April 2017 print of the month

They have been called the “traveling rocks” or “sailing rocks”. They reside at the Racetrack in eastern Death Valley National Park. It is a good 3+ hours from Furnace Creek, and 1 1/2 hours of which is high clearance, 4-wheel drive road. It is 26 miles from the highway turnoff. I took my upgraded 4-Runner, and, other than being thrown around a lot, it did fine . However I did see a Volvo station wagon at the parking lot to the playa. (A playa is a dry lake bed.) It was a rental, so I am sure the renters did not care. (I would love to see the underside damage!)

It is a several hundred yard walk out to the playa from the parking lot. Most of the year one is greeted with a hard-packed and cracked dry lake bed. As one wanders out for the pictures, one is greeted with a peculiarity. Some of the stones have been stolen!! …presumably for their “magical powers”. This can easily be seen in paths that have no rock at the end. Also people have wandered out on the playa and left deep footprints in the previously wet lake bed. This is a painful observation that obscures the pristine reality of what is happening here.

Thanks to an ever-expanding body of knowledge through science, we now know why these rocks move across the lake bed. It is another example where science has dispelled the myths of aliens or magnetic field shifts or strong winds and algae or other mystifying explanations.

However it is not about science’s explanation that I present this image. I present it for its presentation of a meaningful reality that has nothing to do with science.

The rock clearly shows where it’s been. It reminded me of my own recollections of where I’ve been. As such, I have named it, “where I’ve been”. Most of the time we know where we are. But we are not always clear about where we have been.

This is a simple image of one rock among hundreds on the Racetrack.

Sailing stones on the Racetrack

I am fascinated and (in my profession) guided by science, and was delighted to see how this phenomenon occurs. Everyone can now understand what is happening. But what this image means takes me out of the realm of science and into the realm of meaning and art.

April 2017 print of the month

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