Monday, September 12, 2016

Skull Rock - Joshua Tree National Park

Skull Rock is another very popular spot in Joshua Tree National Park. It is located just outside of Jumbo Rocks Campground. If you don't feel like hiking to this spot via the Jumbo Rocks Trail, you can drive to it! It is right alongside the main road through the park. As usual, there are also plenty of other great natural sights in the area.


 That is one large forehead on that skull!

 A small arch very close to the skull.

 A few additional photos from the area.






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Monday, August 22, 2016

Indian Rock Shelter - Joshua Tree National Park

If you are doing a car tour of the park, this would be a good stop.
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This site is just off the parking lot for the trail leading up Ryan Mountain. It is a rock shelter that was used for many centuries by Indians traveling along an ancient trail from the Colorado River towards the coast. The site is signed and less than a hundred yards from where you park, just off the main road.


The shelter is behind the bush near the right side of the photo. 


 The opening is on the left. Love that tree! Nature always finds a way.


Inside the shelter is this rock with a mortero and a few cupules. 


 Also a "slick" or "metate" used for grinding food. You can tell by the very smooth surface that it was used for a very long time.


Tay standing inside the shelter. There are/were pictographs also. Unfortunately, they are hidden, or were destroyed by soot and pitch, from centuries of fires. I couldn't find any trace of them. I'm not giving up yet...


 Here are two photos taken in the mid 1970's (not by me). I don't see any sign of them in either photo. Not even with DStretch.


 Can you see anything?


Tay doing what she does best. 


This photo was taken just outside my jeep, that is parked in the Ryan Mountain parking lot. It is very much worth a visit if you are driving through the park.




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Monday, August 15, 2016

Me and Mean Mr. C

If you don't want to read this, I totally understand...

Last October I posted an article relating to the fact that both my parents died of cancer during the 64th year of their lives. Now that I was in my own 64th year, I was more than a bit concerned. If you didn't see it, and want to see it now, here is a link. 

I scheduled an examination by just about every specialist I could think of. I'm very happy I did that, because I immediately found out I had aggressive prostate cancer, a pre-cancerous polyp in my colon, and ten pre-cancerous spots on my skin. The spots on my skin were frozen off, the polyp was removed, and my prostate was removed. Here is a link (if you haven't already seen it) to the post relating to the prostate procedure.

At this point I'm feeling good! Everything has been taken care of, and I'm out of the woods (relative to my 64th year).  At least that is what I thought at the time.

I recently went to a one year follow-up appointment with my dermatologist. I figured he'd give me a look over and that would be that. Nope! I hit the skin cancer trifecta.
  1. Melanoma
  2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  3. Basal Cell Carcinoma
Melanoma - A mole on my back that had gone from "keeping an eye on it" to a moderately aggressive (as per a biopsy) early stage Melanoma in less than a year. It was dealt with first, because if ignored, it will eventually kill you. The procedure was done under local anesthesia. A pretty good chunk (15 stitches to close the incision) was taken out of my back and sent out for pathology. The results indicated that the margins were clear, and that was that. Two weeks later we dealt with number 2.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma - This was on the right side of my neck (photo below). There was nothing on the surface that would indicate anything. I asked him to look at it because the area got kind of red when I shaved, or scratched there. The biopsy he took, came back positive for cancer. Squamous Cell Cancer is sometimes referred to as "head and neck" cancer. This is the one I was most worried about, because it doesn't have to travel far to get into the neck muscles and/or the lymphatic system.  This surgery was also done under local anesthesia. The procedure is called Mohs Surgery. They take out chunk of tissue around the biopsy spot, and then do "on the spot" pathology by a technician. If the margins come back clear, your done and they close the incision. If it's not clear (meaning that it has spread) they take out more tissue in the direction the cancer cells were headed. The tech then does pathology on the margins of that piece. Once again, if the margins are clear, your done. If not, more tissue has to come out. He had to do it four times before the margins were clear. He called it "chasing the cancer." The REALLY good thing is that it had spread quite a bit, but traveled down my neck, instead of deeper INTO it. It took a bit over 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Lot's of stitches to close it up. Nine days later we dealt with number 3.

Basal Cell Carcinoma - This was on the left side of my neck. The surgery went pretty much the same as with the Squamous Cell cancer surgery. It only took two tries to get it all though. After the margins came back positive from the first try, I asked if he would just go ahead and take out a much bigger chunk out and hope for the best. He agreed, and it came back clean. He closed it up (also with a lot of stitches) and hopefully, I'm done with cancer. 


 Basal Cell before. The red spot is from the biopsy. There was no other indication at all.


 Basal Cell after. 
The stitches come out tomorrow. Geez, when did I become an old man?


Squamous Cell after

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  1. Capillary Thyroid Carcinoma
  2. Prostate Adeno Carcinoma
  3. Basal Cell Carcinoma
  4. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  5. Malignent Melanoma
  6. Pre-Cancerous Polyp in colon
  7. 10 Pre-Cancerous spots on my skin
        All in five years, and four of them in the last 10 months.
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I almost forgot to mention that the first thing I did was get a complete physical exam. Everything came out perfect. Contrary to the fact that I seem to get cancer, I'm really healthy. Vitals and blood test results were all fantastic. 

There is some good news.  I got a bit of a "neck lift" from the two surgeries!




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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Wonderland Ranch House Ruins - Joshua Tree National Park

I apologize for my extended absence. More health issues popped up, that I will explain in my next post. 
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I just realized that although I've been to this spot many times, I've never posted anything about it. The Wonderland Ranch ruins are sometimes referred to as the "Ohlson Ranch." Other than the name, there is very little known about it. It's in a great place and makes me imagine what it would have been like to live there.


Despite the fact that this place is very close to one of the main tourist draws in the park, very few people visit it. 


This ranch house was very isolated "back in the day." The round stone lined pit in the foreground appears to be a water cistern.



My granddaughter Tay (who most of you know by now) standing by the fireplace. Despite being in the desert, it gets VERY cold here. I'm sure people stood right there to keep warm. 


Speaking of cold, that is my bundled up wife, in the lower middle. This photo is from a different visit to the same place. It was about 25 degrees on this day. 





Over the years, visitors have been placing small, found items on this wall.  



Part of a small can dump near the house. There are many more in the area. 


This small stone structure once had what looked like a metal oven, or grill on it. The metal part was on it until several years ago. I looked around for it, but it has vanished. 


At ground level, you can see many Joshua Trees around it.

An old truck near the ranch house. 



Not many exciting things to write about from this spot, but it's still a great part of the local history. More than worth the small effort it takes to get there.


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Monday, June 6, 2016

Black and White - Group 8

If you've been around my blog for anytime at all, you are no doubt familiar with my granddaughter Tay. She's made many appearances here through the years. You usually see her because she loves exploring just like I do. The first two photos in this post were taken several years ago. I posted them on "The World in Black and White," but not here (I think).  If you have the time and/or inclination, please check it out. There are 13 of us who contribute, and I think I'm getting close to 200 posts there. I know a few of you are already familiar with it, and two of you contribute there. 

 Much Younger Tay. One of my favorite photos of her.

We were at her great grandmother's birthday party, and out of the blue Tay is looking like a gypsy while she dances towards our table. Tay is also one of the little photos in my blog header.

Yasiyuki Suzuki RIP. He was my wife's uncle, a friend, and a great guy.
Tokyo, Japan

Emma Pearl
One of our long time pets.






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Monday, May 23, 2016

Coyote Hole Rock Art #2 - The BAD - Joshua Tree

As I said in the last post, this amazing site was all but ruined by decades of neglect and abuse. For many years, it has served as an isolated and well used party site by young people from the area. 

It has also been used as a large graffiti canvas, bonfire area, and trash dump. We can't blame it all on the young though. The next to last time I visited, there was ATV tire tracks all over the wash. I was deeply saddened by what I saw. I gathered up all the trash I could carry and left. What I took, barely made a dent. 

Years ago, many rocks were dynamited and used for road bed fill, by a construction crew. Many of those rocks contained petroglyphs!


I first visited this place about 50 years ago when it was pristine (the petroglyphs anyway). The next few times I saw it over the years, it was also pristine. Somewhere in between then and now, that all changed. It has become nothing short of an eyesore. 


What follows are several examples of what I saw there. As you can see, some graffiti had been removed, only to have more painted on top of it. Also, I used DStretch on some of the photos, so you could see old graffiti. There is some good news these days, I'll tell you about that at the end.








































The Good News:
There is a group of people (most of them local) who have taken it upon themselves to protect and champion Coyote Hole. Feel free to follow this link to visit their FB page. "The Friends of Coyote Hole" spend a lot of time restoring, protecting, and educating folks about how important this great place is. Because of them, most if not all of the graffiti in these photos has been removed. No government agency will claim this place (to the point of protecting it), so these fine folks have gone above and beyond, to do it themselves. 

Now, if you don't mind, a little rant...
If I was the current, or past superintendent, archaeologist, or other official at nearby Joshua Tree National Park. I would be embarrassed to admit that I had sat idly by and done nothing, while this ancient cultural treasure was being trashed. To me, it doesn't matter if it isn't within the NP boundaries. It is darn close! They should have been involved! The same thing applies to the local governments.


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