Cloud covered Mountains

Joshua trees with storm rolling up behind them
Phelan, California

Clouds fall over the mountains onto the desert as if they were a tidal wave in slow motion. Rather than crash on the sand, pieces tear themselves away rising to the sky to make a silent escape.

The Empty Desert

Mojave Desert scenery
View from the El Paso Mountains – Red Rock Canyon, California State Park


I first went to the desert to experience what I thought would be sensory deprivation–after all, there was nothing there. It wasn’t like that though. I saw the wild geology, plants of all different kinds, animals fitting every niche, and human history, then even further back in time to the people without names. The closer I looked, the more I saw, and it all connected. These experiences filled my senses; to see the subdued pastels, to hear the cooing mourning doves, to smell the creosote, feel the rocky earth, and even taste the gritty wax the dry heat of the desert left thick on my lips. Blazing days, frozen nights, campfires cooking up damned strong coffee. Red sunrises, hallowed and silent sunsets. A person could spend a very good lifetime out here.

~ Walter Feller

Hesperia Lake

This compound is across the dirt road east of the lake. I’ve heard different things about what this complex is, was, was supposed to be and ended up being as well as a couple different things along the way. Mostly, at this point in time, it has been under construction.  It looks cool though and is one of the 7 wonders of Hesperia. I think it probably shrinks anyone who goes inside to about 3/4 scale. I have never seen anyone come out
Round buildings and igloos at Hesperia Lake
Round buildings and igloos at Hesperia Lake

Hesperia Lake:


Sometimes the scenery appears to be the same– It looks like that here and there and over there.  Look closer–this sameness is the differences. There are no gradual changes or blending. Everything is this or that.  Hard contrast.  Then, instead of becoming this faceless hole in our memory, we can become aware of our attachment to common reality.

Cajon Pass
Mormon Rocks

Erosion at Mormon Rocks
The sameness of the differences at Mormon Rocks in the Cajon Pass

Dolomite Ghost Town

Dolomite ghost town, Owens Valley
Downtown Dolomite

I suppose the good news is, is that I got this photo of a shack in the little ghost town of Dolomite. I suppose the bad news is that I shot it in 2001 with a low resolution camera. Then again, some good news is that I doubled the size of it and cleaned up a few rough spots on it with my fancy software. And I suppose the bad news is, is that for all my efforts, Dolomite isn’t an authentic ghost town. I’m finding out that it was built for a movie set. It is a bit of good news that the movie was Nevada Smith starring Steve McQueen, one of my favorite movies. The bad news is that I won’t e able to reshoot it because of circumstances beyond my control at the moment. That’s good because it was on private property. It could have been worse when I was caught trespassing the first time. The owner chased me down and started giving me hell for being on his property. So it was a good thing I told him I came in a few miles over and followed the base of the mountain shooting some other ruins while I went along. It was another good thing when he laughed at my little truck and said, “I wouldn’t think you could make it through there in that.” I told him I was just taking some pictures. He told me to “Have at it.”

At least I didn’t get shot.

Dolomite ghost town photos


Better Holes & Middens

Desert Woodrat
Neotoma lepida

Desert pack rat nests can be used by the same pack rat families for generations and generations.

Packrat nest
Wood rat midden

This rodent is commonly known as the “pack rat” or “trade rat” named for collecting any shiny or metallic object it fancies. Its burrow is easily recognized by the rubbish littered about the entrance.

More about the wood rat:

Local History — A 30 Second Story — Silverwood

Silverwood LakeThis is Silverwood Lake. It is named after some guy named Silverwood rather than the silver wood that grows around the lake and Summit Valley. Before they could have the lake there had to be the dam. The dam in this picture is Cedar Springs Dam. Before the dam there was Cedar Springs. It was a small town. It was flooded to make the lake. Everyone moved out first. Some other stuff happened here before that.

The end.

Playas …

Playas, dry lakes, they hypnotize me. Flat and dry and scarred but still pure. Hardened earth and soft skies. An elegant monotony that locks in on whatever lobe in my brain it is that controls my fascination for seeking a niche, an edge, a flaw as my eye draws up to, in this specific case, a dark and slivered horizon. Few words. Clear and open thought. Appreciation. I clap my hands. The sound dissipates and the ever so slight vibrations go on endlessly.

Playa, Superior dry lake, Barstow, CA.
Playa, Superior dry lake

Be Soft …

Joshua Tree National ParkBe soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

— Kurt Vonnegut

Flying Ford

Abandoned 49 Ford sitting in Death Valley National Park
The ol’ 49er

So the way it went is that the guys that were shooting at me fell over when I drove through just like I bowled a strike (and that’s why all the bullet holes are there). Some other guys started chasing me and I was going so fast that people said they could see my dust blowing in the wind for 32 miles. I come barreling down the road and the road turned and I didn’t so I went airborne over that there hill and landed in a dead stop right there where you see it. The old flathead engine was running so hard and fast still and afraid to do anything but go full throttle and it come bursting right out of the hole in the front you see and hurtled into space. About every 80 days the motor still flies by just a humming, spinning, and gleaming in the sun. I swear–true story.

~ Walter