Last Day in the Desert

Our rehab in the desert is almost over and we are both feeling rested and ready to get back to Portland and our activities. So I am posting some activities from yesterday and today.

First, I want to share Mary Anne Jordan’s artist statement from the Quilt Vision’s former jurors show. I sort of paraphrased it yesterday, but here is the actual quote.

I have always been interested in allowing the human mark to be obvious in the work. I draw by hand and measure by eye. I allow the process of fabric dyeing and mark making to be obvious in the work. One can see brush strokes, smears, drips, colors running together. I am very interested in making “beautiful” quilts from fabrics that might be considered ruined. I see this as a kind of positive reaction to my/our impersonal world.

I just love this artist statement and feel a kinship to this woman!!

Now, on to the adventure we had yesterday. What in the world was a die hard peacenik doing at a Marine base, you ask? Steve’s brother and wife insisted that we would enjoy this tour, which we thought would last for half a day, but went from 0800 to 1500.

We were with a group of community activists – mainly environmentalists – from the surrounding area. Our first stop was at the mock Iraqi villages where the recruits train for 30 -40 days before heading to Iraq. We were told that we could take photos of anything except those who play the parts of Iraqi citizens. We did not see any so no problem!! You can see all my photos at my Twenty Nine Palms Marine Base flickr site. I decided to see how many arsty photos I could take on a Marine base!!

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We climbed in and around these buildings and saw hidden tunnels and other weird stuff that one would find in such a village.

Next, we had an education in IED’s — improvised explosive devices. We sat in the IED classroom and saw some examples of the devices. We took a walk along a road and saw the many ways that these devices are hidden. We then got to see the incredible armored vehicles that these brave men travel in, along with the robots that go out and search for devices. They let us play with the computers that control the robots.

We then had lunch in the mess hall with the Marines. It cost $4.25 for all you can eat of a huge variety of food. We were impressed that the uniforms for enlisted and officers is the same. There is only a bit of insignia on the collar to denote their rank. The bus drove around the base to show us the housing, schools, community centers and other amenities on the base. Never having visited a base, I was quite impressed with every thing. They are getting rid of all the water reliant landscaping and replacing it with desert plants. Here is a beautiful Palo Verde tree. I love the green color.

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The afternoon events were what the tour group had come for. A visit to the recycling plant and the solar fields. The Twenty Nine Palms Marine base is way ahead of any other military base in becoming green and sustainable. They have created a very impressive recycling program. Where Marines train, there is a lot of metal trash left — out in the training sectors. The recycing is run as a Department of Defense program. The workers are government civil service workers. They sort, cut up and prepare the different metals to be purchased by US recycling companies who then melt it down for reuse. They take brass shell casings, clean them and crush them into little brass nuggets.

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I brought the above to Ann to use in her jewelry making. She likes to make jewelry from found objects.

I loved the bales of concertina wire. I am going to make a thermofax screen of this.

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I found some other inspiration in the recycle yard:

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Our last stop and the most interesting to the activists was the solar field. This is just a small portion.

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They are able to produce about 40% of their power from the solar grid. It was quite amazing to see these blue panels with their faces turned to the sun. They have also installed quite a bit of solar powered lighting and are adding motion detected lights where possible to cut down on the power use and the light in the beautiful black night sky of the desert. I asked the guide if the drive to become sustainable and green came from within or from pressure outside. He admitted that the activists who surround the base and care about this fragile environment have been the driving force, but they are very proud of what they have accomplished.

The men on the base are so young and beautiful. They are each some mother’s son, and I was relieved to see the seriousness of their training and care before they are sent off to harm’s way. It was bittersweet.

Today, we did something we love to do when we come here. We spent some time hiking, having lunch and taking in the beautiful scenery that is Joshua Tree National Park. You can see those photos in the Flickr set. Here are a few of my favorite photos from today.

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Here are some intrepid climbers.

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5 Responses to “Last Day in the Desert”

  1. Grace says:

    Thank-you for the nuanced post about your visit to the base.

    We are very fond of Joshua Tree NP, too.
    http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2008/03/desert-monster.html

    In fact, we might have stayed at the same small and quirky inn.
    http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2008/03/few-more-pictures-of-inn.html

  2. Kristin L says:

    In Germany, we had pretty good recycling (pressure from the Germans, and a good infrastructure on their part), but I’ve never been on a base with such a commitment to solar power. I hope more take this direction as bases are slowly renovated.

  3. sion says:

    that was very interesting, thankyou. Is the lack of distinction in uniforms is less about egalitarian ideals and more about not painting huge targets on the officers for the benefits of snipers, or am I just cynical?

  4. Reva says:

    Military bases going green; that’s good news, I guess. Swords into plowshares would be the _ultimate_ recycling, though.

  5. Judy says:

    Bittersweet indeed!
    I too love Joshua Tree, and enjoyed your photos.

    xo