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Big rocks and funny trees

I spent Wednesday at Joshua Tree National Park. It's about 150 miles east of Los Angeles in the California's Mojave Desert. Flew to Palm Springs Tuesday night, flew home today (Thursday). So, a very short vacation.

Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) are native to the Mojave. It's a forest. A really sparse, dry forest of weird little trees. The national park is a million acres of the native habitat of this strange flora.

And then there are the rocks. And the ravens.

I came in at the south entrance and stopped first at Cottonwood Spring, a little oasis where 30 gallons or so of water a day trickle out of the ground, enough to attract all the bird life in the park and sustain several magnificent California fan palms.

While wandering around the Cottonwood Spring area, I encountered a large raven.

Raven is a trickster in Native American mythology. He steals the sun. This one put on a show for me, clacking his beak, dragging something presumably dead and yummy out of the shadows with his talons, and then flying directly toward me, all black wingtips like fingers. All I could think, as my camera utterly failed to focus or shoot fast enough, was "Damn." And, "I need a faster camera."

Joshua Tree is an otherworldly landscape, in a bone-dry valley three to five thousand feet above the desert floor. Geologists have ideas about how the big rocks got there and then how they were shaped. I read about these theories in the exhibit. I did. But then I walked out among the rocks themselves and went back to thinking, "magic."

It was about 90° F up there. Whole lotta sky.

You'd think Henry Moore had had a hand in it. For scale, these two rocks are about eight feet high apiece. The forms are purely the work of nature.

Monumental head of the fallen Baby King. Or, you know, more work of nature.

Skull Rock. Homer Simpson's skull, perhaps?

Suggestive, to say the least.

I spent a half hour or so lying under that hanging rock. It's about six feet across and maybe ten or twelve feet above the ground on the prongs of those two bigger rocks.

Here's the lying-down view.

Another landscape.

Wildflowers at Key's View, the highest point in the park, looking out over an ancient seabed. The haze is smog from Los Angeles.

As I was leaving the park late in the afternoon, Mr. Raven was there to say goodbye.

I drove back to my hotel in the Palm Springs area, and flew home Thursday morning. Met Gwendolyn Awen Jones, a fascinating author and healer, on the plane. A huge coyote loped across the runway as we were waiting for takeoff. I nudged Gwendolyn and said, "Look! A coyote," and she said, "You have a Trickster."


(Deleted comment)
May. 13th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
Well, I did try. But apparently comment on any subject or photograph with even the faintest modicum of the whisper of a suggestion of anything like...you know...that--well, it's too scary to respond to.

Either that or someone's very, very busy.




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