Beginning on September 10, 1955, and continuing for more than 600 episodes over the next twenty years, the television show Gunsmoke ruled the airwaves. Jump ahead 56 years, local author Ben Costello will be joined with author/film historian Julie Ann Ream for “GUNSMOKE NIGHT”. This event will be a tribute to the legendary western TV show. It will be held on Wednesday January 4th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum, 58116 29 Palms Highway, in Yucca Valley. Admission to this Morongo Basin Historical Society event is $5.00. Autographed copies of this book, along with other books will be available….
Some folks say the Mojave Desert is just a bunch of rocks – a “gravel pit.” While other deserts around the world seem to be made of pure sand, those in the American Southwest are a bit rockier. Sand dunes exist, only in sparse locales. The huge monolithic structures that stand out so strikingly from a distance have served as backdrops to many an old western movie.
Imagine the Mojave Desert nearly 12,000 years ago. It was a wetter place but the Ice Age was just coming to an end and many animals were becoming extinct. Mammoths, mastadons, saber tooth cats, giant ground sloths and other animals would soon be wiped off of the face of the earth. At this time one small creosote bush sprouted up through the desert floor and began spreading its mighty roots into the earth; this creosote bush would later be known as King Clone. Possibly at about this same time only a few miles away the ground began to shake, but this was not an earthquake, it was a landslide, possibly the largest landslide that the world and definitely North America had ever seen. This landslide was to be known as the Blackhawk Landslide. I find it quite amazing that these two events occurred at roughly the same time in history and only 4 miles apart in close proximity to State Highway 247 (Old Woman Springs Road), in Johnson Valley, near Lucerne Valley.
Mojave Max, the desert tortoise, emerged from his burrow on March 29, so it must be spring. Granted that the spring arrival is a little late this year due to lingering cool temperatures, still it is welcomed with no less enthusiasm. Max’s girlfriends emerged a few weeks earlier, but Max has the official word. Mojave Max has been the Mojave Desert’s version of the groundhog for many years and lives at Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas. The incumbent is the second in a line of Mojave Maxes that will likely go on into the future….
The day that our paths crossed I was quite surprised, immediately Paleface stood out among the crowd, I tried to befriend him but he kept a safe distance from me. He would come around the barn to scavenge the left over food from our burros and goats. Was he here as an omen? If he was then hopefully a good omen. I may have forgotten to mention who Paleface is, he is a Raven that would visit our ranchette on a daily basis. Paleface was not your average Raven, he was completely white, sure he stood out from the rest but he seemed like a friendly guy. We were used to Ravens coming around to scavenge, a previous frequent visitor was a black Raven whose wing looked damaged but he could fly just fine, he got pretty friendly with me but Paleface kept his distance.
All I want for Christmas is to get outside…
Christmas Eve – the shopping rush is done. But there is a last-minute gift that you can still give your kids – and you won’t have to wrap it. Give them the gift of the outdoors. It’s perfect, really, since it’s free, it’s available at any time, and it’s a gift that keeps giving. Perhaps you’ve had to cut back on the gift-giving this year, if the difficult economic times have affected you. Those popular electronic gifts for kids aren’t cheap….
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has so much to offer as long as you look. I wanted to post this picture to share it with the other Anza-Borrego explorers on the site. However, because desertusa.com is not just some photo posting site (not that there is anything wrong with having a flickr photostream), I felt an obligation to have some kind of story or anecdote accompanying the picture.
Along the S-2 (Carrizo Highway)
Just south of Sweeney Pass
Southern Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
Unfortunately, I did not have one. Plus, trying to come up with something good quickly, without use of cliches or trite-isms, was not as easy as I hoped.
I started by thinking about standing at this site, maybe with someone else or maybe alone. My boot crushes some dry twigs or kicks up some dust as I swat away some flying bugs and watch something run across the road too fast to be identified, but slow enough to catch my eye.
As exotic as this starts sounding, it also starts sounding like a big boring cliche and the story goes as nowhere as the road.
So, after whining for one paragraph and using cliches in another, ironically, the photo now has some background.
See you on the trails as you leave behind clouds of dust and sand…
Sometimes business can turn into pleasure which was the case for me when I conducted some personal business with Helen Holloway and her son Jason. Helen was born in 1920 and is currently 90 years old. She was born Helen Blanding, daughter of Harry and Irene Blanding of Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas is slightly over 2000 feet in elevation and lies on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert with stands of the Mojave Desert’s signature tree, the Joshua Tree. This signature tree of the Mojave Desert is dispersed on the landscape surrounding Las Vegas. Immediately I thought about how nice it would be to hear a few of Helen’s stories so we could share them with DesertUSA readers. This is Helen’s account of her childhood in Las Vegas from 1920 to 1937….
Reptiles get a bad wrap. Slimy, unsavory characters are branded ‘reptiles,’ even though as a rule reptiles are not slimy. Certain occupations are put in the reptile category, presumably referring to their cold-bloodedness. And since I’m from Las Vegas, what about the term ‘lounge lizard’? This refers to guys who hang out in bars. The only reasoning I can think of for this analogy is the picture of wild lizards hanging out in the sun, warming up their normally cold blood. And while observing lounge lizards in the casinos might be fun, I’d like to recommend that you try lizard watching in the desert….