Bombing Range Camping Trip

Josh, Kari, and Mark (the other Mark) look through the wreckage of an old fighter plane.

Every year around the end of the fall semester, the Arizona State University photography graduate students head out to the desert for a camping weekend. This weekend their fearless leader Mark Klett took us to the western end of the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range, in southwest Arizona, where we had fun driving Kari’s old Ford Escape through some challenging (for me) off-road terrain.

Kari's Ford Escape, loaded up with Taylor, Lira, Kari, and me, ready to hit the desert!

Kari’s Ford Escape, loaded up with Taylor, Lira, Kari, and me, ready to hit the desert!

Once we got onto the range itself, we stopped by some tanks for a lunch break, then checked out the wreckage of a fighter plane (F4?) from long ago.

Josh, Kari, and Mark (the other Mark) look through the wreckage of an old fighter plane.

Josh, Kari, and Mark (the other Mark) look through the wreckage of an old fighter plane.

Once we made it to the camp site, somewhere in the shadow of mountains south of Tacna, everyone in the group – being photographers – dispersed and did what photographers do, make photographs!

Being a bombing and general military training range, there are all sorts of strange things laying around the desert. In addition to the tanks and the crashed fighter jet, we found 50-caliber and 20mm shell casings, bomb and rocket parts, and all sorts of other things.

Kari frames me by looking through the metal braces that connect 50-caliber shell casings.

Kari frames me by looking through the metal braces that connect 50-caliber shell casings.

Mark has a tradition when he goes camping with folks. First he makes a stick out of things he has collected. Then, before going to bed at night he plants the stick in the ground and draws a circle around it in the sand. Everyone finds an object of their own and places it somewhere on that circle where they think the stick’s shadow will fall once the sun rises. Whoever is closest wins. Mark usually wins.

Mark works on carving his Sunrise Stick.

Mark works on carving his Sunrise Stick.

We did it - we survived a night camping!

We did it – we survived a night camping!

The sun hasn’t quite gotten high enough for the Sunrise Stick to cast a shadow, but since this view looks southeast (i.e., the sun is moving to the right) it isn’t looking good for those of us on the right side of the circle.

This photo is from a few minutes after the Sunrise Stick cast a shadow very close to the shell casing Mark used to claim his spot. My marker wasn’t the most off, but it was close.

After sunrise photography and Sunrise Stick observations, we had breakfast and headed off to explore more of the desert.

After stopping for lunch we went about as far south as you can get, with a visit to a portion of the fence along the border with Mexico.

Mexico, as seen through the border fence.

Mexico, as seen through the border fence.

Many different things leave tracks in the sand near the border fence. Bella (the dog) has a hard time walking and sometimes drags her hind leg.

Many different things leave tracks in the sand near the border fence. Bella (the dog) has a hard time walking and sometimes drags her hind leg.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *