TWENTY-NINE PALMS WEEKEND
By Bob Jacoby and Nan Savage
Those joining in on the trip to 29 Palms were: Leonard Friedman, Bob Younger and Mary Whalen, Richard Shapel, Don Sweinhart and Betty Wallin, Mal and Jean Roode, Joe de Kehoe, Glenn Shaw, Nan Savage, Bob Jacoby and Dick Brazier. Some of us got into town Friday evening and had dinner together at the 29 Palms Inn, a restaurant and hotel present in the area for some eighty years. Saturday saw us on the road, meeting first at the Oliver’s property then up the road at an alternative meeting point in 29 Palms. Our first stop on dirt was an interesting once-thriving bakery, now abandoned and dilapidated. The site’s unique feature is a cement wall that had been constructed by hand with reinforcement with what was most available, in this case, an old metal set of mattress springs!
After passing by the “informal” dump for the area (the official dump is located 20 miles away in Yucca Valley), we continued past some mine tailings. Three cement colonnades on the hillside above us reminded us of a Greek temple. We then visited the Goat Basin Mine, got out and explored. It consists of a large hole that appears to be connected via an underground vein to a digging in the side of the mountain nearby. Bob Oliver suggested we take a side road up to a cabin he knows, and led the way. As we drove along, we were treated to beautiful unspoiled scenery on all sides. Eventually the road began to deteriorate, so Bob Oliver decided to go ahead to check it out. When he returned, he reported that he had gotten high centered, but had managed to disengage himself. Stopping soon for lunch, Joe de Kehoe set out to investigate the area. He returned with a treasure, a dried out desert tortoise shell, blanched white from the sun. We then headed back into town, stopping at the Old School House Museum, which is the local historical museum for 29 Palms. There we saw a particularly striking display of antique purple glass exhibited to best advantage in a window case where the sun light highlighted the purple tinge exquisitely. Most of the pieces were intact and in superior condition. I noticed that all were of pressed as opposed to cut glass. Cut glass is carved by hand while pressed glass is molded from a liquid. Desert purple glass is invariably pressed glass, because, the museum explained, only pressed glass survives the hot desert sun long enough to turn purple. Cut glass shatters in the sun’s intense rays long before it changes hue. The museum also had a number of books for sale on the region, including Joe de Kehoe’s own book, The Sun and the Silence. Several of the group purchased his book, and he obliged them with autographs. At this point the Saturday trip officially ended. While some headed back into town to relax, others went on to look around the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor’s Center. Here we saw excellent displays describing the desert climate, comparing Joshua Tree to other deserts around the world. A desert, I learned, is a region that receives less than 10 inches of rainfall in a year – that includes Antarctica. We asked the ranger to turn on a video of the National Park for us. Then we took the nature walk through the “Oasis of Mara,” a natural oasis of palm trees native to the area originally irrigated by natural springs. Returning to Bob Oliver’s, we enjoyed a fine potluck of homemade spaghetti and “Missoura” beans.
Twenty Nine Palms Weekend, Part II
By Bob Jacoby
The second half of the 29 Palms weekend proved to be an action packed and interesting day. We started off the day at the Oliver’s spread with the following cast of characters: Leonard Friedman, Bob Younger and Mary Whalen, Mal and Jean Roode, Joe de Kehoe, Glen Shaw, Bob Jacoby and Dick Brazier. The day got off to an interesting start as Bob Oliver led us on dirt roads out of his property to the Coyote Hole Canyon area west of Joshua Tree. (It’s always a good day when the first two hours of a trip are experienced with zero pavement!) Coyote Hole Canyon proved to be an outstanding destination. Coyote Hole is a privately held area, but is an outstanding petro glyph site. This is true even though many of the original petro glyphs have been destroyed. The canyon is an interesting combination of gully and canyon and served as an important watering hole for the local Indians many years ago. The area is adjacent to Joshua Tree National Monument and perhaps some day it will become part of the park. With the permission of the owners, thanks to Bob Oliver, we were able to explore the length of the canyon. Fortunately, many of the petro glyphs are in high, inaccessible places thereby providing some additional protection. The canyon is just a beautiful place to picnic or to go for a secluded hike . After spending a high quality hour or two in Coyote Hole the group headed out for the National Park itself. The goal was the Berdoo Canyon Road. Unfortunately, this necessitated some travel on paved roads until we hit the dirt Geology Road inside the Park. Even though the Geology Road is quite easy, it is an incredibly scenic trip showcasing large piles of granite boulders, beautiful cactus gardens and occasional California Junipers. We stayed on the Geology Road for several miles until we came to the intersection with the significantly more challenging Berdoo Canyon Road. The Berdoo Canyon Road travels through the picturesque Pleasant Valley toward the Little San Bernardino Mountains, gradually ascending the bajada to enter the mouth of Berdoo Canyon where the road does get a bit challenging. The group was starting to get hungry as we entered Berdoo Canyon so we found a wide spot in the road and enjoyed lunch before we headed down canyon. As we were enjoying our food an all wheel drive Element came by, not looking any too sturdy. We had passed this guy earlier and warned him not to proceed, but there he was going right by us. Someone jocked that we would be rescuing him. Little did we know that that would come true quite soon. As we finished lunch and entered the most difficult part of the canyon, there was our friend stuck on a steep rocky area. To the rescue was Joe de Kehoe who was able to winch him out. We advised him to turn around and head back which he finally agreed to do. We continued on down Berdoo Canyon and passed the site of Berdoo Camp which was part of the Colorado River Aqueduct construction project in the 1930’s. The only thing remaining from this construction camp site are a few concrete shells. We soon hit Dillon Road in the Desert Hot Springs where said our goodbyes and headed home. It was a great weekend with good camaraderie and some interesting places to explore. We especially want to thank Bob Oliver for his hospitality.