like a long anticipated excitement of seeing a blockbuster film coming to the local Cinema, except this time Nature was going to put on the performance tonight, not Hollywood.
During the monsoon season, the mountains generally have their activity during the day and unless there is some unusual weather anomalies packed with extra energy it'll always stay quiet till the next day's afternoon. But out over the deserts the heat still has an energy output about it with it's warm powerful uplifts and the thunderstorms are usually at their most potent moments. You rarely see many of these storms in the middle of the day like you do at higher elevations, not that they can't happen, they can. But the norm has always been a nighttime event from my experience. Once we reach the top of of Chiriaco Summit on I-10, we begin to see the shows previews. Almost amazingly these storms would be right about the border along the California/Arizona stateline as if there were some sort of invisible energy barrier preventing them from further westward advancement. Days prior to leaving of course I'd always be checking the weather forecasts seeing if the conditions were right for the trip's monsoonal experience. Sure enough I wouldn't be disappointed
Since I'm no longer in the desert and mountains areas of the southwestern USA, the Southern California Weather Authority has been my next best virtual Nature entertainment venue for the real thing. Love that graphic. Weather reports like this one from the Southern California Weather Authority back in May of this year 2012 were common and beautifully illustrate the horseshoe pattern of Thunderstorm lines along the CA & AZ border regions. This is often the typical pattern as evidenced by storm patterns thus far 2012.
|Photo by Blitzo - Mountain Project|
|Freeway heading east towards the border of |
California and Arizona
Once we turned off at the Rte 60 Junction near the first tiny community of Brenda, it was usually from this point on that we'd really hit the heavier stuff. However until the heavy rains were encountered, rolling down the window and allowing the fragrance of Croesote Bush to permeate the car's interior was a must. Oddly enough the scent is reminiscent of a highway's asphalt, but with a clearly distinct refreshing energizing effect on the senses. This plant actually has some interesting natural medicinal properties. It was once utilized heavily by the Herbal Industry who actually mistakenly call it Chaparral which is merely a plant community, but was also banned by the FDA whose bed fellows at the Pharmaceutical industry were disturbed by it's potential at detoxifying the body and gradually reversing cancer. It's since been unbanned.
Usually we'd hit heavy rain at Harcuvar just before Salome AZ. At Salome we'd break to let the storm pass, refilled my large king-sized plastic Texico Coffee Refill Mug, hit the Salome Cafe's antiquated Loo Office to finish some paperwork and back out on the road again. Then we'd hit another squall line of rain between Wenden to the north and Aquila.
|Wow, who knew ??|
And the perfect chair for me was a rounded saucer bowl shaped Rattan swivel chair which was technically called a Papasan Swivel Rocker style chair. This chair to me was/is the most perfect chair for me. I could dump all living room furniture and live with only a lamp and this chair. Fortunately I'm married and as a result civilized and not single and neanderthal. It had a heavy base much like the common Rattan Swivel Rocker with the arms like the photo to the right here. The only exception was of course the chair itself which was saucer or teacup shaped with a giant heavy duty canvas cushion pouch pillow in the center. This pouch-like cushion would conform to anyone's shape or size. I often would come home from work hot and tired and slink down into this comfortible pillow and almost fall fast asleep. Okay so I did fall asleep quite often. But viewing thunderhead cloud formations from this vantage point and with just the proper equipment made this time of year the most perfect of all the seasons.
I'd often curse the wintertime when on that same deck in a January we experienced hurricane force Santa Ana winds from the northeast with frigid near Zero Temps blowing off the snowcapped El Toro Peak to the east which would cause me to wonder what am I doing here ??? Then of course every summer I was reminded why. Yes, I miss Anza.
I am very serious about cloud formation and thunderstorm anomalies. Clearly there are intriguing questions like why in all the mountains or deserts in certain specific regions or locations within those regions does it chance rain more there than other places ? What causes the clouds to form quicker on some locations before moving onto others. While there is a observational sense of randomness to it all, you'd be surprised how ultimately very organized, and conveyor belt mechanical these formations can really be. I'll have some charts and diagrams and other illustrations later and will incorporate vegetation's influence on it all. Enjoy the season in the mean time.
Monsoonal Cloud Formation & Rainfall References:
Earth's Vegatation Effects Global Cloud Formations
Earth's Internet: Electrical Conductivity of Trees