Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recovery...for the Backyard

Last year, I ranted about my backyard wildflower garden being buried under rocks and soil during renovations.  Now renamed the "Remembrance Garden", it has been rebuilt as shown in this photo from a few weeks ago.  As are all of my approximately 200 feet of rock walls, they are all "dry stack". 

This photo (from a different angle than above) shows the mess from last year, after it was partially cleaned up.  At the time, I had no idea what would survive and what wouldn't, if I ever got it cleaned up.  I was a bit demoralized, to say the least. 

As is mis-understood by those who are not artists, it is hard to classify something such as this as ever being completely "finished".  My supply of flat stones has been largely used up and with the sour economy, there has not been as much construction going on (plus "No Trespassing" signs (which I do not violate) are more prevalent than ever at construction sites), so work has slowed.

Just a few in-progress photos of work from last year.

More photos will be posted in later articles, as Spring reveals what has survived the burial and the Winter.  Included also will be photos of the other backyard walls, constructed of flat stones that were used in the front yard, prior to renovations.

Eagle Mts., Texas 1978...Intro

So many stories to tell about that summer. 

Late, late on a Saturday night.  Can't sleep.  Posted this photo of East Mill, Eagle Mts., Texas on Facebook and began to reminisce.  Even in normal daylight hours, my kids (daughter 26, married with two little boys and is too busy and my 18 year-old son, trying to get out of high school and into some sort of job) are not yet interested in my Field Geology "war stories".  Other Geologists and Southwestern outdoor-enthusiasts identify with the "desert solitude" and experiences of Trans-Pecos mountain ranges and the surrounding flats (or bolsons).  The swapping of such stories is best done over one or more beers, but time, distance, and money prevent such reunions (in their proper context, they would have to be in El Paso).  So while I wind down this temporary Saturday night insomnia, I will write a little.  For my little bit of cyber-posterity and in the hopes that someone will find these tales interesting.  [I did write a bit about the Eagle Mts. and this photo in a prior blogpost a couple of years ago.]

I spent 10 weeks during the Summer of 1978 in the Eagle Mts., of Hudspeth County, Texas.  The purpose was to work on a Master's Thesis project, along with 3 other UTEP grad students, Dan, Mike, and Bob.  We were each supposed to do a quandrant of the mountains.  Dan and I worked on the southern "half" of the mountains in my 1976 Jeep 4x4 pickup (with a camper shell), while Bob and Mike worked on the northern "half" - I think they may have used university vehicles. 

Mike (NE quad) and I (SE quad) each got burned out later (personal stuff) and didn't finish our projects, but each of us helped our field partners get theirs finished.  A doctoral student later did his dissertation on the eastern "half" of the mountains, that we didn't finish.  Mike and I each finished our Master's Theses on separate subjects - in other areas - a few years later.

Basically, the Eagle Mountains are largely composed of caldera-deposits superimposed over "Chihuahua Tectonic Belt" thrust sheets, similar in some ways to the Quitman Mountains to the northwest and other calderas related to the "ignimbrite flareup" of the Tertiary period in Trans-Pecos Texas, New Mexico, and elsewhere in the southwestern United States.  Without searching through files for maps, essentially this view is ENE, towards the vicinity of Van Horn, Texas.  The hills in the near-background are Cretaceous carbonates and clastics (Wyche Ridge) that formed part of the rim of the caldera.  In the far-background are various mountain ranges including rocks from Proterozoic metamorphics to Oligocene volcanics.

Just a few of the headings/subjects/memories to be covered in this series include (as the spirit moves me):

Welcome to the Eagle Mountains
Adventures at East Mill
Adventures at South Mill (or whatever it was called)
4x4 Adventures in Driving
Weather Events
Critters Great and Small
A Few Beer Cans
Back to Town for Supplies

A return visit to the Eagle Mountains is on my Personal Geo-Bucket List under "wanted, but unlikely", as I would first need a good 4x4 and permission from land-owners.  And time and money. 

So, please come back and check on the progress.