Thursday, December 28, 2023

Ready or Not...

 ... Here comes 2024!! I vaguely recall this time last year, thinking what a tough year 2022 had been, and that there was no way to go but up for 2023. My expectations were high, and if I'm honest, I think 2023 only partly met my expectations. It seems as if humanity is still on a self destructive pathway, and in some ways, getting even worse.
But as we fly into 2024, I'm hopeful it will be a great year, or at least a better year. It will take time.
In the meantime, I'll keep looking up. Keep appreciating our daily sunrises and sunsets, and being thankful for all I have.

Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you a very happy & healthy 2024!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Under Desert Skies

 We had finish up a longish hike, and as is our custom, got camp chairs out of the car to sit and relax. But the sky was gorgeous and kept calling to me, so not much sitting going on. It struck me as kind of comical that I hauled my heavy camera and two lenses all over heck and back, only to get my best shots of the day from the parking lot!
Last light on the boulders.

As if the beautiful skies weren't enough to get us out of our chairs, we had the moon pushing up through the clouds in the eastern sky. Wow!
Looking west. North, south, east, west... didn't matter. Sky was beautiful in every direction!
Birds were an added bonus!

Travis with that pesky moon on his shoulder!
(All photos taken from the "Keys West" parking lot after finishing the hike.)
Wishing you the happiest of holidays!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

A Classic Beach Sunset!

I was comfortably kicking back in our motel room when I heard the ding of an incoming text message. It was from my wife (who was out walking the dog): "You need to come out and look at the sky." The sky had been overcast earlier, and I figured the sunset would be dull and gray, but my wife is not one to exaggerate. Overcoming the inertia that had set in, I headed out the door. 
My wife walking the dog. Now that's a nice sky!
Lots of people were out watching the sun drop into the Pacific!

A photographer hard at work...
... with his girlfriend waiting for him.

The end of a perfect day!
Thanks for stopping by!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Cave of the White Orbs

 This hike was near perfection: A location with abundant cultural artifacts, beautiful desert scenery, and gorgeous skies. What more could I possibly ask for?! It had been a couple years since my last visit to this site and I was anxious to see it again. I was hiking with three trusted friends (who I knew would not share location information) who have logged more hiking hours in Joshua Tree National Park than anyone I know. Even after thousands of hours of hiking time, none of them had ever seen this site.
Pretty skies and a perfect day for a hike in the desert!
Yellow blooming Cinchweed carpeting the ground. 
An amazing find! A fellow hiker had found this obsidian arrowhead on his last hike in the area. We made a short diversion to see if we could find it again. Arrowheads are extremely rare in Joshua Tree, and obsidian is not native to the area, so this is a very special find. This one has a little section broken off where my finger is pointing.
More Cinchweed under a pretty sky.
Pottery sherds are often seen at this site. This is the largest piece we found on this hike. Based on the gently sloping curve, it must have been part of a very large piece of pottery (perhaps an olla).
Ah, there it is!!! On my last hike to this site, I looked ALL OVER for this grinding slick and never found it. It's on a large boulder inside a shelter. On this hike, I stumbled across it totally by accident! I wonder what type of food preparation went on here? There are actually two very visible slicks on this boulder (see below). Amazing to think about how much grinding must have occurred over the years to smooth out the rocks like this!
I consider this area to be one large site, likely a seasonal site used by Native Americans many times over the years. Within this site, there are three rock art locations that I've come across (and likely others that have escaped me). The photo above (using dStretch to enhance color) is one I call "Children's Cave". It has a very small opening (too small for an adult) with pictographs inside, including what look like fingerprints and handprints. The handprints are quite small.
Roger next to "Children's Cave". Dstretch does funny things to peoples skin!
Star within a sun.
Close to "Children's Cave" is a second pannel with some really interesting pictographs (photos above and below). 
Saving the best for last, we head over to the Cave of the White Orbs.
Getting into the cave is not easy, especially for old farts (of which I am one!). Here's Mitch & Roger (in the shadows), checking things out. Not only is it cramped, but it's dark, making it hard to photograph.
The inside of this small cave-like area is full of interesting and unique pictographs, but it's the hanging orbs that steal the show! Interesting that two of the orbs are solid white, and the other two are outlined on the inside with red pigment. After seeing this site, you're left with a sense of awe. You can't help but wonder what it all means, but to guess at the meaning feels like it somehow trivializes the work done by the People who created these pictographs all those years ago.
Mitch & I hiking back. Note: This photo is nowhere near the actual site.
**Please respect cultural sites. Look and photograph, but don't touch. Leave pottery sherds and similar artifacts as and where you find them.**
Thanks for stopping by!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Sunset Cliffs Park, San Diego

 "Ho′ dad": A non-surfer who frequents surfing beaches and pretends to be a surfer. 
Under 99 gazillion sold!!
Sticker van!
 On my last post, I mentioned Ocean Beach is a fun, quirky place. The above two photos gives you a flavor of this cool little beach town! We had barely scratched the surface before we decided to go check out something on the map called "Sunset Cliffs" (a very short drive from Ocean Beach).
Sunset Cliffs: Looking north.
Looking south.
Sunset Cliffs extend quite a distance down the beach. It was mid-day and cloudy, but I can totally imagine how beautiful it must be here during a beautiful sunset. You could spend the better part of a day hiking and exploring the cliffs, both up on top and down below on the beach (best to go during low tide). You will see arches, caves, Rum Runner Cove, Smuggler's Cove, and multiple lookout points. I really wanted to see and explore Sunset Cliffs Cave, which has a large circular opening to the sky, but you need a good low tide to get into the cave. The tide was high for us, so nothing doing.
Photo credit: UCSD Gardian
Sunset Cliffs Cave: I only wish this was my photo! What an amazing cave. When the tide comes in, you could float in here on a kayak (or swim in, which would be extremely dangerous). You can walk in during a good low tide, but you better make sure you don't stay long, and get out before the tide rises!
The ocean has done a beautiful job eroding the sandstone into interesting shapes!

We even managed to get the dog in the picture, although we couldn't get her to smile!
Time to head back to town for some dinner. Maybe a burger at Hodads?
Thanks for stopping by!!
Linking with Skywatch Friday.