Thursday, January 17, 2019

Alcoves Galore!

al·cove  noun 
A recess in the wall of a room or garden. An arched opening.
synonyns:  recess, niche, nook, opening, bay, hollow, cavity

I seemed to have stumbled upon the land of alcoves. Or perhaps "shallow caves" would be a better description? I seem to recall reading somewhere that alcoves are formed at ground level. When the very occasional rain water in the desert puddles up against a rock, and especially when the rain water is acidic, it begins to erode away certain areas of the rock. As this occurs over and over again, ta-da, you have an alcove! Remember, we're talking geologic time here.

Here's a typical alcove. They can be small, large, shallow or deep. All are interesting, and you never know what you might find inside. Nearly all have critter poop... mice, pack-rat, coyote, and a surprising number have bighorn sheep. Surprising because I don't know of a water source or spring anywhere in the area.

The opening to the above alcove must have been at ground level many years ago. Over geologic time, the sand and soil around the alcove slowly eroded away, leaving this alcove about 8' above ground level. Check back in 10,000 or 20,000 years, and it will likely be higher in elevation! According to this theory, alcoves high up in the rocks would be the oldest, while ground level alcoves would be relatively young.

Not quite an arch. More of a wave-shaped boulder. As we were checking out rock formations, three military helicopters flew in low overhead. This is Cousin Scott taking a picture of one. Quite a surprise, especially in this part of the desert, where you hear nothing but nature and rarely see another human footprint!

A couple more alcoves, one deep and one shallow. They are just a little above ground level, so easy access, and they are larger than they look.

View from inside looking out. Hi Scott!

Seems like alcoves often cluster together. A number of small alcoves here, with Cousin Scott for size reference.

The way these rocks erode can be pretty bizarre. Does anyone else see a scull?

Quack quack!

I can't tell you how many of these alcoves I've crawled inside to take pics, but it's a lot! I like the way the rock creates a natural picture frame.

One of my favorite alcoves discovered on this particular hike. It actually qualifies as a shallow cave because it's fairly deep. It has a squarish opening with a large slab of stone hanging down. It even had rough stone steps leading up to it!

Cousin Scott provides a nice reference for the size of the opening!

The view in. It continued beyond the large rock, but I didn't venture in that far!

The view out. A beautiful shelter, and quite spacious!


As you view the surrounding boulders and hills, you may notice many alcoves. It makes it difficult to follow a planned hike, because I am constantly veering off-course to go check out another alcove. But, hey, that's half the fun!

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Trashy Shots

Did you know it's not just high temps, low rainfall and low humidity that make a desert? It's also high winds. Deserts get more than their fair share of wind. High winds literally scour the soil surface, and there isn't much vegetation to hold things in place. It blows away all the small particles of dirt, leaving behind... you guessed it... sand and rock. The wind can also cause other issues, like blowing trash all over the place.

In the first photo (taken on a very windy day near Desert Hot Springs) plastic trash has nearly completely covered a creosote bush. The white plastic was flapping in the wind and was a very weird sight (and sound). I couldn't resist stopping the car to take a couple pics. And who in the heck would want to move that fence??

It's common to see trash caught up in cactus spines and it's difficult if not downright impossible to remove. Plastic will probably remain on that creosote bush until the plastic decomposes, which could be a very long time. I'm glad they've outlawed single use trash bags in California. It's a step in the right direction. I'm sad that people aren't more careful about their trash and aren't better stewards of their environment. I've recently learned Joshua Tree National Park may be closed to visitors because of the federal government shutdown, and because a few knuckleheads have trashed the area during the last couple weeks when the Park has been unsupervised. Such a shame for people who have come long distances to visit one of our great National Parks, only to find it closed.

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Fake Sky

We just walked in the door from a "mini-vacation" with our granddaughter. Can you guess where we were? At one location, the sky was beautiful (but fake).

You could ride motor scooters (also fake, but a great photo op!).

There was plenty of high-end shopping (look, but don't touch!).

Lilly standing inside an Abbey Road phone booth.

We could lounge around in bed if we were feeling lazy.

We got to visit with lions (both real and fake).

Lilly could watch a volcano erupt every night right outside her window!

And all too soon, it was time to leave. At least, too soon for Lilly. Grandma & Grandpa were exhausted and ready to go home 😉

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Mixed Up Sky

During our last desert visit a couple weekends ago, my granddaughter was looking out the window at the morning sky and said "Look, Grandpa, a mixed-up sky!" I thought that was a great description.
The sky colors were great, and the contrails were crisscrossing all over the sky, which is why my granddaughter thought things looked so mixed up. This photo doesn't really do it justice because it was taken with a telephoto lens and is just a little section of the sky. Does anyone else see tic-tac-toe lines?

OK, your move!! This shot was taken just a few minutes after the first one, focusing on a different piece of the sky with my telephoto lens. I often wonder if the jets flying around (especially the military jets from the nearby Marine base) do this on purpose!

The above photos were looking NE. Lets walk over to the other side of the house and see what the sky looks like to the west.
Taken just a few minutes later than the first two photos, this is a very different-looking sky, and beautiful in it's own right. The pink clouds and purple tinged mountains were striking, and the dusting of snow added to the beauty.

Wishing everyone peace and happiness as we rapidly approach 2019, 
and a Happy New Year!!

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