Back to JTNP

Just before Christmas I made another trip up to Joshua Tree National Park. As is my normal custom, I arrived nearly an hour before sunrise, giving me time to scout around for a suitable composition. As the sky started to lighten, I found a composition I liked, featuring Joshua Trees silhouetted against the sky. I never get tired of the endless shapes of Joshua Trees: every one is different. Soon I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise lighting up the sky.

It was a cool, crisp morning, so the warmth of the sun as it rose above the horizon was welcomed. As it rose higher in the sky, the sun kissed this Joshua Tree with its warm glow.

After enjoying the beauty of the start to another day, I set off to do a little exploring. One thing that is always fun is looking for shapes in the rock formations that remind you of something. This morning I found two. The first looks like a dog, the second looks like a sliced loaf of bread.

Occasionally you come across old mining equipment or vehicles that have been left for eternity in the desert. This old truck definitely needs some TLC!

On my little hike, I stopped at the ruins of an old house. I believe the house at one time belonged Worth Bagley, a neighbor to Bill Keys. It would be an understatement to say that the two men did not get along! The animosity escalated when Bagley blocked the road access that Keys used to get to his Wall Street Mill, claiming that the road ran across his land. Keys refused to accept that he had no right to use the road and the whole thing came to a head in mid-1943 with a gunfight. After shooting Bagley dead, Keys turned himself in, claiming he had shot Bagley in self defense and that Bagley had shot at him first. After what many hold was a somewhat rigged trial, Keys was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in San Quentin Prison. Earlier in his life, Keys had made the acquaintance of a lawyer by the name of Earl Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason. When Gardner heard of Keys imprisonment he championed the case for his parole. Eventually he convinced the courts that Keys had been wrongfully convicted. Bill Keys was given a full parole and freed from prison in 1948.

The window in the ruins of Bagley’s old house nicely frames this Joshua Tree and the pile of boulders beyond it.

I concluded my visit with this beautiful view of Mt. San Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California. While it may be warm down in the desert, the peak is usually capped with snow during the winter months.

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