Thursday, April 22, 2021

WW2 Bombing Range

 One of the things I love about blogging is meeting people out there in the blogosphere with similar interests (fellow desert explorers). Some become virtual friends, while others have become hiking partners and true friends in the traditional sense of the word. One person who I've hiked with, and hope to hike with again, is a true desert explorer and a wealth of information. He mentioned an old WW2 bombing range within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park, and I was totally intrigued. First of all, I had never even heard of it. If I've not head of it, then it's likely one of those "secret" places that few have seen. Second, it's a very short hike (about a mile or so), so I thought it might be fun to take my wife and granddaughter to see what we could find. My friend said he was able to research the site and found it was used between 1944 and 1946. Dummy bombs would be dropped on an area as target practice in order to hone the skills of pilots and improve accuracy. The dummy bombs were made out of metal (likely full of sand) and had "spotting charges" (a small explosive used to help spot the point of impact).
In preparing for a visit to the location, I spent some time studying Google Earth. If there are any bombing practice remains, they must be small. I couldn't see anything that really stood out. However, I could see what might be the remains of curved lines in the sandy soil (yellow arrows, above) making a kind of bullseye target. The WW2 pin would be close to the bullseye center. Pretty cool!
 
As we started our hike, I challenged my granddaughter: "Let's see who can find the most bomb remains!" That got her interested.
 
Ta da!!! Lilly finds the first scrap metal, which we assume is the remains of a practice bomb. It has a nice rusty desert patina and looks like it's been sitting here a long time. OK: Lilly, 1; grandpa, 0!
 
But not everything had a happy ending on this hike. See my wife on the horizon in the photo above? She's exploring and also carrying our dog. We brought our chihuahua with us on the hike, thinking she would enjoy it. But shortly into the hike, she didn't want to walk any more, so we took turns carrying her. Not long after this photo was taken, my wife stepped on top of a burrow. Her foot sunk deep into the sand, she lost her balance, but as she fell, she wanted to hang onto the dog to protect it. She ended up landing on her right shoulder. We would later learn that she fractured her shoulder, along with other complications (I'll spare you the details). Thanks goodness she's doing better now. The shoulder is healing and she begins physical therapy soon.
 

Hard to tell what shape these practice bombs were prior to being dropped out of a plane, but they sure are mangled!
 
My wife found this desert tortoise shell. Some of the pieces of armour (called scutes) have fallen off, leaving the white subshell. I always feel a little sad coming across these. It's very rare to see a live one, although years ago they were common. They seem like a species right on the brink.
 
We came across this old amber jar. What's it doing out here?? (photo by Lilly)
 

We found these old rusty buckets in the area.

Bottom view: Something about "Steel Container Co", Made in Chicago, and patented in 1943.

See the "W" carved into the top of the bucket? Just a guess, but maybe water storage? Water could have been cached out here. Perhaps soldiers were stationed out here during the practice runs to record bomb drop locations.
 
A good time of day for a shadow selfie!

I have no idea!



Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe & stay healthy.
On, and no more hikes with our chihuahua!!
 
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

47 comments:

  1. Wow! These are great. I'd never thought of focusing a hike on detritus from WWII, but now I'm inspired. Sorry about your wife, though. Hope she's okay--and the dog! Also, with its side-focus on the decline of the desert tortoise, not an inappropriate post for Earth Day.

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  2. that was fun but I am so sorry your wife fell and hurt her shoulder. Hope she mends fast. The tortoise shell makes me very sad. I love turtles (tortoise) etc. For over 50 years I have stopped my car when they are in the road and send them back where they came from. I've read they don't have a large range and if you take them far, they'll never make it home.

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  3. ...the debris almost looks like art. Puerto Rico and Hawaii have messes left behind. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend.

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  4. I think my wife would be put off going with me again if that happens to her. We have had quite a few Bomber crashed around here with planes flying back from Bombing raids in WWII, nearest was a couple of miles away. Your lucky to find any remains now though in some of the hills and moors of this country remains of the planes can be seen. Hope your wife is recovering from her fall and has not been put off by her experience

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  5. Hope she's feeling better, and the dog is well. Not all of us are explorers like you and your granddaughter!

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  6. Good detective work on your part! Great pictures as always. I'm glad your lady is doing better.

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  7. WW2 archaeology in the desert. Who'd have thought?

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  8. Lots of interesting finds! I hope your wife heals quickly!

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  9. Greetings and Salutations! Very interesting hike. Hope your wife feels better soon.

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  10. Dearest Peter,
    Wow, you kept us readers captivated with your interesting history lesson here.
    Never heard of it either!
    So sorry to hear about your wife's fate while out there and carrying your dog...
    Wishing her well and a thorough and speedy recovery.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  11. gosh bomb remains, they call in the explosive teams here when that happens, i'm betting the little dog found lots of new smells to sniff.

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  12. aww... I never knew about this "dummy" bombs and areas to hone the pilot skills for war...
    thank you for your descriptions and sharing interesting photos.

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  13. Great post. I truly enjoyed the pictures, Interesting... What a sweet Grand you have, I know she is the real treasure!!!
    Sherry & jack

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  14. Ouch. Sorry about your wife. Small dogs do not like long walks. I don't know why not, but they just don't. Glad your wife is on the mend.

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  15. Amazing what is hiding in your desert - but, oh, your poor wife! What a way to make the trek memorable! Hopefully she is now well along the road to recovery.

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  16. Excellent read. Wish your wife a speedy recovery

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  17. Very cool! Sorry to hear about your wife and dog - hope they are both doing well.

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  18. And so we learn every post something new. Hope it goes better with your wife. Yes discoveries in the desert contain for sure some risks.

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  19. Very Interesting post. Thanks for all pics.
    Sorry to here about your Wife and dog. All izz well.
    Stay well.

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  20. You find the most fascinating sites. It is interesting to speculate about the items you found. I thought one of the supposed bomb remnants looked like a whale's tail. Sorry to hear about your wife's injuries - wishing her a smooth and speedy recovery!

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  21. Your first capture of your grand is hilarious - with all these fashion items:) Sorry about your wife's shoulder. Hope the pain will soon disappear! Hope no one gets hurt this weekend, Jesh

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  22. Great photos from your adventure. Can't beat the desert

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  23. Fascinating area and photos ~ Your granddaughter is as adorable as ever and do hope your wife is doing well ~ Lots of healing energy hugs to all ~ even your little doggie ~ XX

    Living moment by moment,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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  24. What a find!! Sorry about your wife's fall and shoulder. I wish her a speedy recovery. My wife tripped and fell twice on our outing to the Wildlife Refuge a week or so ago. Ironically it was the on the easiest and last hike of the trip.

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  25. Wow, this was so interesting to see and hear about, and your granddaughter is adorable! I'm so sorry about your wife's injury, but glad she's on the mend now. Thanks so much for stopping by to visit today. Have a fantastic weekend!

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  26. Isn't that interesting. I took a falls prevention class back in 2015 and, in the first meeting, we each were asked to tell the class about our falls. I'd say a good 80% of the falls involved a dog (many of them were people tripping over their dogs). This really wasn't a classic "dog caused it" but I could imagine your wife telling this story to the class. Anyway, I am happy she is doing better. And your granddaughter had a day to remember.

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  27. Who knew that a chihuahua could be such a handful. :-) Seriously, glad your wife is recovering. Tough place to be injured.

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  28. Some interesting finds, you never know what's out there. Sorry to hear about your wife's fall, wishing her fast and healthy recovery. Maybe the dog would like to stay at home and keep watch over it. :) Happy weekend to you.

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  29. Sounds like your adventure became an even bigger adventure! I'm surprised to see the shell, i didn't know we had desert tortoise. It's a huge country though, I'm not surprised. Aus keeps surprising me

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  30. You have the most interesting posts. So sorry about your wife's injury. I hope she is better now.

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  31. What a great post! I REALLY Like your shadow selfie . . . Those artistic photos of twisted metal are fascinating. . . I hope you wife is healing nicely.

    Thank you for sharing your adventures!

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  32. The things one finds in the desert...
    Hope your wife is doing well.

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  33. Amazing find and pictures too! Best wishes for a speedy recovery to your wife!

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  34. I am so sorry to hear about your wife's accident! I know shoulder fractures are very painful and can lead to complications. I hope she recovers fully and that physical therapy will give her back full range of motion. I was also sad to hear about the desert turtles disappearing. There seem to be so many animals on the verge of disappearing from so many places. In Colorado mange has been a problem of coyotes and deer and their populations have decreased.
    Seeing all the old bomb artifacts was interesting. I never knew this history! Lily is getting big--I think she is the same age as my oldest granddaughter--they grow too quickly!

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  35. We learn something new every day... Wonderful exploring.

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  36. Hope your wife has a speedy recovery. Sounds like a wonderful treasure hunt. I think I wouldn't know that those are bomb scraps if I come across one.

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  37. You really teach to your granddaughter lifestyle. She will appreciate adventures with grandpa.
    Fantastic photos and interesting day.
    Hope your wife will be ok soon.

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  38. Those ae very special artifacts in the middle of the desert. But to be honoust I prefer the things you normally find, Peter. ;-)

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  39. Cute girl. I always hoped for that name for my Nieces - no such luck. But now I love their names as I love them.
    And the desert, oh, how I miss that!!!

    Ow. Sorry about your wife. Complications with that I can sing a song about... Hope she ends up better than I - good luck!

    Your Lilly is quite a talented photographer.

    Great pics again. Thank you for another journey.

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  40. So very interesting. I hope your wife is recovering nicely so she can be out and about again.
    fun with Lily too. She is a good finder. Odd a place so close that you hadn't explored before.
    Here's to many more good adventures
    MB

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  41. An intriguing series of finds. Hope your wife is soon on the road to recovery. she has my sympathy as I manged to fall (literally) flat on my face the other day - it's a mystery to me how I didn't break my nose.

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  42. So cool! Love the pics and the finds! We have done some camping in Cabeza Prieta NWR and the Barry Goldwater Air force Range in Arizona. You have to get a permit go to to these spots by watching a video that basically warns you that you might find LIVE bombs and are instructed not to touch them. They are both beautiful and interesting places to visit but we never found any bombs or remains of bombs - which would be interesting but maybe a tad bit scary.

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  43. Such an interesting trek and great and unusual finds as well. Sorry to read about your wife's tumble and all because the dig did not want to go on the hike!

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