California, May 2016

In May of 2016, I made a trip out west. First I went to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a nuclear physics experiment. Then I went to Ridgecrest, California to visit my parents.

Part of the crew at TRIUMF: myself, Annika, and Ohio University graduate students Som Paneru and Rekam Giri. TRIUMF is Canada's national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics and is located near the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver. I spent a week there but did not take a lot of photos.

Now on to California. My dad and I went road cruising on the first night.

A California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae). Not bad for the first snake of the trip.

Another California King.

Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus).

A Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei).

A Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans).

A bomber Glossy.

A Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola).

The rest of the photos were taken over the course of the few days I was in town.

A Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana).

One thing I did while in Ridgecrest was hike up to the top of Black Mountain, the south of town in the El Pasos at 5244'.

The view from the top of Black Mountain looking north. Inyokern and Ridgercest/China Lake are the green blobs in the distance. The Sheep Spring area is in the foreground. The colors and contrasts of the geology are amazing!

Looking northwest from the top of Black Mountain. The southern Sierras, including the Scodie Mountains and Owens Peak area, are visible in the distance.

A pretty Beavertail Pricklypear (Opuntia basilaris).

Dad, working on the swamp coolers. This man has no business messing around with ladders and roofs but he is stubborn. At least he let me help...

A Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), as found on a road after dark. This was the only one I saw all trip.

A Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes).

A Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) photographed from my vehicle.

A Great Basin Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores).

A Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus) that I rousted from under a rock during the daytime. I also saw a couple of these road cruising at night.

A Great Basin Whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris tigris).

Looking northwest from the top of Government Peak, the high point in the Rand Mountains. There is a communications tower there and you can drive all of the way up. The Fremont Valley and Garlock are in the foreground, the El Pasos are the closer mountain range, and the southern Sierras are in the distance.

A rather unique feature of the Rand Mountains is the Rand Schist which often presents its self in the form of nice flat slabs -- the type that are ideal for snakes to thermoregulate under when conditions are right. It was far too hot when I was there the other day.

Way back when (before I was born) my dad collected a bunch of these rocks to landscape our yard. There is an operation quarrying them now -- I saw two truck loads on their way out. The company, Sydney Peak Stone, has a nice webpage: If you scroll down you can see all of the pallets of perfect snake rocks!

A Great Basin Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores), photographed from my vehicle. Shown as spotted on a rock on the roadside berm.

I tried night hiking in this canyon. No reptiles were seen.

I did see many small mammals, including this Desert Woodrat (Neotoma lepida).

A Western Shovel-nosed Snake (Chionactis occipitalis), seen on the drive home.

Some curious burros.

A Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola), as spotted.

A Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater).

A Pacific Treefrog (Hyla regilla), in the shade under a rock.

Scenery and some signage left by the previous owners.

An interesting plant growing out of a rock.

The Tarantula Hawk wasps were attracted to these flowers.

Looking down the desert canyon.

Some tadpoles, probably Pacific Treefrogs.

A metamorph Pacific Treefrog (Hyla regilla).

Some random desert flowers.

I made one foray over to the west slope of the Sierras where some friends and I saw a few other snakes.

A Rubber Boa (Charina bottae).

A juvenile Rubber Boa.

A Striped Racer (Masticophis lateralis).

My parents on my last day in California.

It was a good trip, but I'm glad to be back home now.