Saturday, March 26, 2011

Geology & Cultural History of Cottonwood Spring

My sister, brother-in-law and I signed up for this class offered by the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park.  It was taught by D. D. Trent, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus in geology.  Here's the course description:
"Stretch you legs and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Cottonwood Mountains with D.D. Trent in this all-day field class.  Trent will discuss the rocks and minerals of Cottonwood Mountains and tell stories of the people who eked out a living in the area during the late 1800s.  Along the trail, Trent will share the history of the cowboys, miners, and teamsters who depended on Cottonwood Spring for their livelihood."
It was a great class, very interesting and informative.  I would definitely recommend it, especially if you are interested in the geology of the area.  Dr. Trent took us to mines and other interesting areas that we would never have found on our own!

The weather was cold this weekend, so you can see everyone was bundled up.  There was extensive cloud cover with no shadows, so the light was "flat" for photography, but that didn't stop us from taking a ton of pictures! 
Starting our day -ore crushing site at Cottonwood Spring

Morton mill site with cyanide vats in foreground.

Hard to believe horse-drawn carts were pulled up and down this old mining road!

Mastodon Mine

My sister in the "rock gardens"!

Cottonwood Spring wash... & wide, open spaces!
Chocolate Chip Cookie rock!!
Window Rock
The Mastodon peak loop train and mine area are really interesting, and a great hike.  I really enjoyed hiking around and exploring this area.  If you get a chance, really worth checking out.

Out for a drive in Cottonwood Spring wash!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cactus - Dig Your Own!

As you drive east on Highway 62 through the town of Morongo Valley, be sure to stop at the Cactus Mart. If the “Dig Your Own Cactus 59 ¢” sign doesn’t catch your fancy, or the giant lizard on the roof of the gift shop doesn’t catch your eye, or if you don’t want to get out just to see the myriad cacti displays both in the ground and for sale in pots, or the flocks of colorful birds jostling at the feeders out back near the Koi pond, or if you aren’t interested in purchasing cactus candy or pomegranate jelly, OR even if you don’t need to use their the bathroom, then get out of your car JUST to see Butch and Sundance, the resident cashier counter cats! These beguiling critters could care less that human hubbub and high commerce is being carried out all around them; that human eyes are taking in their lovely mutual catnaps, taking pictures, blowing in their ears, petting them, calling their spouses to say “Honey, come in to look at these darling cats!” while souvenirs, cacti, postcards, objects de art, money, and credit cards exchange human hands above their innocent heads, while they continue to snooze.  An itch behind the ears or a stroke of soft fur will produce a stretchy leg, a cat smile, and then, an even closer snuggle.  How long do cats sleep, anyway?  Every time we stop, those two have themselves cuddled into this wooden box, on the cashier counter.  A must-see in Morongo! 

The other sign that's hard to miss is the "Cactus Mart" sign.

Oh, and remember to grab your camera before you head in!

Two cats in a box!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fun with Photos - Learning How to Get Creative!

As I continue my quest to learn the world of digital photography, I took a baby step this weekend.  There's a program called "Photo Shop Elements 8" on our old downstairs computer.  It barely chugs along on this old computer... probably very memory intensive, but at least it works.   I've been playing around with it off and on for a couple weeks and finally figured out how to get creative this weekend.  It was like a light bulb going off!  There are all kinds of filters and special effects you can apply, so wanted to share a couple on my blog.  Enjoy!

My sister and cousin-in-law out in Wonder Valley - this effect is called "Cut Out"

This effect is called "Smudge Stick" - subtle but interesting.

Pretty sunrise looking out our backyard in 29 Palms...

Same picture as above with "Colored Pencil" effect added!

Looking down our driveway to the NW

Same photo as above with "Glowing Edges" applied.  Yikes!

Kitchen windowbox with wife's collection of African Violets

"Colored Pencil" effect... very cool!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Too Many Guitars??!

I was talking with my cousin over at about guitars.  We both like to play, and I was telling him you really need multiple guitars... they all have their own personalities, and excel in certain situations.  He said he has the same problem with cameras (he's a semi-professional, and has a hard time not accumulating them).  I guess it's a similar dilemma... can you ever really have too many guitars? (or camers??).

The Electric Set
From L to R:  Hamer Newport, Fender Strat, Fender '51, Fender Tele, and Tele "parts" guitar

 The Acoustic Set
From L to R:  Ovation Legend 1995, Gibson B-25, Guild F-50 Jumbo, and Epiphone beater
Heavenly Combination

I don't think you can beat the combination of a Fender Telecaster + Fender Princeton Reverb amp... here's my personal favorite combination:  My '76 Princeton with my "parts" tele... pure and simple, it sounds great!  If I had to get by with only one amp and one guitar, this would be it!
Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lizard in the Sink!

While out exploring in Wonder Valley last Saturday, we came across an old homestead cabin (long since abandoned).  The roof was caved in, and a strong wind could have brought the whole place down! Here's the view from outside the kitchen window looking in:

From inside the cabin, looking out (actually, not too smart of me to go in this place!).  Note the lizard in the sink!

 This was the only other intact window in the cabin.  I switched my camera setting to monochrome to add to the antiquated feeling.

Old single bed springs outside the cabin.

I rescued this guy out of the sink.  He was very sluggish, and I'm guessing, nearly starved.  Based on a quick Google search, I'm guessing he is a Common Side Blotched lizard, which is probably the most commonly seen lizard in the CA deserts.  Hope he was able to survive!!