Last February I passed through Joshua Tree NP (couldn’t stop because the campgrounds were full) and decided I’d have to visit it again. Last month I was able to do that and really enjoyed it. I found a great site with a huge rock on the back side of it in the small Belle campground.Turned out that rock is popular with climbers so I got to watch a few folks scaling it.
Though the days were cloudless there was enough of a breeze so it was never uncomfortably hot. The town of 29 Palms (with some shopping) and the visitor center were not too far away. Late in the day I went out and got a few images then I went out at night and got more.
The moon was waxing so between that and the ambient light from large cities west of the park the Milky Way wasn’t very visible but I made do. The moonlight on some of the rocks with the north end of the Milky Way made for some interesting images.
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Never expected to still be camping in CA but here I am. When I left Death Valley I was hoping to get into Joshua Tree NP for a few days. Hah! I didn’t have reservations and the holiday weekend brought out hoards of people. No site for me. Since the weather prediction for the weekend was strong winds and heavy rain I decided to head to the Salton Sea SRA where I was due to meet friends on Sunday. Full hookups, a real splurge for me and good friends to share the time with. The Salton Sea is the largest inland body of water in CA and has a higher salt content than the Pacific. Several kinds of shore birds, along with both brown and white pelicans are here. Not a lot different than at home in FL, really. I did find some Burrowing Owls though and it was fun to watch them for a while, but there wasn’t a lot of action. It was them watching me watch them, really.
I’ve heard about the amazing metal sculptures in the desert around Borrego Springs from a few Casita friends and thought it would be fun to see them, but also thought the chances of me being in the area were nil. Not so! Turns out Borrego Springs is about 90 minutes from here so my dear friend (and former Casita owner) Cindi and I headed over there today. What fun we had locating the sculptures.
From the Chamber of Commerce booklet ” The gifts of visionary town benefactor Dennis Avery and the craft of sculptor Ricardo Breceda, the sculptures began arriving in April 2008, taking up residence on Avery’s private parcel of land known as Galleta Meadows Estate and easily visible from Borrego Springs Road, north and south.” There are well worn dirt roads weaving to and around the sculptures on the various parcels of land. Some of the critters are prehistoric, some more recognizable, some straight out of fantasy. The “Serpent” has 3 sections on one side of the road and the tail sections are on the other. It reminds me of ancient maps that depicted the earth as flat and the unknown was described as “There be dragons” with a drawing much like the serpent.
The sculptures in some cases are larger than life (scorpion and grasshopper for example) and in others I suspect very close to life size. The action captured by the sculptor is amazing. We found ourselves with more questions than answers on the way home. In some cases I guess he could base the piece on life experience or a photo (like the mare with foal) in others it looks like he must have done some research (saber tooth tiger) and in others it seems like his imagination took over. Each piece is a fine piece of art and shows marvelous skill. The number of pieces was surprising. For example there wasn’t just one prehistoric critter, or one example of a specific species. In some cases there was an adult and smaller ones.
We explored the parcels on the south side of town, had a fantastic lunch then went to the northern parcels to view the rest of the sculptures. I haven’t shown all of them here. It was a great day and a fine finish to a relaxing weekend with friends.
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View of Death Vally floor from along Badwater Drive
At Quartzite some friends mentioned they were headed to Death Valley next…..hmmm, never been there so I decided to go, too. I got a site at a rather barren campground, really a gravel lot with space numbers, but the cost is low. There is a decent breeze that makes up for the lack of shade, too. The valley floor is close to 200′ below seal level. I can’t imagine the hard life the miners and others had here when they came.
I had no idea what to expect and it has been interesting exploring a bit. It is surrounded by mountains, with a long drive slowly descending to the valley floor. So far I haven’t seen much if any cactus of any sort. The hills are different from most I’ve see out west because they seem softer or more crumbly, affected more easily by any rains or winds that come. The colors range from yellow and gold to dark brown with a tint of green in a few places.
I’ve gotten out a couple of nights and took advantage of the interesting
Moonlight and stars at Zabriskie Point
foregrounds and moonlight, Very different from what I’ve seen before.
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