Monday, April 25, 2016

Space Man Petroglyph - Joshua Tree National Park

I spent a lot of time in Joshua Tree last week, trying to tie up some loose ends. Also, looking for rock art that I either haven't seen for a long time, or that was almost invisible last time I saw it.

The single little petroglyph in this post falls into the first category, and is one of my all time favorites. To me, it looks like a spaceman.

These first three photos are only here because I like them. They may, or may not be anywhere near this petroglyph site.

I've searched for this little site twice, and came away empty handed both times. This time, my wife walked right up and said, "what's that?" See the little depression just to the right and near the top of the the yellow flowers?

 A closer look at the depression. Do you see the little white figure on the right side? It's about 10 inches high.

 Here is a close up of it. This photo isn't mine and is about 45 years old.

I took this photo about a week ago. As you can see, the granite is decomposing and taking the petroglyph with it.

DStretch isn't really meant to enhance petroglyphs, but it does allow us to see this one better because of the contrast.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Not Hidden or Fantastic, but Rarely Seen Rock Art - Joshua Tree National Park

These petroglyphs and pictographs are very close to what may be the busiest part of Joshua Tree National Park. They aren't hidden at all, but people just don't see them. I've been to the park more times than I can remember and I've never heard of them being vandalized.

At the rate these rocks are naturally disintegrating, I don't think these petroglyphs will last more than a few more decades.  The pictographs are already pretty much invisible to the naked eye. I don't understand why spots like these need to be kept secret. Pretty soon, nobody will EVER be able to seem them again. Just who are they saving them for? That question is usually answered with "our grandchildren" or "future generations." Well, I'm here to tell you, that those answers are nonsense. Without DStretch, these pictographs are already gone...

Almost invisible

Even after being enhanced with DStretch, there isn't much left

Not much left

Not much left to enhance either

Not much left of the petroglyphs either

This pictograph isn't visible at all

I don't know what it is, but I'm glad it is visible via DStretch. I recently read something about these brain like looking symbols, but I don't recall what it was.

I'll be sharing several more of these sites...

Sorry it took me so long to get a post out (if anybody cares). Much to post, but not much time to do so right now.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Part #2 - Every Long Hike Should Pay Off Like This One Did

In my last post, I only showed you the stars of the show at this site. This post includes the rest of what we saw. When you put it all together, it is very clear that area was used for habitation.

This two inch granite point (arrowhead) was sitting on the ground. I placed it on a pottery sherd/shard to get some contrast. You can clearly see marks on it, that were left when it was transformed from a rock, into an arrowhead. I put the pottery shard back on the ground where I got it, but the arrowhead was put where somebody just hiking by couldn't see it. Then, I kicked some dirt over it. Like I've said many times before, out here it's an awesome bit of history, but taken out of that location, it's nothing but an interesting rock in your sock drawer. Maybe even worse, it could become one of a thousand other arrowheads in a bag or box, locked in the back room of some NPS, NFS, or BLM office.

Another rock shelter and another spirit stick

I can't tell you the exact purpose of this, but it was clearly arranged by somebody a long time ago.

Another man-made rock arrangement. If the bush wasn't there, you could more easily see that it is, or was a circle.

The Ocotillo were very green and healthy looking

A shard that was once part of the lip, on of a piece of pottery

Shards were all over the place. 

This large boulder had a couple of spots that have been worn smooth by grinding seeds, or other food items with a handheld rock (Mano). These spots are usually called slicks, metates, or a milling stations. 

A little later we saw another one, that still had a Mano sitting on it.

Both the bottom of the Mano and the little concave portion of the large rock were worn smooth. I'm not saying that this Mano has been sitting there for hundreds of years, but maybe it was! To see the smooth spots on the large rocks is fairly common, to find the Mano, even just in the area, is very rare.

Just because I liked it

The obligatory black and white. This was a large desert tortoise.  

A couple of what I believe are called scutes. They cover the tortoise shell.

If you stood on a higher level, you could more easily see that this arrangement of rocks is in the shape of an arrow. It looks to be a little messed with, but it is clearly an arrow pointing through the notch in between those large rocks. I wonder what it is pointing at. Next trip...

Maybe some of you remember that a Yoni, is a female hoo-hoo, fashioned out of a natural crack in a rock. If you look at the bottom of it, you can see the tool marks. The tools were made of harder stone. These are fairly common in the southwest.

I think this large boulder looks like a Desert Big Horn Sheep head (sort of).

I don't remember what it's name is, but it sure if pretty (update: thanks to mrsvle, I now know that this is a Desert Bluebell).

Always nice to see the moon in the middle of the day. I think it completed the photo.

And of course, there was also some petroglyphs nearby.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Part #1 - Every Long Hike Should Pay Off Like This One Did

Just like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a recent long hike ended with an amazing reward. 

Several days ago, a friend invited me to hike with him to a place he had just found in the desert. Ignoring my doctor's advice (to do nothing strenuous for six months), I of course accepted. He told that he was speechless when he first saw the site. If HE was speechless, I figured it might make me faint.

What he took me to see was so amazing, and so pristine, that I will not be uttering either a name, or location relating to it. After several miles (uphill, I might add), he led me to some large formations that were not visible during the entire hike.

We climbed one of the rock piles and then he dropped down into a hole. I did the same. What I saw not only rendered me speechless, it also took my breath away. 

 The thing that blew my mind is the circle of rocks, that is just right of center, at the bottom.

At first sight most people would think that it's a fire ring. They wouldn't notice that many of the stones were placed in a vertical fashion, rather than just being stacked. They also wouldn't think much of the grassy dried vegetation at the bottom, or the branch leaning against the inside of it.

This isn't a fire ring at all. It is called an "Olla Nest." The branch (what is left of it) is a "Spirit Stick" and the grass is there to make sure the "Olla" sits on something soft. So what is an Olla?

The large piece of pottery standing next to this lady (her name is Rose), is an Olla.
CREDIT: San Diego History Center

An olla is a large piece of pottery used to store water or food. Because it was high up in the rocks, I'm thinking it was probably used to store food, rather that water. Just a thought. The olla was gone, but that didn't matter. It was awesome just to see the nest.

But wait! My friend Jim wasn't done yet. He had another surprise for me.

We went up another pile of rocks and once again, had to drop down into an opening.

I apologize about this terribly blurry photo All I can see after dropping into the hole, is another Spirit Stick, leaning up against the rocks. When I got closer I saw...

...that the Spirit Stick was standing right next to a whole Olla. At least it was a whole Olla when it was left there.  Unfortunately, either a rock fell on it, or it just fell apart on its own. Maybe if it had been in a nest! You can't really tell from this photo, but those shards are as large as my hand with spread fingers. Some of them are buried and/or partially buried.  There were also two more Spirit Sticks in there, but somehow I didn't get a photo of them. I don't know exactly how old these two sites are, but they are very old...

My friend Jim knew how much I would love seeing these sites. He was right and I really appreciated it. There aren't very many people who like this stuff as much as we do. There are some of course, but it's a small group.

Part #2 will be posted soon. So much more to see...


Monday, February 22, 2016

The Official Center of the World - Desert Oddity

There is no shortage of odd things in the desert and I've shown you many over the years. This desert oddity involves an entire "town" and a whole lot of money. Well, sort of a town anyway. I'll explain as we go.

You are probably wondering what I'm standing on. Or maybe you are really wondering why I have so much scar tissue on my legs.  

 If you were part of the first group, I'm standing on the "Official Center of the World."

The legal and "Official Center of the World" is in the town of Felicity, California. Downtown Felicity is the only part of Felicity there is. The population is exactly two. There is room for more though. Felicity has seven apartments, five of which are vacant (just in case you are interested). As you can see, Felicity (like most things I show you), is in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere in this case, is Imperial County, California,

That is a very nice lawn and tree for being in the middle of the desert. Hey,what the heck is that in lower left hand corner?

What the heck is this doing here? Didn't I do a post titled "Spiral Staircase to Nowhere" about this same thing in Pismo Beach? Actually, it isn't, because this one was once part of the original staircase in the Eiffel Tower. Still though, if you haven't seen it already, you will probably enjoy the other post. 

Have you asked yourself yet, "how in the heck did this thing get from Paris, France, to middle of nowhere desert California?"  If you want actual relevant information about this place, you will have to follow this link.

This is kind of a "you are here" diagram of Felicity. Where we are is just about exactly under the capital "G" in the word granite. 

If you've ever been to the Sistine Chapel, you've probably seen this painted on the ceiling. It is the "Arm of God." When I first saw it, I wasn't sure if it was intended to show us the "way," or direct us to the gift shop to pay our five dollar entrance fee. 

It was pointing to both of those things and more. The gift shop is on the left, "the way" is in the middle, and to the right is where we watched the obligatory five minute video.  

The pyramid contains the "Official Center of the World." As you can imagine, something that important must remain locked up at all times. It will even remain locked up while you are there. However, if you want to cough up a measly five dollar donation, the keeper of the keys will open the door, Then he will let you stand on the exact "Official Center of the World" and even snap a few photos. He will then tell you that there will be an official document waiting for you at the cash register on your way out. The certificate celebrates and documents, the brief moment when you stood on the "Official Center of the World."

Have I said the "Official Center of the World" enough yet?

I made the mistake of calling the "church" on the hill, a chapel. I was told that it is an actual church that holds no services, because nobody shows up. After standing on the "Official Center of the World," we are on our way to the "church." I'll explain all those triangular shaped things in a bit.

 This and the next few photos are just here because I liked them.

Okay, this is the coolest only cool thing about this place. These large triangular shaped things are covered with solid granite. As this end-piece says, the information etched onto these huge granite panels includes the entire History of Humanity.

 Here are a couple of examples. I wonder where the panel is that relates to trains?

I guess a person could read every panel, but it would take at least a couple of days to do so. I wonder if they'd charge you another five dollars to come back the next day?

I appreciate the dedication that it took to build this place. However, I mostly think it's just one man's extremely obsessive vision. It reminds me of Salvation Mountain and Burro Schmidt's Tunnel. You can follow these links if you so choose.

It just hit me, Where in the heck is my certificate for standing on the "OFFICIAL CENTER OF THE WORLD?"