Wildflowers and Wheelies

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BUD-ADJACENT BIKING: It's funny, in a not-funny way, how the desert wildflower season can pop up on the unsuspecting. One day people are thinking, "yeah, this is the year I'm going Death Valley, or Anza-Borrego, and I'll see what everyone's always talking about." And then, like, five seconds later, the blooms have bloomed and those here-for-a-moment flowers are gone. So planning for the late-winter-ish, springtime-ish event must start early. As in, now.

FURNACE CREEK CYCLES: Because of the vastness of Death Valley -- you've heard of its vastness, yes? -- a car is usually the way to go when it comes to flower peeping. But if you time it right, and you don't want to go too far afield, and you're staying at the Furnace Creek Resort, perhaps a day out on a cycle is your sort of adventure. They're $10/hour, and there are a lot of details and tips and safety to-knows.

MOST OF ALL: Be okay with the fact that desert wildflowers are a downright capricious bunch. They're hard to time, but that makes their briefness all the more special. We're all okay with nature having the upper hand in these matters, right? Good.

NOTE: You can follow updates at the NPS site; some verrry early flowerage was spotted on Jan. 20, 2011. Bigger shows are still weeks away. But stay nimble, is our advice.

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