Sunday, September 21, 2014

Photo Essay: Painted Rocks at Fort Irwin

If you're curious about visiting Fort Irwin and learning about some of its history, your first stop (and, if you don't have much time, your only stop) should be its Painted Rocks monument...



...a pile of military boulders outside the security checkpoint...



...known as "The Rockpile"...



...where squadrons visiting Fort Irwin for training are permitted to paint their insignias...



...in remembrance of how they braved the sun, the wind, the sand, and the heat...



...in this "desert retreat."



They may have started painting these rocks on a lark...



...but now these units have established a tradition...



...carried on by subsequent soldiers who pass though...



...on their way to fight for their country...



...some of whom never come back.



It's a living piece of history...



...ever-evolving...



...feeling something like a folk art work-in-progress (like Salvation Mountain).



Out there...



...in the middle of nowhere...



...30 miles from the nearest somewhere...



...these silent rocks speak of hope and fear...



...love and pride...



...and camaraderie and bravery.



I wonder if they were painted on the battalions' way into training...



...or on the way out, on their way to battle?



Make no mistake: this is no graffiti site. No civilian painting is allowed, and all new rock paintings must be strictly permitted by Ft. Irwin. (This is the military, after all.)

But go and watch the sun rise from behind the rocks, listening to the sonic booms in the distance...

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Photo Essay: Ancient Petroglyphs Secured Inside a Navy Weapons Testing Station