Mesquite Bosque at The Desert National Wildlife Refuge

These are multiple shots of the mesquite bosque at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge in Clark County, Nevada, USA. A bosque is a woodland, applied to a gallery forest of the desert.

Hard surface and rough dirt trails provide access to the entire perimeter of this extensive woodland. Travel through the interior of the bosque is not possible due to the cactus sharp thorns of the mesquite.

The bosque is immediately north of the visitor center, in easy walking distance. Corn Creek is nearby, it is possible this grove exists because of the unusually high water table at this location in the DNR.

Mesquite_Bosque_at_the_Desert_National_Wildlife_Refuge from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.
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Schedule Your Disaster

Schedule anything risky or way off pavement during regular business hours. In these days of COVID 19 and long before it, getting help is always more assured during the week in daylight. It shouldn’t be that way but it is.

As all of you have experienced during this crisis, getting hold of customer service can take hours on the phone if it ever comes at all. E-mails aren’t returned, voice mails go unanswered.

It’s as if companies have forgotten that there are temp agencies and that there are plenty of people at home that could easily fill a call center seat. Most call centers simply require an employee to log on to a website and everything proceeds from there.

The only reason companies haven’t staffed up must be to save money, the virus being the perfect excuse to not spend money on customer support.

And then there are the obvious things. Most BLM offices close on weekends. No help there. Same with most USFS field offices. Want to look at a claim folder at the county recorder’s office on a Saturday? Forget it. Better get your work done during the week.

Because of this, I’d advise risky activities take place during the week during normal business hours. Globalstar, for example, provides 24 hour service but only during the week. You should therefore, cross the north Atlantic between Monday and Friday. The same applies for most businesses, even those providing critical support.

Both of my parents were in hospice at the same time, although, very sadly, at two different locations. As my Dad was a former physician, he probably had the best health insurance possible. Still, we could not get night help for them. Despite the insurance plan saying we were entitled to a medical professional at night, no one never showed. Endless excuses from the medical provider, all of them relating to short staffing.

Few people want to work from 10 PM to 6 AM. That’s a fact. You’re not changing that. Call centers shouldn’t suffer from this since they can have people in different time zones working around the globe. But the fact is that they don’t.

If you do go venturing far off pavement during these dim times, make sure you have enough food and water to get through to Monday. I have a personal recovery service on my two sat devices called GEOS and in a real emergency I can push that button and help will be coming. Still, most of what we deal with are non-life threatening problems that don’t warrant an SAR team or a helicopter.

It’s all quite maddening.
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Prospecting For A Pegmatite Pocket

This is an excellent and current video on pegmatite pockets by Tom Campbell, Staff Mineralogist, The Arkenstone.

I’m headeding into pegmatite country soon and I will be on the lookout. Sobering statistics. Less than 1% of pegmatite rock hosts pockets and only 1% of that contains recoverable, intact gemstones.

Never-the-less, I always find something interesting when I am out in the field, especially in an area of complex geology.

On my last trip I found that rare granite and wonderful pyrite specimens in a black matrix (probably biotite rich schist) right along the side of the road. There was some pegmatite rock as well but of poor quality.

Who knows? I am going.
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Did You See The New Gallery?

New Gallery

Update! – June 3, 2020

My good friend Linda Dodge has gone ’round the rock garden to take pictures of rocks and description signs I  missed. She has also taken better pictures in many cases of rocks I had already photographed. 78 photos in total, of which I suspect at least twenty will be posted here. Time to start processing. Captions will take a long time to do.

Original Article Below:

I’m still working on it but a new gallery is up, this one on the rock garden at U.C. Davis in Davis, California..

Parking is expensive at U.C. Davis during the weekdays ($10!?) but you can use that parking pass all over campus. Have a picnic in the Shields Oak Grove where I volunteered for many years. All of the arboretum is first class.

They have a fine equestrian center and if you are quiet and not too suspicious looking, you can walk through the stables and consider whether you really want to own a Percheron.

Most campus buildings are probably closed to the public, but when they reopen there are a variety of places to eat. You don’t need to be staff or a student to eat at most of them.

There’s a science library, a law library, and a main library.

If you have a bicycle you will fit right in.


My friend the practicing geologist confirms that I indeed found leucogranite with altered garnet in the Utah Hill area and that it is suitable for study use. I go back to the area this week to look for a pegmatite pocket. Follow me on Instagram, that’s where I report on my field trips.

Rolf Luetke is operating Sunshine Gifts and Gallery by appointment these days, hoping to reopen fully when Arizona allows. If you are in southern Arizona, say, near Tombstone, make sure to give Rolf a call.
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Hope you are well or well enough.

Just got back from Utah. People and families are on the move for the summer, with my hotel completely booked for the weekend and surrounding hotels looking equally crowded.

Good days of exploring Washington County, Utah, its southwestern most corner.

Found agates, a rare granite, and the northernmost stand of Joshua Trees in the United States.

I’m not interested in personal writing much these days, paid writing and editing continues as normal. Or as normal as These Times permit.

I’m active on Instagram as it is easier than writing blog posts.

My interest now is in exploring for my own enjoyment and to document places little covered, media wise, for Wikimedia Commons. I’m putting everything I do into the public domain.

This page has many images and information of one area I stopped in:

And here are links to some videos, without context or explanation. For that, see Wikimedia Commons under my name:

Vimeo only for now, agate hunting at Holt Canyon, Utah:
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Finally! An Affordable Sat Phone

But will it work?

I’ve written how I have a SpotX by Globalstar (internal link) in case of emergencies when I am beyond cellular coverage.

I’m glad I have the device but the keyboard is difficult to use and it is a text based message service, in fact, the texts must be less than 150 characters.

Still, despite those limitations, it can connect with the outside world and I bought into a personal recovery service and a vehicle recovery service.

Globalstar has a new device. It’s called a Sat-Fi2 which is a small satellite terminal that works off your smart phone.

Besides text and regular e-mail, it provides voice! And a tie in to the nearest 911 center in case of an emergency. Voice! I can’t tell you how long I have waited for this.

The last time I priced sat phones was three years ago before my travels through the Southwest. Hardware was from $750 to $1,000 which I could manage. It was the air time that killed the deal.

Just that short time ago, air time was 75 cents to a dollar a minute. And you needed to buy huge blocks of airtime to get that price. And those minutes expired quickly. No rollover, use them up quick. A real racket.

I think Globalstar may have added more capacity by putting up more satellites, don’t know. I can’t explain the price drop.

Will it work? I’m going to find out on my upcoming trip into Utah. Right now, I am awaiting it to arrive, whereupon I will take it on the road. I still have my SpotX paid up until September so I am not going without a backup. And I have my handheld ham radio. And my CB radio.

Globalstar is running a promotion on the device for whatever reasons I do not know. $249 dollars for the hardware, figure $300 or so with tax and shipping, and $50 a month for unlimited voice and data.

Let’s talk about that data. The most Globalstar is promising is 72kbps, realistically, you’ll be getting data transfer at the equivalent of a 56K modem from 1996. You won’t be doing heavy business with this device but you will get e-mails out and back. But voice!

Nothing beats voice communication for relaying real time information. Everybody knows that. Now, I just have to find out if this is a broken or kept promise. I’ll be reporting back soon.

If you want to try this unit, deal with Globalstar directly. Going through a third party means trouble.

Here’s a link to them, and no, I do not get a commission. Nothing on this site is commercial, nothing is meant to sell anything. Ever seen an ad?
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Run Off Twice In Three Days

In three days I was run off land I was taking pictures on. A new record. Once by a public official and one by a private security guard. (Who had a K9 with him.) Some thoughts.

Anyone patrolling and protecting private or public land gets hard from dealing with thieves, vandals, squatters, pot growers, and people off-roading where they shouldn’t.

As such, you are most likely deemed a profiteer no matter what you are doing. If I have a camera, the question is always, “Are you a professional? Are you selling these photographs?” If I am rockhounding, it’s always, “Do you make money off of this?” Sigh.

My attempts at explaining are always seen as arguing. It puts these people immediately on the defensive. You don’t not want to do that. I say what I am doing, I am always friendly, and I always leave an area as asked. It doesn’t matter if I am right or not, I do not want to fail what cops call the attitude test.

Law enforcement can throw you into jail for almost anything. Whether the charges stick, that’s another matter. Right now, you are in jail. A police officer puts you in jail under what are called booking charges. They can be practically anything. It’s the district attorney (or whatever other official is tasked with prosecutions), who decide what the final charges will be. If any.

In questions like trespass, the DA probably doesn’t want to even consider the case. You may be fined with no further jail. The DA may be more mad at the police officer for bringing them another case that isn’t a priority. To that point, a policeman also doesn’t want to develop a history of jailing people on minor charges who get immediately released.

I belong to the Public Lands for the People and have a bumper sticker for them on my truck. They advocate getting all sorts of information from the officer in case you are stopped. I don’t ask for an officer’s full name. If I need to, I’ll get their license plate number. That will be enough to identify them later on. Less confrontation.

Speaking of names, if you mention someone in their agency, be prepared to have that name. “I know someone.” “Okay, Jack, who?” A printout is best, don’t be stuck by the side of the road searching through your e-mails on your phone. I carry printouts of current rockhounding regulations for both the BLM and USFS in my truck, along with the rules for collecting in Wilderness Areas. I have printed out my correspondence with certain state and national level BLM and USFS officials, along with their phone numbers.

Anything on paper is far better than describing it. If you want to try to explain yourself. Which, again, may seem argumentative and confrontational. Your call. Good luck.

Oh, if you are doing something really debateable, get the business card of a criminal defense lawyer and keep it in your wallet. Pay for an hour of their time to introduce yourself and tell them what you are doing. Find someone who practices criminal law, nothing else. They are very different from other lawyers. And get the business card of whatever bail bondsman that attorney recommends. Just saying.
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Desert Pavement

Just finished uploading a file to Wikimedia Commons showing desert pavement. It’s reworked footage from my prospecting desert pavements video.

In this video, I remove all narration and free certain frames along the way. I think this works best, leaving a description of desert pavement up to educators and students.

There are many nice still photos of desert pavement from around the world at Wikimedia Commons but no video.

Here’s the link to its page at Wikimedia.,_Nevada.webm

Many devices can’t play that file format. So, here is the same footage at Vimeo, unfortunately, more compressed. Downloading any video file always and then playing it always produces the best results.
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Two Minutes Walking in A Desert Wash

I’m documenting some different things at Wikimedia Commons for anyone to view or use.

Wikmedia Commons uses an odd video file format that may not play on your device. It’s called .webm. These videos open and operate reliably in the Firefox broswer, my iPad, but not my iPhone.

Editing or otherwise working with a Wikimedia Commons hosted video may prove fruitless unless you have a commercial converter. I use Movavi products for all of my video work. They are very cheap compared to anything Adobe and are far simpler to use.
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