On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,


So sorry about Monday’s post. I literally fell asleep in bed with my iPad open to the post and woke up Monday morning and pretty much immediately had crazy rain and hungry cats to deal with, so I didn’t give it a second thought until much later in the day.

And then, Monday evening, working on the Tuesday post, all was set and… WTF I KNOW I HIT SCHEDULE but I didn’t sit to watch it save and apparently it didn’t, so I’m pushing what was supposed to have been Monday’s post, then Tuesday’s, to Thursday. Sincere apologies to everyone – this week is just not going well, apparently. Let’s hope my other endeavors are not so-afflicted.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!


Today, pictures from valued commenter 🐾BillinGlendaleCA.

The Starman returns(yet again)…

This set of photos is part 1 of a two part set. This submission has shots from a trip to Xyzzx which is on the road to Las Vegas and a return to Joshua Tree.


Anybody from LA who’s driven to Las Vegas has seen the mysterious sign Xyzzx Rd. as you approach Baker, CA. There’s actually a Xyzzx at the southern end of that road. It began as a “heath spa”(it was a sham worthy of a Trump) and was eventually closed down by the Feds. The buildings there are now the Desert Research Center of the Cal State University system(it’s not affiliated with any campus). The Dark Sky Finder web site(https://darksitefinder.com/maps/world.html#4/39.00/-98.00) shows Xyzzx as almost as dark as Amboy Crater and has a small lake, so I wanted to check it out. I also wanted to test out my latest addition to my camera collection, a Samsung Galaxy NX(it’s an Android based camera). Madame and I headed out for what Google Maps said would be a 3 hour trip(2 1/2 hours and change without traffic), the trip ended up taking 4 hours. We arrived just after sunset and as it started to get dark we noticed a haze to the east. That haze was the stars and the band of the Milky Way starting to come into view with the fading sunlight. It was also very windy, so though I’d packed the sky tracker, I didn’t think it’d work with the gusts of wind. I took a couple of test shots with the new(to me) camera and they looked good and then sent one to a fellow photographer since we had cell service(this would come back to haunt me). I took shots next to the lake(fisheye to the east with the new camera and wide angle to the southeast with my NX1).

Joshua Tree

After I sent my fellow photographer the picture, he wanted to go to Joshua Tree the next day. Madame thought this was madness, but the next afternoon I was driving off to Joshua Tree. As with the trip to Xyzzx, the drive took about 4 hours. We headed into the park and parked at the same place where we’d(my fellow photographer organizes the meetups) shot the Milky Way 2 years ago. I wanted to head there first to get some shots of the sunset. He wanted to shot at Arch Rock, so we took his car there and shot some pics and then shot at another location on the return to our central meeting place and my car.

Taken on 2019-07-01 00:00:00

Zzyzx, CA

One of the things I discovered about the Galaxy NX camera is it doesn’t produce RAW and JPG files like my other cameras. So to send the file to my fellow photographer, I had to switch the camera to produce JPG’s. I shot the shot to send him and set it, and then change the camera back to RAW. RAW files capture what the camera’s sensor sees, while JPG’s take that information and alters it with the camera’s white balance, noise reduction and exposure level and then compresses the file. It’s fine for snapshots, but doesn’t work well for shots of the Milky Way. So this shot is not the best, but I decided to include it anyway since it shows a wide view of the area. On the right you see the CSU Desert Research Center(the old spa buildings), moving to the center you can see a small light dome(light on the horizon) the emits from Laughlin, NV(about 85 miles away), and to the left you can see the trail of head lights of I-15 and the bright light dome from Las Vegas(also about 85 miles away).

I noticed that I spelled Zzyzx incorrectly in the Introduction, Zzyzx is the correct spelling.

Taken on 2019-07-01 00:00:00

Zzyzx, CA

Here you see the galactic center of the Milky Way over the CSU Desert Research Center and Lake Tuendae. Zzyzx is actual on the edge of a dry lake bed(Soda Lake, a different one than the one on the Carizzo Plain) which is actually the terminus of the Mojave River. It’s usually dry, but does fill with water during especially rainy seasons. Lake Tuendae and what were once the therapy pool are fed by the Zzyzx Spring just south of Zzyzx. This was shot with my NX1(40 exposures, 15 seconds, f/2.0, ISO 1600, stacked).

Taken on 2019-07-02 00:00:00

Ryan Mountain Trailhead, Joshua Tree National Park, CA

On my first trip to Joshua Tree with the Meetup group 2 years ago, we shot at this location. Before the sun set, several of us headed up the trail and shot pictures of the sunset. I really think this is a great location to shoot the sunset with the two large rocks on either side with a joshua tree forest in the background. I really wanted to re-shoot it since I have better equipment, skills, and tools than I did 2 years ago.

Taken on 2019-07-02 00:00:00

Ryan Mountain Trailhead, Joshua Tree National Park, CA

I shot this just after the sun had set and we started heading down to the car. Next it was off to Arch Rock.

Taken on 2019-07-02 00:00:00

Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park, CA

After leaving the Ryan Mountain Trailhead, we took one car to Arch Rock(harder to get separated like we did last month) since parking was limited when we tried to shoot there last month. When we got to the road to the campground/parking the gate was closed. We parked in a wide place on the road and walked in, there was only one other car parked there. Once we arrived at Arch Rock there were a bunch of photographers already up on the ledge by the rock(photographers are like cockroaches, they come out in the dark). We stayed below the ledge and tried to shoot though the arch, but the view wasn’t great and the galactic center wasn’t lined up all that well. I decided to shoot an area just to the north of Arch Rock which I though looked pretty good. This time I remembered to shoot my shots in RAW, with the new(to me) camera.


Thank you so much 🐾BillinGlendaleCA, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


One again, to submit pictures: Use the Form or Send an Email

20 replies
  1. 1
    Amir Khalid says:

    I’d really love to know where the AWESOME setting is on BillinGlendaleCA’s camera. He clearly uses it a lot.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    JPL says:

    This is the first time that I heard about Zzyzx, CA. The pictures of the sunsets are amazing and you have such a good eye.

  4. 4

    @Amir Khalid:
    @Baud: Most of the work is done in post. With the Milky Way shots, I shoot 20 to 40 shots and then stack them together using a program called Sequator(only for Windows and it’s free) and then process them in Lightroom and Photoshop(that’s where I put foregrounds and backgrounds together). For the sunset shots, they used a technique called Exposure Bracketing where the camera takes 3 or 5 shots at different exposure times. These shots were combined together using Arurora HDR software.

    As a general note, ALL of my photos that are posted here are available for purchase(they make wonderful gifts) at my website.

  5. 5

    @JPL: We we’ve driven up to Vegas, we’ve noticed the road with the weird name; I just never knew anything was down there until a few months ago. Thanks for your kind words, we’ve seen this location on ‘On the Road’ before, almost 2 years ago.

  6. 6
    Sherparick says:

    Thanks Alain for posting “On the Road…” & BillinGlendale for the magnificent photos. They make a great way to start the day.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:


    Have you ever considered scaling some of them to different monitor resolutions and offering those as computer wallpaper?

  8. 8


    Regarding falling asleep with tablet/phone in hand, you are pretty much describing my life for the past several weeks. . I find it amazing how many buttons can be accidentally pressed by the grip of a sleeping hand. Luckily the worst accident so far was finding the menus for a game I had been playing were now in Deutch.

    I’m actually looking forward to the colostomy next week that will finally let my backside heal post radiation therapy and allow me a full uninterrupted night’s sleep with significantly less pain.

    Unfortunately, the procedure will have no effect on the wacky autocorrect on my Fire tablet’s default keyboard. Anyone else have to monitor, not corrections to misspelled words, but complete replacement of one correctly spelled word with another? It’s not even like it’s a grammar correction or a “are you sure you you didn’t mean?” suggestion.

  9. 9
    Rob says:

    The sunset photos are really really pretty!

  10. 10

    @NotMax: Yes, that’s also available at BillinGlendaleCA.com.

  11. 11

    @Sherparick: Glad ya like em.

    @Rob: Thanks, I was trying to get the sun at it’s regular size and not a big white blob. That’s why I was using exposure bracketing, so I wouldn’t crush the highlights of the sun. The sunrays are natural and turned to be a nice addition to the shot.

  12. 12
    mad citizen says:

    All are awesome as usual, the sunset one is my favorite of this bunch. I’ve been to Joshua Tree once for a brief time, it is so different with those plants around (not actually trees if I have that right).

  13. 13

    @mad citizen: I shot quite a few sunset pictures, I had a bit of a problem with flares unless I centered the shot right on the sun. Per Wikipedia they’re trees, but in the yucca family.

  14. 14
    Albatrossity says:

    I’ve been to the Zzyzx research station. It’s a good spot for birding as well as for dark skies.

    Nice images!

  15. 15
    Betty says:

    @FRANK MCCORMICK: Good luck with your healing process. Sleep is an important part of it. Great pictures as usual.

  16. 16
    Steve in the ATL says:

    Here you see the galactic center of the Milky Way over the CSU Desert Research Center

    That’s odd—I’ve always been told that the center of the universe is lower Manhattan.

    I suppose that’s my fault for being friends with some Wall Street people.

  17. 17
    J R in WV says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    The center of the Universe and the center of the Milky Way are not the same thing!


    I dropped my Android tablet the other evening, while “reading” I fell asleep in my chair, the clatter woke me up, so I could move to the bed where falling asleep with the tablet is less potentially dangerous. No noise, also.

    Best wishes on your recovery, sleep will help. I have learned that more sleep is always a good thing. I always did like sleep, and am grateful for any good 3 or 4 hour chunk of it I can get. Also learned that 2 – 4hour chunks makes a fair night’s sleep, or even 3 – 3 hour chunks.

  18. 18
    StringOnAStick says:

    @FRANK MCCORMICK: The Kindle autocorrect feature annoys the crap out of me too, especially when it decides to change an entire word and usually does so after I’ve moved on to the next sentence. My PC let’s me do what I want as far as humor goes but the Kindle grammar policing is quite aggressive. TL;DR you are not alone!

  19. 19

    @Albatrossity: Thanks, since there’s year round water there, the birds would like it. We saw some wildlife on the drive out, some rabbits and a fox.

    @Betty: Thanks.

    @Steve in the ATL: I thought you hung out with union thugs.

  20. 20

    @J R in WV:

    The center of the Universe and the center of the Milky Way are not the same thing!

    This is true. At the center of the galaxy is a supermasive black hole know as sgrA*(sgrAstar and zzyzx are jackals).

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