Monday, March 27, 2017

Unknown Pictograph and Habitation Site - Joshua Tree National Park

This post is not about one of the "secret rock art sites" in Joshua Tree N.P. It's about a virtually unknown rock art site in Joshua Tree N.P. I have to give credit to someone for telling me about this place. Please see his info, at the end of this post.

In case somebody reading this wants to find it, be advised that the landscape photos in this post are not anywhere near the site. I'd like to keep this place as obscure and pristine as it is now.

This photo was taken along one of the well know trails in JT. It is not related to these pictographs 

 Neither is this one

Nor this one

Ditto here

After a long hike, and a lot of climbing in, around, and over boulders, we arrived.  My eyes lit up when I saw two milling slicks hidden in a spot that would be very hard to find. If you don't already know, a "slick," is also known as a "metate," or "grinding surface." Together, they are used to grind acorns, nuts, grains, plants, etc.

The rock has two well used surfaces on it. You see one of them just to the left of middle. As smooth as a baby's behind (as my granny always used to say), That stone wasn't sitting on the slick when I got there. I found it sitting on the ground just a foot or so away.  That rock is called a "Mano" or "hand"(para aquellos de ustedes que no hablan espanol). 😉 The presence of the mano at this site is a really big deal.

Unfortunately, it is broken. I started looking around for the other half. I don't know if this it, but it might be. It is either half of this one, or half of another, Because both were very smooth. I wasn't about to start digging around to find out. I didn't leave them on the rock, and I also didn't put them exactly where I found them. I'd hate for them to be taken by the next person who sees them. I hid them!

 Very close by was this rock shelter. 

Always happy to see the faint remains of pictographs. Note the lines in the upper left corner. I don't think I've seen any violet or purple pictographs in this area (that I can remember anyway).

 A little processing of the photo with DStretch reveals the pictographs

 You can see the grid like symbol much better in this one

 Another little hint of red in this photo

 Even after processing the photo, this still isn't very clear. 

 Another symbol (in the center)

 Look what else showed up!

The sunburst is very cool in it's own right, but look in the middle of it. Another sunburst!   I have never seen that before. The center usually is empty, or solid, or has a "dot" in the middle.
Without the help of my friend Robert, I probably would have never found, or even known about this place. Robert is a professional photographer and has also published several books about rock climbing. You can see his photography here, or here. You can see and/or purchase his books at Amazon.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Twin Tanks - Post #1 Joshua Tree National Park

A "tank" is a natural depression in the ground that collects water. Local Indians took advantage of these tanks, and many times, established seasonal villages or camp sites near them. 

After the land was stolen from the Indians, ranchers and miners decided that these tanks would hold more water if they enlarged them. To do this, they added concrete and/or stone dams to them. These two tanks fall into both categories. There are many more natural and enlarged tanks throughout the park. As you can imagine, the ancient history that took place around natural tanks, is much older, and in the eyes of some us, much more interesting. I'll show you what I mean in a minute. 

Technically, Twin Tanks is not a secret. The words "Twin Tanks" appear on the park map, has a shared parking area (fairly well hidden), and even a tiny road sign (that you will likely miss). 

I won't bore you with basic info on how to get to the tanks, because it is readily available elsewhere. In a nutshell, you want to get from where you park your car to the western (slightly southwestern) base of the hill with the large white quartz rocks on top. 

 This hill

You don't have to climb the hill to get to the tanks. I hiked in from a different direction, and had to climb part of it, to get around it anyway. Plus, I wanted to take some photos from up there. That is the only reason I went up all the way.

 Well that climb wasn't too bad!

Actually, it was really steep! DO NOT try this at home kids. If you came to see the tanks, you should do just that, and don't bother with this hill.

 Close up

A view of tank #1 from on top (I'm not showing you tank #2)

 From ground level

The tank itself doesn't interest me all that much. What does interest me is in the middle of the photo. 

Cupules! Lots of cupules! In case you don't remember, cupules are generally considered to be the oldest form of petroglyphs. One other note of interest: See that little metal bracket at the bottom left of the photo? That was one of several brackets that supported a wooden "deck." I'm not sure exactly what it was used for, but the first couple of times I saw this tank (as a young lad) there was still part of the "deck" in place.

Lots of "back in the day" ingenuity went into this structure.


Unless you are a very competent hiker, and have good survival skills, I'd advise you not to seek out these tanks via any route other than the one you'll find on the internet. This place is a warren of washes and small canyons, many of which terminate in a dead end. What I'm saying, is that it is very easy to get lost and/or injured in this area. For most people, getting lost in the desert or wilderness, is a very bad thing. Sometimes, it is a fatal mistake. This is made all the worse, by the absence of cell phone signals here.  Yes, I did hike in from a different direction, but I'm very familiar with the area. If you do go, stick to the route suggested, and get out of there after you see the tanks. Umkay?


Monday, March 6, 2017

Day Trip to Santa Catalina Island

It's true! We really don't spend all of our time in the desert. These photos were taken on a fairly recent day trip to Santa Catalina Island. You may not have heard of the Island, but you've probably heard the song (if your as old as I am anyway). Just like the song says; it's 26 miles across the sea.

 Our ride from Newport Beach to the island

 The boat is a high speed catamaran, so the 26 mile trip is pretty quick.

Newport Harbor

 A fellow passenger, lost in his thoughts. My favorite photo of the day

 A little car ferry between Newport and Balboa Island

Newport Harbor ghetto. You can probably pick up one of these houses for about $5,000,000.00. The larger ones go for two or three times that much. 

 Dolphins everywhere! It was a gray and gloomy day, and the light sucked for photos!

 This is the town of Avalon. The one and only town on the Island. It has a nice harbor. The residents don't have cars.

The Wrigley mansion (yes, as in Wrigley Chewing Gum). In addition to a chewing gum dynasty, the Wrigley family also owned the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs used to come to the island for spring training.

Yeah, I know this photo is all askew, but it seems to be the only one I took that gives you a good view of all the different sized boats/ships that anchor in the harbor. No marina here.

 "The Casino" I'm not sure if it was ever actually a casino, but it has been used for a ton of other things.

 You can see the Wrigley mansion almost at the top of the hill (on the left)

 Check out the condos on the side of that cliff. Not for me!

Many years ago, I learned to scuba dive in the little cove beneath the condos. 

Just because I loved her face. About two seconds after the photo was taken, she gave me the stink eye. 

 They call it a submarine, but I'm not sure if it actually goes under water.

Lost and found 

 Time to go back to the mainland

 If you ever find yourself in coastal southern California, this place is a must see.  
There are several really nice boutique hotels in Avalon. There are also miles of hiking trails and beautiful primitive areas.