Trees with Warbonnets

Saltating sands
Fluvial braids
Eolian curves

Beauty, of course.
Lightly veiled; delicate and delicate
intricate and complex

set in a silver mantle
beneath blue upon blue
blue within blue
deep and forgetful
changing ever so gradually

extended wings
cupping the sky
lift
lifted
and aloft
in flight . . .

feathers like fingers
fanning in flight
a single feather loosens and falls
twisting, circling, swirling,
and falling in the anonymous wind.

soaring above the mountain cirque
not a cloud can be seen
and always below

hot-headed leopard lizard
trees with warbonnets

snakes eat rats
then chase their tails
coyotes eat rabbits
then chase their tails
the desert lizards
eat bugs and each other
and wildflowers

Saltating sands
Fluvial curves
Eolian twists

—~ W. Feller

Coyote Killers

Bill Frakes was a gentleman from Argentina who brought sheep out to his claim at the old Camp Cady along the Mojave River, As soon as he got there it seems he had sheep problems. They kept dying. They kept dying because the sheep had coyote problems. The coyotes had problems because they always seemed hungry and the sheep were so tasty.

Bill Frakes noticed the coyotes rarely messed with the local bighorn sheep. The bighorn would kick the hell out of the coyotes and cause them more coyote problems than the meal was worth–like broken bones, punctured lungs, and death and stuff…

Bill Frakes had an idea on how to solve everyone’s problems–to interbreed the bighorn with the domestic sheep. He would make coyote-killers and Bill Frakes would be on Easy Street raising flocks and flocks of bad-ass sheep.

The details of what happened next are left in the gray fog of best-forgotten history but there were rumors that there were several very sad and disturbing creatures out there tied to a shed and at night strange animal-like crying and sobbing could be heard.

Bill Frakes’ plan failed miserably with a possible exception; up there in the hills a hybrid ram is said to have escaped, too ugly to die, too ugly to let itself be seen, the King Mutant Ram’s wailing and moaning can be heard to these very modern times in the mysterious night winds of the Afton Canyon highlands . . .

Under the Metallic Sun

Invasive Species

Halleck had zapped in here before. There was no point in attempting to figure out a time or how long ago anything was. There was space and that was strange because there had become a time of no time. There were infinities upon infinities of possibilities actually everywhere.

Moving was simply a matter of being, and that was everywhere. That was how those big-winged birds could fly backward smoothly in jilted frames. The wind was a concern. It was spiraling at supersonic speeds. Mannequins were crying as pretend hands melted away swirling as a gaseous plastic mist into the voracious storm. There was no time, so unfortunately there was neither beginning nor end for the suffering mannequins.

Halleck came to find his love, Betty Dont, which in itself was an omen.

Under the Metallic Sun: Invasive Species
(Mirror sun and stucco flower by Dennis Rudolph)

A Doorway and a Box

Picture of a doorway.

Garund sat on a stone sneering at Garamond. “Go through the door, Garamond,” Garund taunted. Before Garamond could respond, Garund was eaten by many insects. However, Garamond had already gone through the door and did not hear Garund’s muffled screaming and screaming and screaming for help. Even if Garamond could have heard this racket, he would not have been able to go back through because it was a one-way doorway and he had already chosen which way he wanted to go through. It would not have made sense for Garamond to go through the other way.

Now, the next thing not to make any sense was that Garamond was holding a small ceramic box. He removed the lid and inside the was a little man playing a little piano. His name, in fact, was Don Piano. There was a little piano, a miniature candelabra, and Senor Piano was wearing tiny little cufflinks. Don Piano leaned close as to smile and show his exceptionally white teeth. They, his teeth, were impressive. Don Piano played on while the gorgeous Yolo Wednesday sang simple sweet soft swaying songs with her beautiful whispering lisp. . . “Do you realize you were just hypnotized?” asked Don Piano.

As Don Piano played on bluebirds and blue butterflies emerged from the ceramic box of which it has been purposely unmentioned that the box was also blue. There are reasons for everything under the sun, including the shade.

Garamond closed the box.

Neutopia

Ringo floated above the plain
lying
on his back, of course.

sparkling dark stars singing in hum and motion

the pack of coyotes executed their plan
poorly, however,
and in a frenzy, they ate themselves next half-moon

Wide, deep blue ribbons wave lazy in the echoes of evening

these are events sworn to in an Affidavit of
Truth
in the Land of Neverwas.

No Paraphernalia Required!

The March 1915 issue of Motor magazine contained an article by A. L. Westgard on “Motor Routes to the California Expositions.” The following is an excerpt from that article:

Owing to the recent improvement of the transcontinental routes, it is no longer necessary to load one’s car down with all sorts of paraphernalia to combat the many difficulties which formerly were strewed along the path, nor is it, in this day of dependable motor cars, necessary to carry a multiplicity of parts. Still, it is well to outfit with reasonably limited equipment to provide against mud, possible breakdowns, and climatic changes.

To begin with, limit your personal outfit to a minimum, allowing only a suitcase to each person, and ship your trunk. Use khaki or old loose clothing. Some wraps and a tarpaulin to protect you against cool nights and provide cover in the case of being compelled to sleep outdoors are essential. Amber glasses, not too dark, will protect your eyes against the glare of the desert. You will, of course, want a camera, but remember that the high lights of the far west will require a smaller shutter opening and shorter exposure than the eastern atmosphere.

Carry sixty feet of 5/8-inch Manila rope, a pointed spade, a small ax with the blade protected by a leather sheet, a camp lantern, a collapsible canvas bucket with spout, and a duffle bag for the extra clothing and wraps. Start out with new tires all around, of the same size if possible, and two extra tires also, with four extra inner tubes. Select a tire with tough fabric; this is economical and will save annoyance. Use only the best grade of lubricating oil and carry a couple of one-gallon cans on running-board as extra supply, because you may not always be able to get the good oil you ought to use.

And, mark this well, carry two three-gallon canvas desert water bags, then see that they are filled each morning. Give your car a careful inspection each day for loose bolts or nuts and watch grease cups and oil cups. Carry two sets of chains and two jacks, and add to your usual tool equipment a coil of soft iron wire, a spool of copper wire, and some extra spark plugs.

West of the Missouri carry a small commissary of provisions, consisting of canned meat, sardines, crackers, fresh fruit or canned pineapples, and some milk chocolate for lunches. The lack of humidity in the desert sections, combined with the prevalence of hard water west of the Missouri River is liable to cause the hair to become dry and to cause chaps and blisters on the face and hands as well as cause the fingernails to become brittle and easily broken. To prevent this, carry a jar of outing cream and a good hair cleanser. Use them every night.

-.-

The Hanging of Jake

Cowboy Jake was a drifter with a clouded past. It was said he killed seven men when he was down south in old Mexico. It was only four men, worthless sorts, but Jake reveled in the exaggeration. However, Jake’s real problems were shoplifting and petty thievery.

I’m telling you . . .

Once he stole his barber’s glass eye. He sold it to pay for the bandages to stop the bleeding coming from where his earlobe used to be. Apparently, one-eyed barbers have no depth perception.

Ultimately, Jake got himself hanged. It wasn’t for stealing the glass eye or killing the barber, or even killing those guys down in Mexico. The folks up in the sparse and treeless mesa country must have been pretty angry with old Jake–they hanged him without a damned tree–just left him sort of sprawled across the ground. One end of the rope was tied to a rock and the other end noosed and cinched up around his skinny little neck. It is hard for me to explain exactly what went on, but Jake is dead just the same.

Jake had the ‘cooties.’

Jake probably picked them up when he was in a dusty cantina outside of Alvarez. Just about everybody down there had them. Damn ‘cooties.’The good news is that ‘cooties’ don’t live long up in the mesa country. The bad news is they didn’t have to hang Jake. The good news is the townspeople didn’t really give a damn anyway.

Old Geology

Antelope Valley Physiography

Notes from: WATER RESOURCES OF THE ANTELOPE VALLEY, CALIFORNIA.
By Harry R. Johnson – 1911

The physiographic history of the buttes and heights of land east of the Antelope Valley is obscure. No such striking evidence of the origin of the region as that just presented for the Rosamond Buttes was found, yet erosion seems inadequate to fully explain the topography. It is tentatively suggested that this region of irregular buttes and shallow intervening valleys has been less deformed by depression or elevation than either Antelope Valley or the marginal ranges.

Figure 1 is a purely theoretic representation of what are believed to be the main blocks and faults involved in the production of the larger physiographic features of the Antelope Valley region. The small northwestward-dipping block in front of the Portal Ridge block, represents the Antelope Buttes near Fairmont. As the tuffs on the west side of these buttes dip at angles of 35° to 55° northwestward a direction at right angles to the San Gabriel fault system—it is assumed that the underlying granite has been tilted in accordance with the Tehachapi rather than the San Gabriel faults.


These are the Days

There are those memories of the autumnal winds when seasons turn upside down and the icy drama of the silver winter threads through the hollows between trees stirring last year’s brown leaves into a low ruckus and crackle. Thin and bare sycamore branches, delicate and bony, trace low and lonely moans in their dark choir. Pink sand from the nearby riverbed salted everywhere and anywhere; grit flecked in your hair, in your shoes, in your eyes. These are the days. These were the days. These are the heartfelt and kind memories of these days.

California Southern

The importance of our railroad

The Southern Pacific had a monopoly on Southern California’s Transcontinental Railroads. Nothing came in or went out on any other rails than Southern Pacific rails.


However, the Southern Pacific at Needles needed to connect with the bridge at the Colorado River to the Atlantic and Pacific. In order to do this, they worked out an agreement wherein the Atlantic & Pacific could use their rails to ship to and from San Francisco. Southern California still remained in a monopoly.

San Diego wanted a share in the rapid growth of the state. With the high cost of getting there, most tourists simply stopped in Los Angeles.

The California Southern, backed by investors from Boston, built from San Diego to Colton, but the Southern Pacific delayed their progress further north for over a year in what became known as the ‘Frog War.’ ‘Frog’ is the term for a rail crossing rail assembly so that either track can cross the other.

Formidable, but not impossible, building through the Cajon Pass to the Mojave River, through the upper and lower narrows, and then along in the same direction to Waterman, now known as Barstow. San Diego now had the benefit of a link to a transcontinental railroad and Southern California had a competitive transportation network.

W.feller.

The object of the Route Map

MAPS AND SURVEY – 1913
BY ARTHUR R. HINKS, M.A., F.R.S.

CHAPTER III
route traversing
The Explorer’s Route Map

The first care of a traveler who passes through an unknown, or partially explored country, is to make a record of where he has been, and of the main features of the country along the route by which he has traveled. Often singlehanded, encumbered by transport, compelled to keep to the track, and unable to leave his party, he cannot hope to make anything in the nature of a map, in the ordinary sense of the term. But for his own guidance, to avoid getting lost, he is compelled to determine his position day by day in much the same way that the position of a ship is determined at sea, by observation of the Sun and the stars, so that he is able to say roughly in what latitude, and perhaps in what longitude his halting places were. Moreover, as he goes along he is able to make such observations of the shape and course of his path as to enable another man coming after him not only to arrive more or less at the same place but to follow the same route. And finally, he can keep a sort of running record of the things that lie immediately to the side of his path. All this is done by the construction of a “route traverse” or “route map.”

Old Crump

In 1849 a wagon train bound for California split up with many of the members opting for a supposed shortcut to the goldfields. The shortcut did not work out and these intrepid wanderers found themselves stranded, lock, stock, barrel, and four children on the floor of a place that would become known as ‘Death Valley.’

Bennett’s Long Camp

Over a month of hardship and waiting had passed while two heroic young men walked to find a way out and return with supplies in order to bring this band of Lost 49ers to safety. This they did, returning with food, a white horse, and a one-eyed mule. Sadly enough, the white horse had to be abandoned at a dry fall in the Panamint Mountains.

With these heroes returning they could now make their escape. The children were weak, tired, and sick and would not make the trip if they had to walk, so the pioneers sewed several shirts together making saddlebags to carry them in.

The children were uncomfortable and sick. They cried and cried, but ‘Crump,’ the ox selected to bear this burden seemed to sense the importance of carrying its cargo as gently as possible, never missing a step, stumbling, or even making a sudden, jarring move.

This ordeal, beginning late in 1849 and finishing up early in 1850 then became a distant memory to the members of the party.

Years later, a much older William Manly, one of the two heroes that saved the emigrants (John Rogers being the other), was walking down a road in the central valley. He noticed that over in a shady pasture there was a fat ox relishing the long, tender blades of grass. Strangely enough, the ox looked vaguely familiar. Sure enough, it was Old Crump, warm and gentle as ever.

Back in 1850, when things settled after their hardship-fraught journey and arrival at their destination, the owner of the ox retired the creature as a reward for its distinguished service and Crump never worked a day in its life again.

Chapter XI – Death Valley in 49
Wm. Lewis Manly

Summit Valley IV

Summit Valley I, Summit Valley II, Summit Valley III

Tesseract

The shape of the Mojave is formed by everything that is not Mojave.

Ocean Woman rose naked from the sea.  She became the mountains and valleys and glistened as she slept under the moon. She became awake as the sun rose and warmed her. That is what I heard.

Clouds pass by here, everything passes by; shadows, people. It is just desert.  discord, strife, conflict, contention, Jangled trees in discord, sticks, twigs, gray plants that are most likely dead, not that they ever had a chance, or did they?

Patience, Brother. Listen to the raging and eroding wind–with its grit and dust–it will help you to know peace–that anger has no use for ascent.

We come to the desert by different paths at different times for various reasons, this is how the weaving begins. The weaving. The constant weaving and braiding and twisting and tying of stories and realities and things in between. 

This is the land, too. One place becomes another gradually or immediately or maybe something or somehow in between. Everything is the same and everything is different and sometimes that is just by a little bit–little by little–until everything is different. The geology, the plants, and animals–the rare raindrops scattered about on the playa surface attacking the bare earth in numbers so large the washes do not understand the burden they are about to hide beneath.  This is the desert. 

Coyotes laughing. Rats that are cannibals. Lizards that spit venom. Carnivorous insects — I wish!

This is transformation upon transformation.  Metamorphosis.

Painful youth with poignant memories newly scarred, not forgotten, but pushed aside. Here, however, one may clear themselves of the entanglements others twist around us, to distract us, to hamper us. We grow within our chosen realities here.

Time is multidimensional and multidirectional. We have our own time and we are within our time and be inside and outside at the same time. Our time is our time and others try to take that time from you for themselves. Each falls into and overlaps with the others.

We learn to leave it all behind. Luckily enough, alone. 

There is the final question, I calculate–Really?

It seems to be a thousand years, now. 

Laughing coyotes, brotherhood.

Observe the puzzle pieces we are assembled of, each moment of us can be examined from each particle separate or in context within the pieces that are made up of groups of pieces in a gradient fabric made in context within those around us and without. The bighorn sheep are also gregarious beasts.

All the while, the desert is art.

Break it all into pieces and look at the pieces.

Possibly unnoticed, we change and become a different creature, a different being.

You have to grow. There is no choice if you indeed exist.  There will be two paths and you will take one, however, even if you took the other path you would end up where the first would go; over there. 

At least you know that if not directly, there will be some kind of connection between this way and that way over there. There is nothing that says you will end up better if you go one way or the other–one way is neither right nor wrong–possibly–you will, however, end up where you are meant to be. That can be a horrible shame.

And over there, either way, will be the same thing repeated, only in a slightly different light

Echoes

Jagged shards of odd gray clouds fall from shattered skies–puzzling, spinning, whirling, tumbling in the wind.

Echoes upon echoes and echoes within echoes within echoes as they may be.

Near the edge
On the edge
Over the edge

Emotions
Worthless things.
Over the edge, they go
emotional avulsion
hollow anxiety
Aloneness.

Over the edge
On the edge
Near the edge

One lump or two?
the Hostess asked.

That is not a snake. That is an omen.

The Long Mornings

August is the month of the long mornings.
Starting before sunrise Sol burns the air to the east sending it here in thick slow-rolling waves.
It is not at all unpleasant,
the effect is comforting in its ambient beauty.
Subtle.
Sustained.
There is a degree of perfection in this rounded nexus–a timelessness in time–in a singular day before the flat-heat whiteness begins.
All of this is August, the month of long mornings.

The Rocks Speak

RockMojave River, West Fork

Some rocks (not this one) will speak. I remember the first time a rock ever spoke to me. I was out near the Colorado River in a wash littered with evenly shaped cobbles. They were slightly different subtle colors, red, blue, gray, pink, and so on, and so forth. They were so very pretty lying in the wash with blue sky, billowing clouds, and all of that was attractively scattered here, there, and everywhere.

One rock stood out to me. I picked it up and took a good look. It was a little bigger than the palm of my hand in a comfortably rounded shape. There were no blemishes or markings or really anything that would note this stone as different from any other stone in the wash. However, it felt different. It felt like it knew me and was waiting for the day that I would come and pick it up. Today.

Then it spoke to me. I stood there dumbfounded, mouth agape for quite a long time. The rock had said, “I want to go to your house.”

“Then what?” I thought.

It heard my thoughts. It must be, like, telepathic.

“You need me,” the rock said. It continued; “I am the exact size you need to cover that big red plastic tumbler that you use to soak pieces of mesquite in water to give your BBQ smokey flavor. I am the correct weight to keep the wood submerged so that it may get wet.”

So I brought it home and it was right. It has been perfect for the job. I use it every BBQ. Now, when the rock speaks to me you know what it says? It says nothing. Not a word. Not a sound. Just like it is just a rock.

It is still a cool rock though.

Walter Feller

Upper San Gorgonio Mountains

10,000 Foot Ridge

This subsection comprises the higher elevations and cooler parts of the San Bernardino Mountains. The mountains are a horst with faults and steep escarpments on the south-southwest, east-northeast, and west-northwest sides. The subsection is made up of steep and very steep mountains with narrow to rounded summits. The elevations range is from about 4000 feet up to 11,502 feet on Mount San Gorgonio. The predominant natural plant community is Ponderosa pine series. Precipitation is about 30 to 40 inches annually. Much of it is snow. All but the larger streams are dry through the summer. There have been natural lakes, but any lakes that persisted until historical times have been replaced by reservoirs.

For a more detailed description see;
Upper San Gorgonio Mountains

Also see;
Lower San Gorgonio Mountains

Vasquez Rocks – Photos

View of the principal formation from the west.
The typical, iconic side is on the east capturing the morning sun.
The entire look of the place may change in just a few footsteps.
This place is a maze with countless places to stay out of sight. If I were a movie director I would want to film here. If I were a robber I believe I should find this a good place to hideout.
Ample dining facilities–especially if you do not mind sharing–a table, or your sandwich.

Afton Canyon

Afton Canyon

At the mouth of Afton Canyon, it may be easier to visualize a great lake, Lake Manix, breaching its shores and its waters carving this terrible and yet beautiful gorge through the layers of the millions and millions of years of earth that have gone before. At least at one time, it was believed this all occurred rapidly, over the course of a few weeks, raging in colossal destruction. Now, I believe, the evidence shows it was not just one seismic event that provoked this tearing of the landscape, that it took place over thousands of years driven on by multiple events and changes in climate.

Afton Canyon

Lake Manix

Saltation

Thin clouds of purest white streaked through the crystalline sky miles above the dune as it glistened and glittered in the morning’s golden sunlight. The ever-present wind swirled out of its invisibility high above grazing the crests of each swell, placing a yellow halo at the crown of each and every rise. Soon, these phenomena broadened and covered everything leeward. Never just one grain but nearly an infinite amount of particles bouncing and flying over the top. The sandscape vibrating and flirting with focus and vision. Wave after wave, all as if it were applauding itself, this audience of at least trillions upon trillions upon trillions of its own. This is the way sand dunes travel and comfort themselves.

There is no apparent grand purpose other than subtle providence, yet, that is grand in itself.

After all the commotion, Bug, the darkling beetle, emerged from its hiding place an inch below the surface. Rat, arrived first, however, and it ate Bug. Then Hawk also swirled out of its invisibility high above in the crystal sky and snatched Rat with bloody talons flying off home to its ravenous brood.

Rat knew he had come to his end, for all rats die as does everything else that lives. Rat was pleased that it was Hawk that would consume him. Coyote or Snake would not honor him with such an aerial showing of the vast world he lived in before he was killed.

END
w.feller

END
w.feller

Ghosts & Gold

Mojave Trail

Mojave Trail

Monument at Las Flores Ranch

This secluded valley once bore primitive traffic and knew the lithe tread of native feet. The ancient Indian trail from the Colorado River to the coast led up the Mojave River into the mountains and climbed Sawpit Canyon to the summit of the range. The Piute Indians, using this trail, leaving a pathway that guided a Spanish priest, explorers, and pioneers across the desert waste and over the mountain barrier. When the Mormons came, in 1851, immigrant wagons wore a well-marked road through Cajon Pass. Thereafter, the old Mojave Trail through Summit Valley was little used.

Billy Holcomb Chapter No. 1069, E Clampus Vitus