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.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Coyote Hole Rock Art #1 - The GOOD - Joshua Tree

The Coyote Hole rock art site is on the edge of the town of Joshua Tree (in Quail Springs Wash) and just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. The area was also used for habitation by the Serrano and/or Cahuilla Indians and is several thousand years old. At one time, it was considered one of the most important rock art sites in this part of the country.

Here is some of the good stuff...

Somebody had to do some climbing to create the petroglyphs on the top right, of the tallest rock. It is about 40 feet off the ground.

A closer look at the symbols. As you can see, much of the surface of this large boulder has eroded off as the centuries have passed.

Another tall stack of rocks containing petroglyphs.

It looks like there are a couple of layers of symbols in this panel. Some of them have almost been reclaimed by "desert varnish." Re-varnishing is one of the methods archaeologists use to date petroglyphs. The style of the petroglyphs can also indicate a time frame.

The image just to the right of center is called a dumbbell (as in a dumb-bell used for weight lifting). Of course a dumbbell is usually a straight line (or bar) connecting to round shapes. Of course, there were no "dumbbells" back then, and the jury is still out as to what this particular type of design represented. HOWEVER, when I was a youngster my granny told me that the traditional "dumbbell" image represented a conversation, negotiation, or communication, between two people. THIS image represented the same thing, but with another person "in the middle" acting as an intermediate, who passed the words of one person to another. It may have been needed because the two people needed someone to mediate what they were talking about, or because there was too much distance for the two to communicate directly. Maybe I'll gather up various types of "dumbbells" together that represent several types of communication.

My granddaughter Tay still loves this stuff. Note the graffiti on the large rock to her right and left.

Various designs. The one in the middle looks to be anthropomorphic (giving human like characteristics to something that is not human).

This panel contains six different images of atlatls. The atlatl is a device used to throw a spear, or arrow like shaft, before the advent of the "bow and arrow." This also aids archaeologists in dating petroglyphs.

This is the panel containing the images in the previous two photos.

A large mumber of images in this area.

Many images, some of which were apparently made by different tribes, in a different style, over a very long time period. Some are of the Great Basin Abstract (Curvilinear) style, and others are Rectilinear. There are a couple more Anthropomorphic images here also.

Rough country...

Although the large mortar in the middle has been there for a very long time, the rocks appear to be a fairly recent addition. I (and others) think that it is supposed to look like a fire ring. However, something just now struck me. Why would somebody go to all the trouble to arrange these heavy rocks in a circle? There isn't any visible evidence of fires in, or near the mortar.  In the next photo you can see a large rock (bottom right) that clearly has been "worked" and probably used as a grinding surface. Just a thought, but we will never know...

Coming next...

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

Monday, May 2, 2016

Fire Sticks Versus My Eye Balls

I'm sure most people already know about the lengthy drought we are having out here on the west coast. As a result, many people have replaced their landscaping with native drought tolerant plants. Many of those plants are succulents and various types of cactus.

One of the plants you often see around here is Euphorbia Tirucalli. Also known as fire sticks, sticks of fire, milk plant, pencil tree, etc. These three are in front of our house.

After a recent windstorm, the one in the middle was badly leaning. I straightened it up and staked it in place. I broke a few of the pencil sized branches and they oozed white sap (that I apparently got on me, and somehow into my eyes).  When I was done, I washed my hands and went about my business. That only lasted about five minutes. That is when my eyes started severely burning and hurting. I Googled the plant and it said that if you get the sap in your eyes, try to rinse them out. However, if you are allergic, or they don't stop hurting, go immediately to the emergency room at your local hospital. I wasn't sure if I was allergic or not, but within a few more minutes, I was pretty sure that I was.

I'm sure you already figured that out after looking at this photo. My face and head were puffy, beet red and covered with hives, welts, and splotches, and my eyes were on FIRE! The waiting room was full and I seriously thought I might have to tear my own eyes out. It killed me when they were open, and it was worse when they were closed. Even worse than that though, was when I blinked. That was torture. I guess they didn't like what was happening to me, and took me right in.

The ER doctor said they only see this about once a year. The sap was apparently very toxic to me and it was possible to become temporarily blind (or worse).  He then said they needed to rinse my eye sockets out and it would be very painful. I said it couldn't hurt worse than what I was already feeling. He said "not only can it, but it will, and we can't give you any painkillers until it is done."
In this photo, they are putting rubbery round things OVER my eyeballs. They went UNDER my eye lids (top and bottom).

The things are on my eyes and what you can't see from this angle is the round port that now sticks out of each eye. Those things didn't let me blink and also allows them to...

 ...attach freaking TUBES to my eyes! Each eye was hooked up to a liter of saline. They said our goal was to flush each eye with at least half a liter. The more the better. Apparently, most people either insist that they take those things out of their eyes, or rip them out themselves almost immediately.

I guess this was why I got nothing for pain yet. I had to sit up and let the fluid drain out of my eyes and into that pink tub. I think most of it went down my shirt.

When they opened up the valves to start the torture, I couldn't believe how GOOD it felt. My eyes were still killing me, but at least the fluid had a cooling effect. By the time this photo was taken, I think I had totally disassociated from the entire ordeal and the bags were almost empty.

When they took the things off my eyes, the pain returned in all it's soul cleansing glory. The doctor said it usually lasts for a couple of days. He then asked me the standard, "on a scale of one to ten, ten being highest, how much pain are you in?" I told him that I have a really high tolerance for pain, and it was more than 10. The nurse walked back into the room with a syringe. The doctor said it was dilaudid should help with the pain, and maybe even put me to sleep. I laid back on the bed and waited, but it did nothing. After a short while, I got another one, and then another. Still nothing!

He said I had reached the legal limit of what he could administer to me. That sucked. I think I had 6 milligrams in me and nothing had changed. He gave us a prescription for oxycodone or hydrocodone and a few to "tide me over" until we could get the prescription filled. Despite all the dilaudid in me, I got out of bed and walked out of there like I hadn't had any. We went home, I took one of the pills and washed it down with a full glass of wine. After all, the bottle said "Warning: Alcohol may intensify the effect." I know that was dangerous, but I seriously didn't care at that point. After about 15 minutes, I took another pill with more wine. I finally went to sleep and/or passed out. When I woke up several hours later my eyes felt a lot better.

It has now been about 3 weeks and all is good!

Watch out for fire sticks!