Salvation Mountain

California USA, 1 October 2016

With Jeni Bate of Skyscapes for the Soul.

(Click on any image for a larger view).

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Next we visited Salvation Mountain, near the south west corner of the Salton Sea.

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Leonard Knight created Salvation Mountain.

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He came to this area in 1984 with a massive 230-foot high hot air balloon he had sewn together over a six year period.  It had ten-foot high letters on the side; “God is Love”.

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He came to Camp Dunlop or Slab City, near the south west corner of the Salton Sea but more on that in the next post.

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He had help from the locals at Slab City to launch the balloon but when it came time for the launch, he discovered that the material had rotted so the launch never took place.

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Inside the Hogan.

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Art, Desert, History, Landscape, Photography, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, Sculpture, Travel

So, instead of the balloon, he decided to display his God is Love message on the face of a small nearby mesa.  However, concrete was expensive and he used too much sand.  So after three years of hard work, when he must have thought he was making progress, his creation slithered down the face of the mesa into a gloopy mess.

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Undeterred, in 1989 he started again, using a small donated front-end loader to cut more deeply onto the hill and using metal scrap to anchor his new façade into the hill.

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He proceeded without needing regular income, scavenging materials and receiving donations of paint, money and food.

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Inside “The Museum”.

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In 1994 there was some controversy about the presence of a private monument on public land and the local government threatened to bulldoze the mountain due to the claimed presence of lead in the paint.  This produced public support, including a documentary from a Los Angeles film maker and the local authority relented.  An independent assay also showed no lead in the soil.

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It was declared “a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection” by the Folk Art Society of America in 2000.  In 2002, Senator Barbara Boxer of California entered Salvation Mountain into the Congressional Record as a national treasure.

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Leonard Knight aimed to repaint the mountain every year to ensure the paint remains thick but he died in 2014.  In his absence, volunteers continue this maintenance.

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This is his truck.  He initially used it to transport scavenged materials and at least later, lived on the back of it.

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“He lived in the funky camper on the back of his old flatbed”.  I presume this is it (or perhaps, was it).

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Salton Sea (IR)

California USA, 1 October 2016

With Jeni Bate of Skyscapes for the Soul.

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If you have not read the previous post on the Salton Sea then you really should do so.  It contains images from similar places but also includes the ecological history of the Salton Sea and the way in which it represents a modern ecological parable.

(Click on any image for a larger view).

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The sign is headed SCSB – could this be Salton City Surf Beach?  It goes on to say: Property/ Parking Lot/ XXXX (i.e. erased) & Jetty/ Open to Public Use/ Sunrise to Sunset.

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This is the end, beautiful friend, this is the end my only friend, the end (Jim Morrison, not to be confused with Van Morrison).

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

Of course everyone knows that the camera presents a completely accurate representation of reality.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

What is not so commonly known is that cameras have a mind-reading chip and really show what you see when you look at the subject.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

This is why images commonly have more contrast, more saturated colours  and more pleasing renditions than reality.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

It is also why most nude photographs you see are of people who had their clothes on at the time.  It just depends on how the photographer’s mind works.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

One of my cameras is particularly honest and shows what I saw as I stood there in the searing heat with the agricultural toxins born on the wind slowly searing into my brain.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

Sometimes it is night, sometimes it is day and sometimes in the day it is night.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

We’re on a road to nowhere….

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

Perhaps this is an alien landscape with a dead robot trying to emerge from the primordial slime.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

Here, though, Jools and Jeni are discussing what we can possibly say to the rental car company.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

The reality is having an identity crisis.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

It is changing before our eyes.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

So back to normal reality.  Here we are at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club, hoping for a swig or two amongst the jet-setters.

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The streetlight is causing a total eclipse of the sun.

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It’s gone now.

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Ah, but it’s back again to normal daylight.

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You may think they are giant mushrooms but I’m assured they are palm trees.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

Notwithstanding what appears to be an orange jump suit, i can assure you this is not a person recently escaped from prison.

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

Fish and chips anyone?  (Fission chips may be another option but Diablo Canyon is hundreds of kilometres away).

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Desert, Ecology, Infrared, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness

I’m told the fishing has been better.

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Purple haze all in my brain.  Lately things don’t seem the same….

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The great desert paradise of Bombay Beach.  I didn’t manage to catch the frolicking Beach Boys at the time though.

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Salton Sea

California USA, 1 October 2016

With Jeni Bate of Skyscapes for the Soul.

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This day we drove clockwise around the Salton Sea.  This post show the journey from Salton City to Bombay Beach as well as comments on the history and current fortunes of the Salton Sea.

(Click on any image for a larger view).

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As you read the account that unfolds  below, you may wish to come back to this map occasionally.  Note the Salton Sea at the top, the American Canal that is now the main source of water diverted from the Colorado River at just above the border, Canal Central (the diversion from the early 20th century) below that in Mexico, the Colorado river flowing from top right and the Gulf of California (or the Sea of Cortez) at the bottom.

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The Salton Sea at the north-east corner.

Most readers will be aware of the long peninsula below California in Mexico which is the Baja California Peninsula.  The body of water between that and the rest of Mexico is the Gulf of California.  The peninsula and gulf are a consequence of seismic activity along the San Andreas fault, a part of which runs under the Gulf of California and along the valley to the north of it, including the Salton Sea.

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The ecology of the Salton Sea is also highly connected with the Colorado River.  Five million years ago, the Colorado River was much more minor or did not exist as such and there were massive glacial lakes in the centre of North America, held there by glacial ice.  There was a catastrophic collapse of the ice wall, like a giant dam collapsing, and huge amounts of water were released along the Colorado River, carving out the Grand Canyon in a relatively short period of time.  Around 600,000 years ago there were also several episodes where the canyon was dammed by volcanic lava and after a time spectacularly broke though.  This creates lots of sediment which has to go somewhere and the Colorado River comes out at the Gulf of California.

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Desert, Ecology, History, Irrigation, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Once there were palm trees, planted in the 50s or 60s.  Now few survive.

So the end of the Gulf of California is also the delta of the Colorado River.  Even with water in it, the Salton Sea is below sea level, so the delta of the Colorado River has blocked it off from being part of the Gulf of California.  The Salton Sea is not thought to have previously been part of the Gulf of California though.  Rather, the whole valley it is in sunk as a result of seismic activity along the San Andreas fault.

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Tombstone for a palm tree, now in the desert.

The course of the Colorado River at the delta is very changeable since it flows though loose alluvial soils.  The area below sea level in the Salton Watershed is also much larger than the current Salton Sea.  In the last thousand years water from the Colorado River has poured in to fill this area four times, forming a body of water called Lake Cahuilla, and then receding.  The last time it dried up was around 1700.

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Salt, water, mountains.

The Salton Sea is an historical accident.  In the nineteenth century it was dry.  From 1900 Charles Robinson Rockwood constructed a canal to divert water from the Colorado River to enable irrigation of potential farmland in the Imperial Valley below what is now the Salton Sea.  The canal initially ran parallel to the river.  The mouth of the canal silted up so he cut another.  This silted up too so he cut another, larger opening.  But this time, cutting financial corners, he failed to construct a gate to regulate floods.  And in 1905, there was a massive flooding of the Colorado River.  It changed course to flow along the canal and poured into the Salton Sink unchecked for two years, creating the Salton Sea.

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Dead fish on the salt.

Eventually, after massive expense and remarkable effort, Edward Harriman of the Southern Railroad Company plugged the gap but the Salton Sea was born.

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Lots of dead fish on the salt.

In response to fears of flood and drought, and to avoid canal water sourced from Mexico, there was a massive project in the 1930s to build the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and a new All-American canal north of the Mexican border to irrigate the land between the border and the Salton Sea.

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Desert, Ecology, History, Irrigation, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

This and earlier images are Salton City and surrounds.  Here we have a resident who has managed to retain and water their palm trees.

There came to be a successfully irrigated agricultural industry but the modified flow of the Colorado River affected Mexico as well as the US.  An international agreement short-changed Mexico which only received one third to one half of the water that went to the Imperial Valley.  The magnificent delta lands at the mouth of the Colorado were also greatly compromised.  Previously it had been a wetlands paradise for wildlife.

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The end, but of what?  The end of Time?  The end of Western Civilisation?  The end of Life as we know it?  The end of Memory? The end of speculative development projects? The end of water?  The end of the Salton Sea?  The end of words?  Or is it just where Jim Morrison came when he wrote “This is the end …”?.

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The level of the sea has not always remained constant though.  Notwithstanding the Hoover Dam, there were floods in the seventies and eighties that raised the level for a while and then subsided.  The level now is lower than it was in say the 1960s.

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In 1958, M Penn Phillips launched Salton City to replace the desert as “the Salton Riviera”.   There were to be 250,000 lots with roads, electricity, sewage, a golf course and a marina.  Nine thousand fan palms were planted.  Lots were sold on the never-never where buyers didn’t own anything until all payments were made.

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Once a Marina, perhaps.

Phillips bailed out in 1960 and by the end of the 1960s the bubble had deflated.

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Still a jetty and a boat though the water has receded from the original jetty.  This is probably at Desert Shores.

As early as 1927 there was fishing, boating and waterskiing on the sea and for a while there was an edge of glamour with this.  During the sixties and seventies the Salton Sea was a fisherman’s paradise and a refuge for large numbers of migratory birds.  From the 90s it has become a poisonous ecological disaster.  Millions of fish died at a time.  There were massive epidemics of seabirds.  Bad odours have wafted from the lake, especially during die-off events.

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We left the lake for a while to walk in a nearby valley.

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Desert, Ecology, History, Irrigation, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

Desert, Ecology, History, Irrigation, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

Desert, Ecology, History, Irrigation, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Ever left your car and not sure you can find it again?  Especially a rental car?

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The key didn’t seem to work and I couldn’t get the motor to turn over.

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There seemed to be something wrong with the car but there was no mechanic nearby.

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Desert, Ecology, History, Irrigation, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

Desert, Ecology, History, Irrigation, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Lone pelican on a pole.

(For this and the next seven images, we are at or near North Shore Beach and Yacht Club).

The Salton Sea is a sink.  It is below sea level.  There is nowhere else for the deposits of the water to go.  The water there is saltier than sea water but that is not the problem because other salt lakes can be much saltier and still support abundant bird life.  It also has concerning levels of metals such as selenium, washed down the Colorado, but this is not the problem either.  It received agricultural runoff mainly from the US and also sewage and industrial waste from Mexico, which builds up year by year.

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A few surviving palm trees.

Corvina (cilus gilberti), a large seawater fish from Central and South America, was introduced to the sea in the 1950s.  Then tilapia, mainly freshwater fish from Africa, were introduced to the sea in the 1960s to the great delight of the corvina.  The salinity of the lake at that time, about the same as seawater, was not a problem for the tilapia and the level of nutrients from the agricultural runoff meant that they flourished.  Consequently, the population of corvina skyrocketed to an extraordinary extent.  It was easy to catch 20-pound corvina (9 kilos) and 30-pound (14 kilo) fish were also available.

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Pelican on the wing.  Perhaps the rared brown pelican rather than the white one.

From the eighties and especially from the nineties, the sea started to become too salty for the tilapia and the excess nutrients continued to build up resulting in excessive blue green algae, bacteria and parasites.  This came to include selenium-contaminated pile worms, cyanobacteria, botulism spores and amyloodinium gill parasites.  This produced die-offs of millions of tilapis in single events.  There was a bird sanctuary at the south of the sea.  Then came mass bird die offs, principally grebes, pelicans and cormorants, from eating the poisoned fish.

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Lots more dead fish again.

Given that the Salton Sea is a sewage sink, this problem is going to get worse.  The fish are largely or entirely gone now and fish-eating birds are scarce.  The sea is on their migration routes but continuing loss of habitat means there may not be somewhere else for them to go.

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The fisherman seems to have stepped aside for a smoko.  Perhaps there were no fish to catch anyway.

There have been studies on how to effect a solution and two main alternatives emerged.

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One was to physically divide the sea in two, half for “fresh” water and the other half for an evaporative sump.  In the long term though, nutrients and salts would continue to come in and this would not work.

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Tyre and rust.

The other was to pump water from the Gulf of California to the Salton Sea, restoring the sea to the level of say the 1960s.  At the same time, there would be a controlled outflow the other way.  This could extract pollutants using the mothballed Yuma desalination plant, which was completed but never used because a flood destroyed the canals that would supply it.  The flushing is necessary because otherwise there would still be a buildup of pollutants.  In time fish could be introduced again.  However, this would require the cooperation of Mexico which would require special treatment since it has received the raw end of the deal so far.

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More dead fish.

Neither of those options eventuated.

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My guess is that this was a boat and what pokes up is the mast.

The Salton Sea is drying out and must have deteriorated significantly since I was there in 2016.  In 2003, measures were taken to improve efficiency of water usage in the Imperial Valley, including moving from flushing the soil with water runoff to drip irrigation.  The unanticipated effect of this though was to reduce the excess water flowing into the Salton Sea.  At the same time, there was an agreement to transfer large amounts of water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego.  An “easement period” in which it was assumed that relief measures would be taken for the Salton Sea, expired in 2018.  Nothing had been done for the sea in the intervening period.  From 1st January 2018, 40% less water flows into the Salton Sea.  That must be having a significant effect.

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Former pleasure craft or fishing craft.  Not currently much in use it seems.

Some remedial action is occurring but not much.  It follows a solution for another problem.  Owen’s Lake, inland from San Francisco and Los Angeles, was drained for Los Angeles water in the early 20th century.  By the second half of the 20th century it had become the single largest source of dust in the US.  From 1997 they replaced the dustbowl with a series of shallow ponds, which solves that problem though requires continuing maintenance.

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The shore has receded.  We are at Bombay Beach, once a celebrity destination.

A similar proposal has started for the Salton Sea.  However, it only affects a small area at the southern end of the sea.  For the rest, the sea will continue to recede and give rise to dust clouds laden with insecticides and other toxins.  In due course this will probably become a noticeable problem for LA as well.  Already there have been very high levels of asthma for decades in people living in the Imperial Valley south of the sea.  Conditions south of the border in Mexico are likely to be worse.

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There is another solution that Nature itself may provide.  Seismic activity along the San Andreas fault could open a fissure so that water rushes in and the entire Salton sink becomes part of the Gulf of California.  That may not be a desirable solution for the many people that live or farm there.  It may even be inevitable.  But even if so, it may not happen for maybe even millions of years.

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… and the population has receded too.

It’s easy to look at this as a severe problem in an isolated obscure area that nobody much has heard of or should worry about.  But it’s also part of an ecological crisis in the south west of the US associated with twenty years of drought in the Colorado Basin.

More generally, it is a metaphor for what we are doing to the environment and how urgently our action is required.  Climate change, over-consumption and overpopulation are rapidly undermining our world.  This calls for well considered action.  Solutions are expensive but so is ignoring the problems.  Pretending there is no problem and doing nothing will not work.

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My primary source for this account has been Salt Dreams by William de Buys and Joan Myers.  I have also made some reference to Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau by Ron Blakey and Wayne Ranney, A history of water — and the Salton Sea — in Imperial by Neal V Hitch, Salton Sea: California drought could soon see the state’s largest body of water sleeping with the fishes by Tim Walker and Dust Rising by Michael Zelenko.

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(I have usually been posting once a week but this post has been delayed by the time required for research.  The next post has infrared images and that is also likely to be delayed because they are time-consuming to process, and also because I have some other tasks including preparing, printing and framing three images for an exhibition.)

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Encounters with Megafauna

Galleta Meadows, Borrego Springs, California USA, 30 September 2016

With Jeni Bate of Skyscapes for the Soul.

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A few days before, we saw the remains of prehistoric megafauna that had been trapped in the La Brea Tar Swamps.  There are still a few places you can see them though such as here at Galleta Meadows.

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Their brown colour is an evolutionary adaption for living is a desert environment.  Indian and African elephants by contrast are grey because they evolved to live in black and white forests before the age of colour. You can see this in old films and nineteenth century photographs.

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This appears to be a small group of gomphotheres which are usually very hard to find in the wild.  Not sure of the actual species though.

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Getting up close and personal with a gomphothere.

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A very large locust or grasshopper and a scorpion.  Quite a bit larger than a human.

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They were just sitting there sizing each other off, hardly moving at all.  Well if they were moving at all, I didn’t notice it.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have got quite so close.  I understand scorpions can move quite quickly when they have a mind to.

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Grasshoppers and locusts are essentially the same but they are locusts when they swarm.  Younger readers may not remember bygone decades driving through a plague of locusts when they would hit your windscreen like hail.  These days the thoughtful agricultural chemical producers have solved this problem by eliminating something like 90% of insects world-wide in the last forty years or so.  Before long they could well take this wonderful profit-based progress even further and eliminate all flowering plants.  Then we will all be able to experience the extraordinary privilege of living in a desert.

In the meanwhile, Californian residents must have interesting times in locust plagues.  Having one of these coming through your car window could make quite a difference to your day.

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There was also a group of agricultural workers.  They are protesting about low rates of pay for agricultural workers in an insufficiently regulated economy and involved in a form of industrial action known as a go-slow.  They are taking this very literally.

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You will notice that behind to the right is a tall thin sculpture from the prehistoric era before wifi.  It is called a telegraph pole.  No-one is sure what a telegraph was.  Some kind of precursor to wifi, it seems, using fender telecasters and some kind of drawings.

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Here are a couple of ground sloths but they were too preoccupied to notice me.  When photographing wildlife you have to be quite sensitive to the situation and not for example wander right up to a ground sloth or a bear to take a selfie.

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The largest ground sloths come in at four tonnes and six metres long (20 feet).  I’m not sure how big this one was and I didn’t weigh it.

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You might think it is surprising to see a Chinese dragon in California but their range has been increasing.

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You can see it is shimmying along through the desert sand and this is because it has burrowed through all the way from China.

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I didn’t see it breathing any fire but if you sneak up behind it and touch its skin, you can see that it can get very very hot.

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Some say that the Chinese Dragon is casting a larger shadow these days but I didn’t really notice that while I was here.

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That massive tongue looks almost like the trunk of an elephant so perhaps  dragons evolved into elephants.

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This looks to be just an ordinary elephant. Perhaps it escaped from a zoo.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

There were also a couple of locals here, who appeared to be having navigational difficulties with their vehicle.

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Desert, Galleta Meadows, Landscape, Megafauna, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Sculpture, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

I asked them what they were doing there but they didn’t want to talk to me or even acknowledge me so I went off in a huff.  (A huff is a somewhat impractical motor vehicle that is a cross between a Hummer and a Fiat 500).

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Borrego Palm Canyon

Borrego Palm Canyon, Salton Sea, California USA, 30 September 2016

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This is a map of our journey to LA, the Salton Sea and Joshua National Park.  You may need to click on it to see more detail (all images are larger if you click on them).

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Dawn at the Salton Sea.

We drove from LA 160 miles (260km) WSW to Salton City on the Salton Sea.  We were guests of Jeni Bate who I had met online through our respective WordPress sites.  She showed us around the Salton Sea area and we had a great time.  I highly recommend you visit her Art Website:  Skyscapes for the Soul.

(More on the ecology and history of the area in a later post).

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We headed west from Salton City in the morning.  This is a view from the side of the road, perhaps at Montezuma Valley Road Lookout.

We stopped for lunch in the small town of Borrego and saw an exhibition of Jeni’s paintings at the Borrego Art Institute.

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

This whole area is desert of course.  We’re now heading towards Borrego Palm Canyon in Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park.  This appears to be at the Borrego Palm Canyon Trailhead.

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

In the canyon now.  This is a barrel cactus.

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

A hummingbird feeding on an ocotillo (fouquieria splendens).

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We met other walkers who had seen bighorn sheep up on the rocky sides of the mountains but we didn’t see them.  (Borrego is the Spanish word for these sheep).

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Our destination is a grove of Californian Palms (washingtonia filifera), fed by spring water.

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The palms can grow up to 20 to 25 metres (60 to 80 feet).

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Heading back.  An ocotillo in a barren landscape.

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Borrego Palm Canyon, Desert, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Salton Sea, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Desert cacti, perhaps clavellina cholla.

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA California USA, 1 October 2016

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The previous post was at the Pavilion for Japanese Art at LACMA; this is from our viewing of the rest of the Art Museum.  (Click images for larger size).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Royal Peacock Barge, West Bengal, India, late 19th century.

Miniature ivory depiction of pleasure boat of the Nawab of Bengal.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

This is a very modern installation, dated to just before the time we were visiting.  It is perhaps somewhere between pop art, dada and surrealism.  The artist is not credited.

The assemblage is somewhat anachronistic amongst historical exhibits but does include some references to 19th century Indian works.  It is perhaps intended to depict the sense of wonder at the extent to which modern art styles can sometimes diverge from the traditional.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Panel, Gururat, India, early 18th century.

Wood applique with bone; brass roundels.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Altar cabinet, Kham region, eastern Tibet, 19th – 20th century.

Wood with mineral pigments and gilding; brass fittings.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Hindu God Vishnu, Angkor, Cambodia. c. 950AD (sandstone).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Folio from a Buddhist manuscript illustrated with Buddha’s birth stories (Thailand c. 1860-80), atop Sutra Box (Thailand 1920-40, wood laquer and gold leaf).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Buddha Shakyamuni, Sukothai, Thailand, 14th-15th century (copper alloy).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Maharishi (Great Sage) Agastya, Lakhi Sarai, Bihar, India, 12th century (chloritoid phyllite).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Dancer’s headpiece in the form of Hindu Godess Kali, Kerala, India, late 15th century (wood with paint).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

The Goddess Sarasvati, Gujurat, India, 1153 by Jagadeva.

Sarasvati, goddess of wisdom and knowledge, embodies the mediæval Indian concept of feminine beauty.  Jagadeva was commisioned to create this sculpture to replace an earlier sculpture of Sarasvati that was dedicated in a Jain temple in 1069 but damaged in 1152.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

The Hindu Goddess Kali, Kerala, India, 17th century (wood with traces of paint).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Athena, 2nd century Roman copy of Greek original from the late 5th century BC School of Pheidas.

Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom and of war waged for just causes.  She wears a breastplate decorated with the heads of gorgons, the monsters whose piercing gaze turned people who met their eyes to stone.  The hollow eye sockets indicate that eyes were originally inlaid and of course, as with all ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, she would originally have been painted in bright colours.  The statue was excavated at Ostia, the port of Rome, in 1797.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Portrait of Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519-1574), c. 1572 by Giovanni Bandini (also called Giovanni dell’Opera) (marble).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Madonna and child in a landscape c. 1496-1499 by Cima de Conegliano (Oil on panel).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Saint Crispin (France, c. 1500 (limestone with traces of polychromy).

Saint Crispan is the patron saint of shoe makers.  He and his brother Saint Crispian were tortured for their Christian beliefs and beheaded in 285AD.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

The Swineherd, 1888, by Paul Gauguin (oi; on canvas).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

La Place du Théâtre Français, 1898, by Camille Pissaro (oil on canvas).

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Le Havre, bâteaux de peche sortant du port (fishing boats leaving the port), 1874, Claude Monet.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Cabinet, c. 1650-75, from Grand Ducal Workshops (Galleria dei Lavori), (ebony, marble, jasper, lapis lazuli and various hard stones, and bronze with gilding).

The birds and flowers that appear to be painted are actually hundreds of pieces of richly hued pietre dure or hard stones, so the designs are laboriously painted in stone.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Eagle-headed demon ritually expelling sickness and evil spirits from the house, possible purifying anyone entering the King’s living room.

This and following reliefs once adorned the interior walls of the palace of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (reigned 883-859 BC).  They are from ancient Kalhu (now called Nimrud).  He was the first Assyrian king to use stone panels on the interior wall of his palace which was built in mud brick on a stone foundation.  The reliefs were originally painted in black, white, red and blue.

In 879 BC Ashurnasirpal held a large festival to celebrate the construction of his new capital which remained the centre of the Assyrian Empire for 150 years.  It was surrounded by a massive city wall forty-two feet high (thirteen metres) and five miles long (eight kilometres).  At that time it bordered on the Tigris River.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

A winged human-headed genie wearing a double bull horn mitre that may be a supernatural projection of the king.

He holds a conical fruit that he has presumably dipped in the bucket of pollen held in preparation for fertilisation of the Tree of Life, an important symbol in Assyrian religious belief.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

The king holds a libation bowl and a bow, and he is accompanied by a human-headed genie carrying a bucket.  Both are engaged in ritual ceremony.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Fragment of a painted Assyrian relief, Neo-Assyrian dynasty, Northern Iraq, 7th century BC (limestone).

It probably depicts King Sargon (reigned 722-705 BC) and still shows traces of the colourful paint that once adorned all Assyrian reliefs.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

Head of a Royal Guard from Persepolis, Achæmenid period, Southern Iran, 5th century BC (limestone).

This fragment once belonged to the inner decorated panel of the eastern staircase of the Apadana, the sumptuous audience hall of the Achæmenid kings at Persepolis.

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Art, Cabinets, History, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Travel

20th century sculpture but I missed the label.  Giacometti maybe?

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Netsuke Gallery, LACMA

Netsuke Gallery, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA California USA, 1 October 2016

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Close by La Brea Tar Pits, we next visited the Pavillion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (ACMNA).

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

Haniwa Horse from 6th century.

Haniwa are terracotta clay figures buried with the dead as funerary objects.  They are from the Kofun period of 3rd to 6th century AD, when horses were first domesticated in Japan and this would have been from the grave of an important person, probably in Southern Honshu.

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

Chest of drawers from the 18th century.  Lacquer over wood with gold and silver flakes.

It is decorated with several views around Lake Biwa and was made for the lord of Hikone Castle.

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

Jar from Kamakura period, c. 1200-1400AD.

Tokoname ware; coil-built stoneware with ash glaze.

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

Female Shinto deity, 14th century.

Due to a close association of Shinto with the Imperial Court, such figures were shown in court robes as real people and were kept in close shrines, not viewable by devotees.

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

Sake bottles, 17th to 19th centuries.

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

Contemporary vessel by Shimizu Ichiji, 2012.

Stoneware with sprayed slip decoration.

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

(No description.  I didn’t photograph the label).

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

Daruma by Torei Enji, hanging scroll, ink on silk, 18th century.

Daruma was the semi-legendary Zen Master who brought Zen from China to Japan in the early 6th century.  Torei Enji was himself an eminent Zen Master who wrote a description of Zen practice, still read today, entitled “The undying Lamp of Zen”.

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

Kanzan and Jittoku by Shunso Shoju, ink on paper, late 18th or early 19th century.

Kanzan and Jittoku were enlightened people who lived on Cold Mountain (Hanshan) in China in about the 9th century and they are symbolically represented in this drawing.  Here is a poem by Kanzan (or Hanshan to the Chinese):

Men ask the way through the clouds,

The cloud’s way dark, without a sign.

High summits are of naked rock.

In deep valleys sun never shines.

Behind you green peaks, and in front,

To east the white clouds, and to west –

Want to know where the cloud way lies?

It’s there, in the centre of the Void!

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

(No description.  I didn’t photograph the label).

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

This is the first of the netsuke.  Three others follow.  They are unique to Japan and because kimono had no pockets.  Instead, the Japanese used inro or segmented hanging boxes.  They were on a cord which went through the netsuke and attached to the obi or kimono sash.  The netsuke prevented the inro and cord slipping out from beneath the obi.

They needed to be light and small yet strong and support a hole through them so they are masterpieces of miniature design.

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel .

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Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel .

Art, History, Japan, LACMA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Netsuke, Photography, Travel

European archer, 18th century.

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La Brea Tar Pits

Los Angeles, California USA, 29 September 2016

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

I had long been interested in visiting the La Brea Tar Pits.  It’s a place where oil oozes to the surface and forms asphalt.  This in turn becomes covered with water and leaves.  Animals wander in and become trapped and then predators come and they are trapped too.  This has been happening for up to 38,000 years and still happens to some extent today although the areas are now fenced off.  The bodies of the trapped animals are preserved in the asphalt.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

This is Harlan’s Ground Sloth ((Glossotherium Harlani).  It was a little under two metres tall and 700 kilos in weight.  The largest giant sloth was six metres long (including the tail) and weighed four tonnes.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Antique Bison (Bison Antiquus).  It had a larger body, larger hump and larger horns than the surviving species.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

On the left and centre, American Mastadon (Mammut Americanus).  They had shorter legs, a longer body and tusks up to five metres long, as compared to modern elephants (not close relatives).  On the right is an extinct camel, Camelus Hesternus, a bit larger than modern camels and probably with one hump.  Camels evolved in the Americas and this species was likely exterminated by the arrival of humans.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Colombian Mammoth (Mammathus Columbi), up to four metres tall and ten tonnes in weight.  Tusks could be up to five metres long.  It is not clear to what extent climate change or human hunting was responsible for their extinction.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel .

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Large Game of Thrones puppy, or alternatively, Dire Wolf (Canis Dirus).  It was probably a little larger than the largest wolves today but had stronger jaws and bite.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Big Pussycat or Naegele’s Giant Jaguar (Panthera Atrox), also known as the American Lion.  It was larger than both a Siberian tiger and a Sabre-Toothed Cat.  There is some doubt as to whether it was closer to today’s lions or jaguars.  Jaguars, though, have one of the strongest bites of all animals behind only some crocodiles and hippos, stronger than tigers, so if it was more like a jaguar it wold have had a fearsome bite.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

Sabre-toothed Cat (Smilodon Fatalis), about the same size as a African lion but much more heavily built.  It was an ambush predator and died out due to climate change.

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Archaeology, History, La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, Photography, Travel

An exposed section of tar pit.

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Jamaica to USA

Jamaica and USA, 22 September 2016

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This is from a flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica to Charleston, South Carolina.  A later flight to Los Angeles was at night and I didn’t take any photographs on that one.

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA

Houses at the water’s edge near the airport in Montego Bay.

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA

A couple of hours above the Florida coast.  West Palm Beach maybe.

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA

All the cloud shots are not far apart.

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA .

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA .

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA .

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA

Approaching Charleston.

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA

America – the land of individuality?

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Aerial Photography, Clouds, Jamaica, Landscape, Nature, Photography, seascape, Travel, USA

Charleston in the distance.

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When we got to Charleston, we had to wait for maybe hours in a long security queue while the time to catch the next flight faded away.  A German couple near us tried to jump the queue to where some friends of theirs were, but they were seen by officials and sent to the very last place in the line.

When I got to LA and picked up a rental car near the airport, I had to return to get the rental company to show me how to get the drivers seat back up.  I had found a control to recline it but had gone too far and that control didn’t put it back up(!).  There was a different control in a different location for that.

Then when I got onto the crowded freeway (at night) I found that the side mirrors were electronic and I couldn’t tell how far away other cars were.  That made changing lanes quite freaky.  Still, we got where we needed to go without incident.

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I also spent a fair amount of time this week dealing with corrupted images and backups. When I came to start considering my California images for processing, I found I had 300 corrupted and unusable images.  My backup to the Cloud is supposed to go back to 2017 when I started Cloud backup but the relevant backup only went back to May which must be when I had a motherboard change.  My local backup to a Drobo was no good because only have enough space to retain recent backups.  But I do have an old backup to disk from 2017.  At first that seemed inaccessible but I eventually retrieved the files I needed from it.  This just goes to show the value of the old adage that you should always have three separate backups.

Jamaica Monochromes

26 to 30 September 2016, Jamaica.

Links go to colour posts (for more information and context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

Click on any image to see it larger.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Arriving at Treasure Beach.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Appleton Rum Refinery.

Treasure Beach.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Early rum still.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Treasure Beach.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife .

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Sunrise at Treasure Beach.

Black River.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

From Treasure Beach to Black River.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Floyd’s Pelican Bar.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Undermined house at mouth of Black River.  Notice the front stairs as well as the angle of the house.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Passing boat.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Passing canoe.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Black River.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Crocodile.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Captain Ted, our skipper.

Floyd’s Pelican Bar

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Floyd’s Pelican Bar.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Continuing on…

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Treasure Beach.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

South West Coast.

Treasure Beach to Montego Bay

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Roadside refreshments and shells.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Yellow-faced Grasquit, female or immature male.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Jamaican Mango.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Bananaquit.

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Architecture, Black and White, History, Jamaica, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

The red-billed streamertail (Trochilus polytmus), also known as the doctor bird, scissor-tail or scissors tail hummingbird, the national bird of Jamaica.

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