Author Archives: Russel Ray Photos

About Russel Ray Photos

Forty-five years as a photographer, beginning with yearbook staff in sixth grade.

Plastic bags banned (mostly) in California effective 7-1-15

Did you know?

California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation today that makes California the first state in the nation to ban plastic grocery bags. Interestingly, the news about the legislation says that it will prohibit “large stores” from using the sacks beginning in July 2015. I could find no definition of “large stores,” but the news article states, “The law applies to stores that sell groceries and pharmacies— think Safeway, Target, Walmart, Rite Aid— but not stores that don’t sell those items, like Macy’s.” Hmmm. I think Macy’s qualifies as a “large store.” I’m confused, but government often confuses me, so no big deal there.

Over 120 local California cities and counties currently ban plastic bags. I know the bags are dangerous to our wildlife, but so are the plastic rings that occupy the top of your six packs of canned beer and sodas…. and string…. and rubber bands…. and fishing line…. I don’t see anyone rushing to ban those. Oh, what a tangled web we weave….

Last night, Zoey the Cool Cat had an incident that frightened her, as well as Jim and me. I found a sack stuffed in a cupboard so I put it on the bed for Zoey the Cool Cat to enjoy:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Does she not look happy and satisfied, probably having pleasant dreams of finally catching the mourning doves outside our office window.

I mention the plastic bags because wildlife often get tangled up in them and die. Last night, Zoey the Cool Cat got tangled up in that sack. See the two handles? She got her head through one and couldn’t get out. She took off through the house, trying to get rid of the thing around her neck, frightened and howling. She finally got stuck in a corner where I was able to reach her and get the sack off her neck. It took about 30 minutes of me holding her and talking to her before she calmed down, though. Poor kitty….

I can only imagine what the wildlife outside goes through when they get their necks, feet, and wings caught up in plastic bags, plastic ring tops, fishing line, and string.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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The work of Ricardo Breceda of Borrego Springs CA

Out & About

When I went to Palm Springs in mid-August, one of my goals was to see the statues of prehistoric wildlife in Borrego Springs (see A short visit to Galleta Meadows).

Little did I know then that the guy who created the statues, Ricardo Breceda, lives in Borrego Springs and sells much smaller statues to common people like me.

Following are some of the smaller statues that I found exhibited on properties throughout the area, and some for sale at a business.

Longhorn cow Mountain lion Desert buffalo Desert bighorn sheep Porker grill

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Breceda’s work celebrates the history and culture of Southern California, the desert environment, and pure fantasy.

Breceda originally is from Durango, Mexico. One day he made a dinosaur statue for his daughter, and the rest, as they say, is history. Breceda eventually met Dennis Avery, owner of Galleta Meadows Estates in Borrego Springs.  Avery had the vision of using his land as an enormous outdoor art gallery, and it became home to Breceda’s artwork featuring prehistoric and fantasy creatures.

I now know that there are over 150 of the larger statues scattered throughout the Anza-Borrego desert. I only saw 27 of them. I am trying to find a complete list, and a map of their locations, and when I do…………. ROAD TRIP!

The chase

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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It might be the most beautiful of all time

Picture of the Moment

When I visited La Quinta back on August 12, it was my first time. I drove down two main thoroughfares for many miles, and all I saw were golf resorts, condominium resorts, and monster homes behind huge fences and gates.

They also had the most beautiful and immaculately maintained medians and road sides.

I would not mind being a homeless person over there, although come to think of it, I didn’t see a single homeless person on a street corner asking for food and money. Hmmm. Maybe being homeless is against the city code….

Well, anyway, this was the most beautiful gate I saw, and it might rank as the most beautiful gate I’ve ever seen in my life:

Horsey gate

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (9-29-14)—Tie me kangaroo down sport

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My mother died in 2012 at the age of 81. I had only seen her twice since my wise old grandmother adopted me in 1965.

The last time was in the late 1990s at a Mardi Gras party at my sister’s house in Slidell, Louisiana.

We got into a discussion of music, and that’s when she told me that I was a singer at a very young age.

Apparently I liked to lay on the floorboard in the back of the car and sing along with whatever was playing on the radio, or beg mom and dad to play certain records at home so I could sing along.

She could remember the names of only four songs that I loved singing along to, and here they are:

“I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash, 1956

“The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant, 1956

“Tom Dooley” by The Kingston Trio, 1958

“Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport” by Rolf Harris, 1963

I was only one in 1956, and three in 1958, so those probably are records that mom and dad had at home.

Those last two are pretty gruesome songs for a young boy to be singing….

By 1963, age 8, yeah, I probably was singing everywhere since I was in the school chorus at that time.

I sang in school choruses through twelfth grade, and then joined the Century Singers at Texas A&M University. After college I sang in the Chancel Choirs at whatever church I was attending, as well as community choruses.

When I came to San Diego in 1993, I joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego. Since then I also have sang with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (at the time it was the largest Gay Men’s Chorus in the world with over 350 men) and then back with the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Not a roadside memorial

Picture of the Moment

It’s common to see memorials along roadsides where someone has died, usually from an accident involving bicyclists, motorcycles, cars, and trucks.

When I was out in the Southern California high desert near Borrego Springs traipsing around looking at sculptures of prehistoric wildlife (see previous post), I found a memorial that was quite a distance from any road.

Desert memorial

There was no name on the marker but the dates indicated that the person was just 21 years and 3 days old. RIP, whoever you are.

My thinking in that regard is that the person probably was coming from Mexico to try to make a better life in the United States. The area in the high desert near Borrego Springs and Palm Springs is known as an entry point for Mexican nationals attempting to make their way into the United States for work. Unfortunately, it can get extremely hot in the desert, and without water and appropriate protection, deaths from exposure, even at night, are way too common.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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A short visit to Galleta Meadows in Borrego Springs, California

Out & About

On my 476-mile journey through Southern California on August 12, I had several goals. While seeing three friends in three cities distant from each other was high on the list, seeing the collection of life-size prehistoric creatures out in the desert was #1 on my list:

Prehistoric elephants in Borrego Springs, California

Those three mammoths are part of Galleta Meadows.

Galleta Meadows

Millions of years ago the desert was a lush jungle and home to all sorts of strange animals: Mammoths; saber-toothed cats (often wrongly called saber-toothed tigers); huge birds; prehistoric horses, pigs, and dogs; sloths; camels….

Mammoths

Wild pig

Galleta Meadows was created by Dennis Avery (1940-2012), one of Southern California’s great philanthropists who lived in Borrego Springs and owned various parcels of land around the community. I’ll have more about Avery in an upcoming post because I just found out that a place I visited a couple of years ago was founded by Avery.

Raptor

Bird and prey

Desert birds

The steel-welded sculptures were created by Ricardo Breceda, creator of Perris Jurassic Park that rises alongside Interstate 215 in Perris, about 90 miles away. Breceda moved his sculpture and welding enterprise to Borrego Springs in December 2013.

Wild horses

Known as “The Sky Art Project,” it started in 2008, originally intending to feature species which once lived, or still live, in the area. After a while, other animals, some of them imaginary, joined the collection, as well as sculptures of people relevant to its history, such as a gold miner, a Spanish padre, and Native Americans.

Wild horse and foal

I did not know the name of the collection before heading out to Borrego Springs, only that it existed. I came home with what I thought was a lot of pictures (27) and only now found out that there are about 150 sculptures scattered throughout the desert community surrounding Borrego Springs. This, of course, means that another trip is required….

Fighting horses

Wild horse

It took me a couple of hours to explore the sculptures I found, and I was only able to do that because you’re allowed to drive from sculpture to sculpture. Trust me, you don’t want to walk in the sand in that heat.

In a few areas, though, driving means four wheel driving. I nearly got stuck in a couple of places and gave up when the going got tough….

Horses fighting

Wild horses in the desert

Sculptures that I missed this first trip include prehistoric dogs, Gymphotheriums, dinosaurs, and a 350-foot long sea serpent—that’s longer than a football field!

Borrego Springs is a dark sky community, meaning that it is sufficiently clear of light pollution to allow for naked-eye astronomy. I have seen some pictures of these desert sculptures taken at dusk and at night—long exposures—and the effect is awesome. I might have to make an overnight trip to Borrego Springs.

Prehistoric horse

Sabre-toothed cat

Sabre-toothed cat

Cat fight

Borrego Springs location

See location on Google Maps

There are several routes to Borrego Springs. Take the route I’ve highlighted on the map above because it will take you through Cuyamaca State Park and by Lake Cuyamaca, as well as through Julian, home of the world’s best apple pies—my favorites are the apple/peach crumb and the apple/cherry crumb.

Sabre-toothed cat

The chase

In the clutches

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Dust storm in the Southern California high desert

Picture of the Moment

When I was growing up in South Texas, dust storms were as common as the heat, humidity, and hurricanes.

Here in San Diego, not so much.

However, over in the Southern California high desert one can catch dust storms if you’re lucky.

Here’s one near the Salton Sea:

Dust storm in the Southern California high desert near Borrego Springs

The high desert is an important agricultural region in Southern California. With its Mediterranean climate and rich soils, all it needs is a steady source of water, and the many irrigation canals and reservoirs are usually able to supply it. The three-year drought that Southern California is suffering is, however, affecting the agriculture industry.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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