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Morning photo: Flyover

West Coast-Denver flight a great geology lesson

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Salty Mono Lake is a unique inland sea in eastern California, and an enduring symbol of success for environmental advocacy, activism and education.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — I’m one of those annoying airplane passengers who always wants a window seat. If I don’t have one, I may be the guy next to you who leans across your lap to catch a glimpse of a familiar or exotic landscape from 35,000 feet up. I’m pretty sure I’ve always been that way, even as a kid, when on family trips, I stared out of the plane window for hours.

Even on trips across the ocean, the ever-changing patterns of sunlight reflecting on the sea and shifting cloud bands hypnotizes me. And if I’m flying over territory that I’ve explored on the ground, so much the better. It’s always fun to spot a familiar landmark from a new perspective.

So on a recent flight from the Bay Area back to Denver, it was a gift to fly over Mono Lake, where I spent some formative years learning about western water issues and environmental advocacy from the incredible grassroots Mono Lake Committee. Later in the flight, the widespread landscape alteration from oil and gas drilling in the intermountain West became apparent, along with slices of untouched Utah wilderness and national park lands.

In this series, the stark light of mid-day and the muted colors of winter paint a subdued picture of the interior West, especially through the filters of my iPhone app. All these images were shot with an iPhone 4S.

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Approaching SFO from the south, the intricate drainage patterns of San Francisco Bay gleam in the late afternoon sun.

Basin and Range, Nevada.

Flying over the Basin and Range province in Nevada always evokes John McPhee and some of my earliest lessons about the topography and geology of the West.

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Desert badlands.

Plateau and canyon country.

Plateau and canyon country.

The Green River, cutting through the Colorado Plateau in the vicinity of Desolation Canyon.

Riverscape.

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.

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Wild West!

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