Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees

Shaun over at the Mojave Desert Blog posted a thought provoking article the other day
entitled "Mojave Desert Future on the table", you can read it here:

His post got me to thinking immediately about the danger presented to the Mojave
National Preserve and I went to the BLM Geocommunicator site and created an energy
map centered on Kelso Depot, and put in data such as proposed energy corridors, potential solar and wind, transmission lines, etc. and came up with this map which I will show enlarged here:

The big green area in the middle is the MNP, Kelso is right in the middle. Stateline is at the top right, that is where both Ivanpah solar projects as well as the airport will be built if given the go ahead. I-40 runs left to right along the bottom boundary of the preserve, and Route 66 runs below that, left to right as well, when it doesn't run with I-40.

As you can see, the preserve is surrounded, nearly on all sides, as I posted in my comment to Shaun's post.

I confess, that sometimes I am not objective when I ponder the preserve and my judgement is cloudy
sometimes...and I can't see the forest for the trees! 

Now it's clear to see, after thinking about it, that the preserve and the rest of the Mojave desert are,
one and the same, one needs the other, what affects one has big effects on the other, that's
just the way it is.

Perhaps where you live, a fight is brewing over development in a scenic or wilderness area- maybe
someone wants to put a road through, or build giant windmills, or bulldoze land to put in a massive
solar farm. Understand going in, just like Shaun mentioned in his post, that they cry " it's a jobs bill"
or "don't let desert tortoises stop progress" or "it's only useless desert land"etc. Before you decide
to ignore it and go back to your tv show, golf game,whatever, how about taking a drive out if the area is close. Take a camera. Snap some shots. Face the breeze, take in the sights, sounds, smells, look 
around.... what will it look like a couple years from now if the development is allowedwhat will that
do to the area and people's enjoyment of it, and then think about yourself and if you care and if you
think that one person working with others, can make a difference.

I hope all is going well for everyone, hope you enjoyed the visit, and please tell a friend to drop in also
here on the backporch. I'll make sure I have extra coffee on hand, but it may be "cowboy coffee".

Vaya con dios, my friends.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Found a couple of good home solar blogs

And these have lots of pictures and lots of information.

First is a family blog detailing the construction and power output of their system.
You can even see the house on Google Earth. There is also a company site you
can surf to and see how much power output is being generated at the house and
others worldwide.

The info is at this link:

Next is the solar blog from a magazine name I'm sure you'll recognize. Lots of
solar information and photos plus links to other magazine articles are here:

One fascinating(at least to me) article at the Scientific site mentioned new solar pv
panels are now being sold which have the inverter built in, which should allow a
seamless and very easy tie-in to the power grid, simplifying the whole process from
getting the utilities to go along to getting permits from local government agencies.
And you know if other companies and countries licensed and used this technology,
the price would surely drop!

I'm really excited about these latest developments and think this is the right way to try to
reach our goal of energy independence. Check it out! Don't listen to all the nay-sayers, the
sun has shined for billions of years, and will keep doing so many billions of years more, we're
going to keep living in buildings with roofs, why not get it direct from the source- instead of
second-hand via fossil fuels?

And you know something, if you have one of these on your roof, and got a few days of
shade or rain, you'd buy some back from the grid, or just cut off some of your un-needed
appliances and phantom loads, and you'd be a-okay.

Take care, enjoy your day, look forward to chatting again soon here on the backporch.

Vaya con dios, my friends.


Distributed generation- Senator Bernie Sanders and his most excellent idea!

The senator just released this proposed bill called "10 Million Solar Roofs and 10 Million Gallons
of Solar Water Act of 2010". It is all of 9 pages long, appears to be double or triple spaced and
you don't have to have a legal dictionary on hand to read and understand it. Truly revolutionary!
I will link to it below as well as provide links for other info.

According to the bill, if only 10% of rooftops in the USA had photovoltaic systems in place, they would meet 70% of the PEAK energy demand of the whole United States! That is huge! And doing so without
needing to build more transmission lines or major infrastructure way out, hundreds of miles away on
wilderness and wild areas. This would be accomplished by using tax incentives, etc to encourage 10 million homes, businesses, government buildings to be fitted with solar pv systems over a 10 year period, resulting
in an increased electrical generating capacity of at least 30,000 Megawatts.

Also an additional 200,000 solar hot water systems would be installed resulting in a 10 million gallon
to be installed over a similiar period, a plan like Hawaii's which is projected to save homeowners $600 a

This plan is based on rebates like the ones currently in use in California, Hawaii, and New Jersey. Due to
economies of scale, this has resulted in cost decreases for the solar systems. Just imagine what building
millions of new pv systems would do to the per unit costs! Also note, China has lowered costs
on pv systems they build and other countries will have to follow suit.

There is other technology out there, proven systems, where the suns energy is concentrated through fresnel lenses etc, resulting in the need for less silicon to be used, and prices for this have dropped dramatically
over time. The article with that information will be the bottom one on the list.

I'm no expert but it seems like the Obama and governator administrations are jumping the gun, rushing madly to spend billions of OBAMA BUCKS to scrape the unspoiled desert down to the bedrock and suck out all the desert aquifer water, to build giant solar and wind plants way out
in the middle of nowhere and building new transmission infrastructure, guaranteed to lose 10-25%
of the power in losses to bring said power back to the cities------
you catch my drift I think.

So we are at a crossroads here, we can spend billions for huge power plants and it's infrastructure or
we can spend the money empowering local people to generate their own electricity, the unused portion
of which they can sell back to the power utility! Plus, it has been proven that people using
home power generation use less, gaining some self discipline which some believe is desperately
needed here in these United States.

I think with economies of scale factored in and this is my opinion only, we'd spend fewer billions with
Senator Sanders approach.

Here are the links I promised: 

The last link has the great info and photos of the new pv technology.

Okay folks, I'm going to have to go to the store for more coffee, you guys drank it all up.
When I get back, I'll see if we can't find something else to yack about. Remember your
comments are always welcomed out on the backporch.

Vaya con dios, my friends.


This GEM found while doing research for my next post!

 While researching this morning, I came across this video and though it will seem unrelated,
and it is, using my power and authority, I am making one of my alltime favorite Beatle
songs available for your viewing pleasure here on the backporch! And it is from the legendary
Apple Building rooftop concert! I didn't even know this video footage existed until this

very morning. I just have to share it.

In addition to this great song, here is another
of my favorite all-time Beatle's songs-

You know doing blog research is a tough
job but somebody's got to do it!

Enjoy! Vaya con dios my friends.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Mojave is large enough for preserves and solar power production"

Good morning, come on in, lets head out to the backporch.

Today I have an op-ed piece originally published online 12/2009 at the Center for Biological
Diversity's website written by Kieran Suckling, a co-founder of the organization and now executive
director. They are, and he is, well known throughout the world for their work in preserving endangered
species and wilderness. I have been given perrmission by the group to republish this thoughtful essay
from a year ago which is so apropos now considering the latest developments. The blog post title is
his title for his essay, the link will be given below. I strongly recommend checking out their website
and consider a donation if possible.

Here is the essay:

"September 10, 2009
Mojave is large enough for preserves and solar power production

By KierĂ¡n Suckling

Senator Feinstein is right to propose two new national monuments in the Mojave Desert to protect them from intensive energy development and other incursions. Connecting Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve, Feinstein’s proposal will create one of the world’s great nature reserves. It is a natural outgrowth of the sweeping California Desert Protection Act the senator authored in 1994. She should be congratulated for continuing to be a champion of California’s desert heritage.

Conservationists have long viewed the gap between Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave National Preserve as a potential disaster and tremendous opportunity. If these lands are degraded — or worse, turned into tract homes — the national park will be cut off from the preserve. Wildlife that already have to manage getting over or under Interstate 40 cannot simultaneously negotiate a sea of houses, small roads, or industrial-scale solar energy facilities.

If the lands were consolidated and protected, however, wildlife, endangered species, and recreationists would be able to freely traverse some 3 million acres of connected habitat. Encompassing 3 million acres of Joshua-tree-covered mountains, hidden streams, sublime desert valleys, and endangered species including the desert tortoise and desert bighorn sheep, the newly connected landscape would be one of the largest and most important preserves in the country.

With the grand idea in mind, the Wildlands Conservancy spent $40 million in private funds and leveraged $18 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase and donate more than 600,000 acres to the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. It was the largest charitable land gift in U.S. history.

The landscape was saved — at least, until the Bush administration ordered the Bureau of Land Management to expedite development of these donated lands for energy development. The agency is currently processing 130 applications for solar and wind energy development on more than a million acres of the Mojave, including many on or adjacent to the donated lands.

To honor the intent of the Wildlands Conservancy gift, Feinstein asked Obama’s new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, to suspend energy development on the gifted lands. Inexplicably, Salazar refused, so Feinstein is developing legislation to protect these lands from large-scale development by establishing two national monuments that will connect Joshua Tree to the Mojave Preserve.

Critics complain that developing these lands for wind and solar energy is more important than protecting them. But the Bureau of Land Management owns tens of millions of acres in Southern California, while the California Energy Commission estimates that just 100,000 to 160,000 acres of desert lands are needed to meet 33 percent of the state’s 2020 renewable energy goal. Surely alternative energy development can be funneled onto 50,000 to 100,000 acres of degraded public land and another 50,000 acres of leasable private lands without trashing a world-class wildlife preserve.

There is simply no conflict between protecting the Wildlands Conservancy donation, establishing a new world-class preserve, and rapidly increasing wind and solar energy development in the desert. The Center for Biological Diversity has mapped out BLM lands that would be suitable for solar and wind energy development. By overlaying essential lands such as preserves, wilderness, roadless areas, wildlife corridors, critical habitat areas, and endangered species recovery zones onto detailed, on-the-ground knowledge of lands degraded by past agriculture, isolated by roads and housing developments, compromised by adjacency to highways, etc., the Center has developed an initial estimate of where alternative energy develop should be sited.

The good news is that we can likely go beyond the California Energy Commission’s goal of producing a third of the state’s renewable energy goal from desert solar and wind power by 2020. And we don’t have to trash our pristine landscapes while doing so.

We urge Senator Feinstein to proceed with her monument proposals and ensure they are protected from all forms of abuse, not just energy development. After all, roads, off-road-vehicles, cows, and mines have done more damage to the Mojave Desert than solar and wind power. We urge the Bureau of Land Management to stop playing catch-up with energy speculator permit applications and take a leadership role by clearly determining in advance where energy development should and should not go.

The stars are aligned. We have a sympathetic Congress, a powerful congressional leader, an informed president, alternative energy entrepreneurs waiting for direction, and conservationists with a lifetime of desert knowledge. Now is the time to act."

This truly is the right mindset and the right methodology for the times. Having driven all over southern
California in the 32 years I have lived here, I know for a fact that there is ample junk land available
for renewable energy development. So why the mad rush? Why the manufactured hype? Is another
bubble being inflated as I write this and you read it? Is that all America is good for now, creating hype
and bubbles to cut, dice, repackage and sell around the world as RENEWABLE ENERGY BACKED

Once again I'd like to thank the Center for Biological Diversity for allowing this important essay to be
republished at truly an opportune time for the Mojave desert and the Mojave National Preserve.

Here is the link to their site:


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Obama Bucks for BrightSource Ivanpah Project!

Here are links to the story:
In a nutshell, the feds will guarantee about $1,400,000,000.00 for the construction of the project.
Actually you and me are guaranteeing the project, the taxpayers.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu along
with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are sitting up there in DC, Obama's henchmen, one guy looks
at blank spots on a map out in the desert, and the other opens the checkbook, and voila! the
money starts flowing, filtered through the big Wall Street investment banks, and through the giant
corporations like Bechtel with help from pols like Harry Reid in the Senate, and then the bulldozers
and earth movers start up and like the song goes"they paved paradise and put up a parking lot"!

The next two photos are from a hilltop and show a panorama. This area will show 3 gigantic mirror fields planted on packed down, scraped earth
in about 3 years or so if this project doesn't get stopped.

I have just received the latest
BrightSource Project papers
related to biological mitigation
and will look through these in
the next day or so and of course
will do a followup post on that.
Many, many thanks to a friend
of this blog who sent me this, I
feel that I can't give a name, but
let me just say that this person
has forgotten more about this
area and about the danger to
our beloved Mojave desert than
I'll ever know and I am very grateful!

People, we are just ants, bugs, of no consequence to the policy makers, politicians, the bureaucrats,
the big money bankers and corporate types that revel in these type of deals. As far as I see it, and I
believe they do too, the only thing really stopping this now is about 25 or so desert tortoises--thank
God they have strong shells with all the heavy lifting they are having to do right now.

Can we help them out a little? Can we carry some of their load? Martin said you can't ride a man's back
if he stands up- you think maybe it's time we stood up? No to destroying the beautiful Mojave
just so we can run our big screens! 

Sorry for the rant, that's very rude of me, shouting at my guests here on the backporch. Please forgive
me. I'm just a tired bus driver, I'm not a lobbyist, don't know any congressmen, but I can read, I know
that just tossing money at a problem, using the same old system, nothing's going to change. Taking
a hundred year old business model, top down, command control approach--- use buzz words like
green energy, synergy,schminergy, whatever. God this really p----es me off!

Bottom line here folks. Back home in Georgia, an old friend of mine, Mr. Roscoe Campbell, used to
tell me this" Sonny boy, you know what you get when you put ear rings on a hog? You get a hog with
ear rings!" That's it. If this BrightSource deal goes through, you and I, the taxpayers just bought
here's another old country saying, "a pig in a poke!"

By the way, did you see in the article where BrightSource refused to say what the project will
cost? Man, that's a page right out of the Wall Street playbook- amazing. They really must think that
we fell off the turnip wagon yesterday. FLASH FROM THE NEWSROOM- REMEMBER

I could continue in this vein, dear readers and friends, but you know my old granny used to warn
me that if I didn't have anything good to say, to keep my mouth shut so I will.

Thanks to those of you that have read this far, I appreciate it.

And many, many thanks for those of you that have taken the time to comment. It's an important
part of this new social medium, commenting, and it let's the writer and readers both get involved.
And this is your fight as well. If you have a favorite place, a wilderness perhaps, anyplace, if it's
on government land it may be in danger. To paraphrase Edward Abbey from "Desert Solitaire"
you don't have to go to the wilderness for it to be important to you and your fellow humans.
Just by being there, it is important for the human race. We really need to know this, just as we
know the sun rises in the east- deep down in your very soul- you need to understand this.

Go out and buy that book. Buy it at your local book store or click on a blogger's link and buy it.
If you read only one book this year, read "Desert Solitaire". I know you're thinking it's some sort
of wacky environmentalist drivel- once you start reading it, you won't be able to put it down.
I can, because I'm reading it slowly, savoring the word images, seeing in my mind's eye the small
trailer parked out by the red buttes and mesas and arches, feeling the cold wind coming through
the eaves, hearing the coyotes howling, laughing---

And after you read the book, next time you hear about some mega project out in the desert or
in a mountain pass, or out in the ocean off shore, you might feel a little different about things.
You just might.

Well it's that time my friends to put away the coffee cups and glasses, vaya con dios, amigos.
I hope you will come back again and I truly hope, however you feel, that you feel you can write
about it here.


Any proceeds from any sales of this book will be donated to a desert related
 charitable or public interest group that I feel is working for desert issues, if bought
through my site.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Your comments really make my day! Recuerdos! Recuerdos!

I'm sitting here reveling in my memories of my time at my Morongo Valley home,
in particular the one when my girlfriend found the round stone "mano" which must
have been used to grind up the mesquite pods from the nearby tree, a photo of which
is in my last post.

I never would have remembered this, but not for a comment from one of my readers.
Reveling, really. You know I had some real good times there all alone at the end of the
dirt road, and there were lonely times as well being about 100 miles from my long time
stomping grounds- the OC or Orange County. I can't help it, I'm being flooded with
memories right now, let me talk about a couple here on the backporch. Hey, do me a favor,
pour us a cup of joe and come on out here!

Here are two of my favorite memories, both regarding the swamp cooler. For those of you,
perhaps in Europe or on the east coast, a swamp cooler is an evaporative cooler- mine
had water trickling down over aspen pads which enclosed a big round wheel or drum,
which rotated blowing air over the pads. Man, on real dry days it'd freeze you.

One time in the summer it was about 110 degrees F outside, and all of a sudden, my swamp
cooler quit blowing cool air! I had to go out, troubleshoot the system, and attempt a repair.
Turned out, it was an easy fix, the pickup line in the water reservoir had clogged up, but being
no expert, it took me the better part of an hour to get it fixed as I had to study it first, etc.

Another time, on a very hot day, I smelled this horrible odor in the front part of my house, and I
couldn't figure out what it was. Unfortunately for me, I never finished unpacking when I moved in,
and there were a lot of boxes lining the living room wall  near the swamp cooler. I starting digging
through all the boxes, one at a time, looking for a dead packrat or something. As I finished at the box
sitting there below the swamp cooler, as I stood up, I saw a snake head staring at me from within
the cooler vents! I almost jumped straight up through the ceiling! Evidently, he crawled in smelling water
and tried to crawl through after drinking his fill, and then got decapitated by the spinning fan drum.

About an hour later, I was back in the cooling business. I had to remove the carcass and then sterilize
the cooler's insides with bleach water, in about 100 degree F weather! I'll never forget that snake looking
at me, whew!

Below is a photo of an aged cactus that I bought from a Yucca Valley nursery and brought to its'
new home. I call him "Senor Nopal". My girlfriend and I were so inspired by the successfull
transplanting that we went to Joshua Tree and bought several spineless nopales and planted
them out beyond the greenhouse, and then to our dismay, discovered that the jackrabbits,
cotton-tails, and other various and sorted creatures gnawed them down to the ground! Senor
Nopal never suffered that fate, he had some very impressive spikes as you can see above.

Another memory I have was the time I ordered a cord of firewood to be delivered while I was
out working.They told me to put the check under my doormat. I asked if the delivery man would
stack the firewood for me, sure, no problem. Man, when I got home I discovered a huge pile of wood
which looked like it was thrown off the back of a truck. I was mad as a wet hen, and what a backache!
After picking up and stacking a whole cord of firewood, this rube learned his lesson!

Anyway that's about it here on the backporch, look forward to our next visit and remember,
vaya con dios, my friends and as usual, your comments are welcomed here.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tree of life, the mesquite

I was perusing back issues of High Country News and came across an interesting
story about a man who farms the mesquite tree in Arizona. He originally planned
to grow jojoba but decided the winters were too tough on the plant. After a "Isaac
Newton" moment, he decided on the mesquite tree for his 9 acres. The link will be
the bottom of this post.

Until recently, all I knew about mesquite was that it made good charcoal. I knew
nothing about it nourishing desert dwellers for thousands of years, or being used for
medicine, even coyotes eat the seed pods!

On a personal note, and this is hard to admit, I actually had a mesquite tree on my
Morongo Valley property and thought if it ever got in bad shape, I'd cut it down
and use the wood for my grill- how ignorant!
Here is the link to the article:

Here is a link to the multimedia content for the article, 25 meg download:

A link to a wikipedia article:

Well my friends, vaya con dios, hope you enjoyed your visit to the
backporch and I look forward to seeing you again. Your comments
are welcome as always.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Suggested route change for your next Vegas trip.

Years ago in a previous life, I was a field service technician for a chemical company. Part
of my territory was Las Vegas, Nevada and I made the run to and from about once every
five or six weeks. To be honest, when I first started, I was the typical southern Californian
barrelling across the Mojave on I-15 about 75 miles per hour,windows up, air conditioner
and radio cranking, in a major hurry. Gotta get there, rapido!

But as the years went by, my appreciation for the desert vistas grew and I started slowing
down and watching the scenery. One day I was looking at a mapbook and
I decided to try this route which I am posting about today.

When you get to Baker exit the freeway at the Mojave National Preserve off-ramp. My
advice to you is to stop and load up on bottled water and some snacks while in town.
Then go south on Kelbaker Road at a leisurely pace for the next 30 miles or so until you
reach Kelso Depot. As you go down into the valley, you'll see it way off in the distance
before you get to it.

Kelso Depot has been restored and now serves as the park hqtrs and a museum and even
has a lunch counter open, the Beanery. Check out the photo albums laid out from the cameras
setup at the watering holes for pictures of wildlife in the preserve. The museum is great, I love
history especially the history of the Mojave, you won't be disappointed. They have a gift shop
as well. After your visit to the depot, if you have time, continue south about 5 miles on Kelbaker
Road and visit the Kelso Dunes which you will see in the distance.

If you're short of time, I recommend you head north the 18 miles to Cima via Cima Road.
On the way up when you  reach Cedar Canyon Road, if you turn right and go up about 8 miles
or so you will see the Rock House which is where I took my backporch photo on the top of my
blog page. Get out of the car at the intersection, look left off in the distance the dirt road that
takes up at the intersection going west is the old Mojave Road and to the right of that ,the rounded
giant formation is Cima Dome.

Once you get to Cima, there is a small general store which may be open but I hear the post office
has been closed down. At the intersection, turn left, the sign says I-15 I believe. You will be on the right
road if you see these old structures. It is okay to take pictures but that is private property so stay
out of the buildings.

After you leave the "ghost town"
continue on through the Joshua Tree
forest and within 2 miles you will see
a very scenic ranch as the road curves around to bypass it. This is another
private property holding here in the

In another mile or so after the ranch
you should see a pile of giant rocks
on the right, on the other side of the
road is the Teutonia Peak trailhead.
I have hiked this and it is a very relaxing time although there is some work involved going up the mountain.
I am not in the best of shape, it has been said that Morongobill might be one or two ounces over-
weight but I made it up! It is about 3 miles roundtrip or so. By the way, that iron pole with the plywood
boards on it is the famous Mojave Desert Cross, the presence of which there is before the United States Supreme Court right now, we are awaiting the ruling now. I hope it stays myself. It is on Sunrise Rock.

After leaving here, continue north about 10 miles further and you will eventually run into I-15 Cima Road
exit near the rest stop. I recommend you go in and check out the store, gas however, is very expensive. It
was over $4 a gallon the last time I stopped in several months ago!

From here, heading uphill, at the top of the grade you will be at Mountain Pass,
where they will be soon re-opening the rare earth mines. This is one of the few sites
in the whole world where these are available in commercial quantities. If you take
off ramp and go straight following alongside the freeway, you will end up on a
dirt road which after a few miles will take you to Kokoweef, they say there is
a river of gold there underground. There is information here:

Here is another link to this legend:

I made it with my Ford Thunderbird to as far as the little settlement pictured on the second site link, and
didn't know if it was okay to go further(private property?) and turned around and came back to the
freeway with no problems. I even met a miner on the way up, who saw me taking photos and asked if I was okay, not broken down or anything.

From here, just get back on the freeway until you reach the Nipton Road exit. If you turn right and go about
6 miles or so, you'll be in Nipton, where I strongly recommend you check out the general store. They also
have rv campsites and tent cabins as well. There is a restaurant and the Nipton Hotel where Clara Bow,
the silent movie actress had her own room and stayed there often.

On the way out to Nipton, when you are in the valley floor and you see Nipton about 4 miles away,
on the right side of the road there is an empty clearing, that is where I took the photos in my previous
post here:
You'll get a different feel walking there now.

From here you just head back to I-15 and go on to "Lost Wages". As you approach the freeway, go over the bridge and pull off the road on the other side by the phone company building, you can park there. The hill to the right is the one where I took the overview of the Ivanpah valley and looking out in the distance there to the left side of the freeway and near the valley bottom about a mile or so in, is where the proposed Bright-
Source Solar Project is supposed to be built. You know my position on that already if you have been
reading my blog over the last few days.

What I sincerely hope is that by taking this little detour some of the "mojave mystique" has rubbed off on you
and you will at least be open minded on thoughts and feeling about whether this area is worth saving.
If you have some timme, get back on the freeway and get off at the next exit and head over to the left side of the lakebed and head up on the dirt roads and check out the area where the plant site is to be.

Well my friends, vaya con dios, look forward to seeing and chatting with you again on the backporch.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Go to this link, look it over, and..........

Ask yourself, is this place worth fighting for? Will the planet be a better place if this beauty is gone?

You know what my answer is, what's yours?


Very latest on the BrightSource Ivanpah Solar Project

See the New York Times Green, Inc blog post here along with my comments, I am the #3

Here is another link to a major organization fighting to stop this. This site has the best information that I've
come across. I strongly recommend you also don't miss the article toward the bottom of the page about spring
nights in Ivanpah as this might very well be the last normal spring this year. Next year it may be totally
denuded of plant and wildlife.

Also Chris over at Coyote Crossing wrote an eloquent plea for stopping this project. If these folks pushing
this have hearts and not computer chips inside, maybe they'll come to their senses. Read it here:

To paraphrase an email I sent the other day, this BrightSource offer is just an opening gambit, a "throw away"
offer, really of no consequence, tossing a pawn out there to see if it'll be snapped up. As I said in the email,
and I'll take license here and exaggerate a little, "ignore the pawn, take the @$#%^&^ queen!"

This is a fight to the finish here folks. I know of one activist who said he'll put himself in front of the bulldozers
if need be. Let's hope it won't come to that. I intend to go up, hopefully in a week or so and really walk the
land, see the plant life, enjoy the views for maybe the last time, document with my poor efforts at photography
the beauty of the Ivanpah site, just do what I can.

As always, vaya con dios, my friends. Maybe I'll run into a few of you out at the beautiful Ivanpah Valley!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wind power footprints in the Palm Springs area with implications for the Mojave.

Today I needed to drive up to Joshua Tree to pick some things up from
My storage unit there. On the way up I stopped on a frontage road off
I-10 to check out the new wind power turbines. These units are huge
with a diameter maybe 20 feet across. They're monsters!

There have been wind turbines here for decades. Most were smaller units

on metal stilts like this one with a smaller footprint. Like the ones in the photo

There are still a lot of these older types left in the pass, but lately all the new ones going in, are much larger. From watching the Discovery Channel, I know the inside of
the large column is hollow with a ladder way inside going up to the top.
The head that the blade attaches to is large enough for several men to
Stand together topside. That’s all that’s being installed now, gigantic
Wind towers- pretty much the same story all over the country.

Here is an example below:

My main concern with both solar and wind proposals for the desert is the land
Required and what they have to do to the land to put up the “clean energy plants.”
Another huge concern with solar is the enormous amount of water required which
Will have to come from the underground aquifers but that is another story. Here is
A photo of what the land outside the fence looks like, it has not been damaged.
Well someone has been driving across it but other than that, not tore up.
Below is what the ground looked like just a few feet to the right of this photo:

Sure looks great, like a garden almost, remember this is a desert! Below is what desert land looks like when you put in one of these new, large scale “wind farms”.

Those rows of wind turbines go a long way into the distance, there have to be a lot of acres which will need to be scraped off to put these up under current methods of installing them. Note that most of these wind farms are fenced off with barbed wire across the top, in a sensitive animal habitat area where say big horn sheep cross from
The mountain range and move through a valley to another mountain range, this could be a disaster for them. Plus the desert tortoise might have a problem going around or
Through the fencing. Bad news dude, maybe you’ll come back in the next life as a
I know some of my readers are familiar with the desert but others have never
Visited one or driven through one, and only know them from the movies or tv.
Trust me on this one, you really want to visit one and see for yourself. These
Photos are a poor substitute for the real thing but it’s the best I can do. Remember
I did put a call out a few days ago for volunteers to take a field trip with me
To the site of the proposed BrightSource Ivanpah solar project where you would
Really get to know the desert up close and personal. In case you’ve forgotten that
Area here is a pic taken from a hilltop that I climbed to:

You know that view really is priceless, looking out toward the Stateline Wilderness area and it is my ardent wish that it doesn’t change from this to this:

Image is of the Dagget solar plant near Barstow courtesy of Google Earth.

Okay folks, hope you enjoyed your stay here on the back porch and I look
Forward to another visit real soon. As always, vaya con dios.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Forshay Pass Rd up to the Vulcan Mine and a nice campsite!

Last night I was finishing up my reading of the Fall 2009 bicycle camping trip to the Mojave
National Preserve by a San Jose, California man who has made several trips to the area, and I
came across this page:

Readers who have followed this blog know that I posted about this site a few days ago. Anyway after
working long hours over the last few days, I couldn't decide what to post about and now I do!
This road he talks about is about 1 1/2 miles south of Kelso Depot on Kelbaker Rd., the only sign
is a yellow one warning that it is not maintained by the county, as you are driving south it will come up on the left.

This is an old road dating back I'd guess to the 1940's or earlier, heading up to the old closed Vulcan mine,
where they dug up the iron ore which was smelted down at the Kaiser steelmill in Fontana, California and
ended up as the steel used to make merchant marine ships in WW2. The road continues past the Vulcan Mine
and through Forshay Pass in the Providence Mountains and down the other side and running into the road
going down to Goffs where Dennis Casebier has restored the old schoolhouse.

The first time I drove up this road in a low-slung Ford Thunderbird with no problems, that was in 2004 I
believe, when these photos were taken. This road runs across the alluvial fan below the mountains and
the last time I drove it a couple of years ago it had washed out in places and I had to turn around. I recommend taking a high clearance vehicle, or check with the rangers and staff at Kelso Depot before
you leave for the road condition.

This is a very scenic ride as these photos attest with the real chance that you will encounter wildlife up the road aways. In 2004 I rode up with my brother, Andy, and we spotted a big bobcat within a mile or so of the mine! This photo is looking back at Kelso Depot off in the distance.

This is looking east toward the Providence Mountains.
The view looking uphill. I don't remember what grade this is, I just know it's pretty much uphill
all the way to the mine and it's nearby campsite which I wrote about in a previous post. I will
re-post a couple of those photos in this article below.
Here's another view uphill.
Another one looking back toward the road. That was my 1991 Ford Thunderbird which
still is my all-time favorite car that I've owned!
Here are a couple of the campsite photos including what really is an awesome view of the
Kelso Dunes in the distance.

This campsite does get some visitors, we saw where someone left charcoal fluid for the next
campers and that spot is big enough to park a small rv on the concrete pad. It was an old mine
building site probably. I believe the mine was actually over a big tailing pile to the left of that
concrete pad. Below is a google earth screen capture, I'm wrong. We weren't even near to the
mine. The mine is to the far right, the campsite is the tiny square on the left side.

Now in 2004 the rangers said they didn't recommend people camping by mines, but as you
can see this is not close to the Vulcan Mine after all. Car camping is allowed in the back-country
in the Mojave National Preserve as long as the area was historically used for it and is not too
close to a spring or natural water supply. The exact details can be found out by visiting the
park headquarters at Kelso Depot or online at

By the way, Kelso Depot is an absolutely "must see" and will be a future photographic
topic here on the backporch if I can find out where I put the cd with the many photos I took

As always, vaya con dios my friends. Remember you're always welcome out here on the
backporch, especially your comments! I am really interested in finding out if any of my readers
have ever driven up and over the Forshay Pass Road down to the Goffs Road.

Take care,

Sunday, February 7, 2010



I got a call from a good friend that I haven't heard from for awhile asking if I did win
per a rumor going around and another friend just walked in and asked the same thing.
Unfortunately I didn't win but if I did, the fight against the BrightSource solar project
would definitely be bankrolled!

This concludes this news break.


My Joshua Tree house which sold in December,2004

As promised, I wanted to tell you about my Joshua Tree house.

After living a couple of years out in the country in Morongo Valley, I got tired of taking
my company van up and down what charitably could be called a "4 wheel drive road."
My cargo van bouncing up and down, rocking from side to side, listening to the sliding
cardboard boxes and tools and parts rattling, started to drive me crazy! You have no idea
how irritating it got to be, kind of like the water torture..drip,drip,drip...

So I listed the property and right before the listing ended, miraculously a buyer appeared.

I found a small, 900 square feet, 1br,1ba plus den house for around $42,000 or so on a
lot in Joshua Tree village. The house was in a quiet area north of the main highway with a giant
and very old creosote bush out in the backyard. Man when it rained, that creosote bush smelled
so good and when it snowed, it would be bowed over almost to the ground. As I have mentioned
in a previous post, my photo filing system is horrible, and I can't find a photo of that creosote

This small house fit me like a glove and in hindsight was absolutely perfect! My monthly payment
total was $409 a month. But due to a mid-life crisis or something, I ended up selling it for a nice
profit and took a year or so off. Now I rent a room in the OC for more money.....

Anyway with out further ado, here a few photos of the house. The landscape shot was looking out
my backyard. I also will repost the fireplace photo again.





"Regrets, I've had a few." Frank sang about it, I second it.

As usual, your comments are welcomed here out on the backporch. Hope you
enjoyed your visit, vaya con dios, and look forward to visiting with you again.


"A solar plant a tortoise could love"

That is the title of an article linked below from High Country News in August 2009. I just came across
this in my web searching for information related to putting solar energy plants out in remote desert areas.

The article is about a company, esolar, founded by the Silicon Valley investor and entrepeneur, Bill Gross.
In a nutshell, they built a smaller solar plant on disturbed,used up private land close to where the power would be used. What a concept! 

Too bad, the policy makers and energy bigwigs did not think of this idea at the beginning, or if they did,
why did they dismiss it out of hand?

Here is the link and I recommend you peruse the High Country site if you have never surfed there, lots of
good information on the desert there:

Next up for the backporch is the promised post on my Joshua Tree house which I sold in December,2004
and to this day deeply regret doing so and still miss terribly!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who says you need the grid?

Come on out and grab a chair. I got a video you just gotta check out.

Keith Thompson lives off-grid in the New Mexico high desert in a house he built with
his own hands, using well water, and a solar system for power that he saved up for.
Originally from the Bronx, he now lives out in God's country and has no bills except for
his cell phone bill.

Folks, I got a confession to make. I really wish that was me in that video. What a life, out
in the country without the pressures of the big city.

And the beauty of his situation is he doesn't need the power grid. He knows what he can plug in,
and when it can be plugged in. You use only what you have available. Flick on the switch and
you have power. But you don't have an unlimited supply, so you use it wisely.

This video is just one story albeit told by a very articulate gentleman.

He is one of many people who are producing their own electric power via solar photo voltaic
panels, right on their own property. There are millions and millions of rooftops on homes and businesses,
churches, government buildings,etc where power could be generated right on site and even sold to the utilitiy
companies for a profit, like in parts of Europe and would require no new transmission lines, would
plug right into the existing grid------

But of course, we gotta do it our way,spend billions(yes I mean we the taxpayers) and build all
these clean energy plants way out,way out in some of the most scenic areas we have left---

See for yourself why I so enjoy this video. One man spending his own money to live the way he
wants to, with no bills. This is really an enjoyable video and well worth a download.

See it here:

Here is a screenshot at the beginning of the video which runs a very fast 8 minutes:
Go check out the video my friends, vaya con dios, and as always your comments and/or criticisms are
always welcomed here on the backporch.


Coming soon to a desert vista you care about!

And in my opinion, it sure doesn't improve the view.

These images courtesy of , home of some of the best desert information on the world wide web and without question for the Mohave Desert.

How would you like to drive up on this during your trip out to film the wildflowers blooming?

And of course, years later after all the plant biosystem has been scraped off, and hauled to the landfill or burned, the animals run off, this will be the end result, if not exactly, close enough:

I thought when I first looked at the bottom photo that those were windmills in the background
but now I don't think so. But folks, don't be surprised when you drive out to the Mohave or
another desert just a few years hence, you will in fact see a hat trick: solar mirrors, behind in the
distance windmills, and the newly upgraded transmission line network!

Never mind that there are millions of acres of depleted farm or industrial usage land near the population centers, i.e. cities, all over the country, that would be ideal for solar mirrors, or that the transmission lines lose about 10% of the juice they carry, it doesn't matter, raw land is cheap! Especially when the state and
federal governments fast track all the proposals, throwing out tax credits here and there, Obama bucks, we
call them here on the backporch! Sure makes you think the fix is in, doesn't it?

Some of my friends and associates will disagree with me here: thank God for Senator Diane Feinstein!
If it wasn't for her help and others involved in the cause, the photos above would,without a doubt, be a
done deal, and if we don't keep fighting this, will in fact be the future of the deserts!

If you are a new reader perhaps of the backporch, you might be thinking I am resorting to polemics,
exaggerating the danger to the desert perhaps. Here is an actual screen shot below with the navigation
bar readable from the state of California energy site, these are the proposals on the table, the list is huge,
go check it out:

As usual, vaya con dios my friends. Your comments and suggetions are always welcome here out on the


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Relax with these Mohave Preserve bicycle camping journals!

Today's relaxation day here at the backporch.This screenshot shows one of several sites I surf to when all I want to do is escape the big city and virtually head to the Mohave preserve. The same person did all the travels and put up these great sites.

This site belongs

a San Jose, Ca cyclist who over the last few years has spent up to 2 weeks a year bicycle camping in the Mohave National Preserve- riding his "Ten Ton Bike" on the paved and dirt roads. Sometimes he camps in the campgrounds, others out in the boondocks!

I strongly recommend these travel journals for everyone to check out. They are well written, chock full of details about the preserve from the types of plants he comes across, to information about animal life in the area, the springs, the mines in the
preserve, etc. The photography is first rate and I usually scroll through it a page at a time, look when you're
55 and a bus driver and possibly one or two ounces over-weight, you learn to live vicariously through
others ;-)

I did get motivated enough to buy a used Trek old school mountain bike and took it up to Cima and rode about 3 miles and look forward to a return trip one day. In the meantime I will enjoy this site and I hope you folks will also.

Here are the links to the Mohave trips, there are others as well listed on each site.

Well I am really amazed. Somehow I missed the latest trip in the fall. I haven't checked that trip out at all!

I'll be checking that ,new to me, trip out tonight kicking back here on the backporch.

As usual, vaya con dios my friends and feel free to leave comments on any of the posts here.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Great link for facts on solar photo voltaic(for rooftops,etc)

This is from the official U.S. Dept. of Energy website. Of particular interest to me is the assertion that
PV units put up in the estimated 5 million "brown" acres, for example unused former industrial areas in cities,
could produce 90% of our total energy needs as a country.

I'm really starting to get what some have been warning all along, that the reason "Big Solar and wind" are so
hell-bent on grabbing up in the land in the deserts has more to do with speculative or cheap price reasons than anything else.

Next time you hear some talking head going on about how we absolutely must put these "clean energy technologies" way out in the middle of nowhere, think about the facts brought up here on the official website
of the U.S. Government.

To me, it makes more sense to put the pv's on rooftops or on abandoned industrial land in the cities, put power right where it's needed, and put market forces at work,as in Europe where people actually make money from their "home power" instead of this top down,lobbyist driven, big Wall Street speculative driven,
command economy style, in bed with the power company "fast tracked solar and wind industrial complex"
which is about to be  rammed our throats. Or shoved up our..... You get my drift.

Folks, I'm doing my best to try and be a kinder and gentler blogger, but you know if you really care about something, sometimes you can't just sit there and not voice an opinion. As I've said before, I'm new to this
and am arriving late to the table, but hopefully not too late to try and help out. Prime rare species habitat
shouldn't be scraped down and covered with mirrors or windmills, period. Especially when there is another

As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Vaya con dios my friends,


This photo looks out upon the future site of the Ivanpah BrightSource project.

Plan to turn Owens Dry Lake Bed into a solar field.

From the Los Angeles Times February 2, 2010 and linked via the DesertBlog.

The story will be linked to below but first, let me say this seems to be a good idea to me and
worth looking at closely. Here is a bedrock,etched in stone fact, that will not change- LA DWP
will never give up the Owens Valley water, they've had it for decades,no court in the land will kick them out
and at the most will tinker around the edges with them, as in releasing a little water for restoration.
Fact- there are and will continue to be windstorms coming across the lake bed kicking up the dust,
it's been a fact of life for decades and this plan offers up some hope on that issue.

I smell the workings of a deal here- DWP builds the solar arrays on the lakebed, alleviating the dust
and helping with the states power woes, and promises not to sell the power to other states but 
keep it here in California, and DWP won't develop the land north of the lake that they own, making
some happy. Everyone would get and give some, making a deal easier to live with.

If the projections are correct and this project could generate up to 10% of the states electric supply
this hopefully would alleviate the "need" to tear up so much of the deserts to put in these clean energy
developments, at least that's what we fervently hope out here on the backporch!

DWP has sure got their best salesman working on it for sure, Mr. Freeman could sell an icebox to an
eskimo, no doubt in my mind on that.

Here is the link:,0,2677831.story?track=rss

As always, vaya con dios my friends and feel free to comment on this or other posts here at
the backporch.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My time living in the desert and becoming Morongobill.

For 16 years I worked as a field service representative in the supermarket sanitation industry.
I drove company cars or vans the whole time and my company did not care where I lived as
long as I could cover my territory which extended from Catalina Island out to Las Vegas, Nevada.
I called on each store about once every six weeks.

I started thinking about living in the desert seriously around 1998 or so and every time I'd go up to the Victorville
or Yucca Valley area I'd pick up all the real estate books for study. I did this for 2 years and finally bought this place in Morongo Valley on 2 1/2 acres in 2000:

This was a 2 bedroom and 1 bath house that had 2 wood stoves and also a small propane wall heater.
A wash ran along the left side, to the left of the car in the photo. The kitchen was on the left side, looking
out that window one morning while drinking coffee at the kitchen table, I felt movement outside rather
than saw it, and outside about 6 or 7 coyotes froze in the wash. They looked at me, I looked at them,
and they just vanished into the brush.

Another time, I looked out the window as 2 huge german shepherds chased a coyote right outside in the wash, giving up the chase right out the window. They looked so wore out, tongues hanging out as they lifted their legs in unison, leaving their scent markers. The coyote was sitting on a little mound about 50 yards past,
I swear he looked like he was smiling. And without a backwards look, he sauntered off. Unbelievable but true.

The next coyote story happened when I was out here at my garage loading my van one evening:
I had been out there organizing the van after loading it, cutting up boxes, cleaning up and
suddenly down hill about 100 or so yards away, a large coyote group broke out into a group
chorus of yips, yowls, weird sounds that out in the garage at night started making me a little nervous.
I told myself nothing to worry about, coyotes don't attack humans, and the sounds suddenly were a
lot closer, as in just beyond the edge of the garage lights, and I still told myself, "I'm not scared,
but I remember something that needs to be done, right now, in the house!"

The photo above was the view out my front door looking into the general direction
where the coyotes were partying.

I lived at the end of a very rough dirt road, actually more of a 4wd trail, and after a couple
of years of going up and down it, listening to all the tools,equipment boxes, supplies rattling
back and forth in the back of my cargo van, I had enough and decided to list the property
for sale. It sold in 2002 I believe and then I moved up the road to the little village of Joshua
Tree in a tiny house on a paved road... which will be a subject for a future post, but in the meantime
here is a photo from the JT house.
Until we meet again, vaya con dios my friends.

Please your comments are welcome as always,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Outside looking in

It occured to me that with the internet we can be deluged with information. A perfect
example are the various clean energy developments that you can read about on the state
and federal websites such as the ones I've linked to in previous posts. Truly, there is a
flood in biblical proportions in the info out there.

But I am reminded of the old computer adage, garbage in, garbage out.

How do we know if the agencies are releasing all of the information or cherry picking the
facts and figures that the policy makers want and need to present us with the "done deal"?
We don't know. And I haven't heard of a modern day "deep throat" leaking out the true story.

As mentioned recently here, the BLM and other agencies have been with-holding info then releasing it at the last minute, right before the public hearings. I can't prove it, I'm taking someone else's word, but
it sure is walking and quackinng just like a duck.

How do we know really if a view like this one near the Ivanpah proposed BrightSource project will
really look a few years in the future? I, for one, hope it never changes. How will pumping
over a 1000 acre-feet of water from the desert aquifer affect the plant life in this vista? Have
the "books been cooked?" We really don't know, we have to have faith in our elected leaders.
My faith is in God, not with the bureaucrats running the show in Washington and Sacramento.

Must we always be on the outside looking in, not finding out what's coming until the Mack truck

runs over us?

Please feel free to comment or criticize if you like.


What's happening out in your neighborhood?

Folks, I've published a few posts referring to the BLM's Geocommunicator map online and thought
we could see how it works together. According to their website you should use Internet Explorer but I
have been using Mozilla Firefox with no problems.

Anyway why don't you open a new tab on your browser and go to this link:

You should now be looking at this on your screen:
Now you have several options but for this tutorial,let's look in your area. If you look at the top of your map you'll see a button entitled placename, click on it, and then put in the location name. I'll use Baker, Ca for my
post here. A box will come up and just click on the correct location. Your screen should show something
like this:

After you click on your location, your screen should look similiar to this:

Now it gets interesting and more complicated. You can play with all the options later but for now
I'll tell you about the area to the right: layers,legend, and quick start. Layers will overlay all kinds of
info, I have been concentrating on energy and it has overlays for solar,wind, etc. The legend will
show the colors for the different energy usage planned or proposed. For this example I will look 
for solar,wind,transmission corridors etc and my selections you'll see on the right side clicked:

To get this level of information I clicked the boxes on the right and alsozoomed 2-3 levels by clicking the zoom slider on the far left right under the large G emblem. Now if you look to the right and click legend
and scroll down you can see what those color boxes stand for, here is the example :
The blue shaded boxes are wind energy proposals planned or approved. You can scroll and also see where the orange is for solar etc. Your map of your area might hold some real surprises for you.

Try it folks. See what's planned in your neck of the woods. This map covers the whole United States but is
really appropriate for out here in the west where the largest landowner is usually the federal government.

Please try it out and let me know how it goes. Your comments and concerns are welcomed here on
the backporch. I'm not an expert by no means with Geocommunicator but I'm learning more everyday about

Yesterday was a 15 hour day driving a bus so my apologies if my presentation wasn't perfect but know
this- you are welcome anytime out here on the backporch. I don't know what we'll talk about everyday
or if we'll meet up everyday, but we will get together. If you are planning on visiting California, come on
out, visit all the usual destinations, but it is my hope that you will find some time to visit the Mohave desert
and the Mohave National Preserve- once you get out of your car and gaze out at the vast, never-ending
vistas, the quiet and serenity, the sound of the wind and the birds- you'll fall in love just like I have...

Take care my friends,