Roses Not Always Red

With Valentine’s Day coming, I was reminded of roses and found these in a photo set from a trip to Canada. Roses are not always red, but red roses are by far the most popular. I photographed these flowers in Vancouver Canada while walking in Stanley Park.

red rosesRed Roses

While reds are beautiful and popular, I love roses in other colors as well. There were quite a few varieties growing in the park, a place I’d recommend a visit to. Unlike the grueling Grouse Grind, hiking Stanley Park can be peaceful and quite enjoyable.

lilac purple roseLilac Purple Rose & Rosebuds

The purple (lilac purple perhaps?) roses looked and smelled terrific. The rose gardens inside the park are well maintained and there’s an abundance of plants and wildlife to photograph.

pink rosePink Rose

The pink rose was one of my favorites. Walking the parks of Vancouver is nothing like hiking the deserts of Southern California, but desert wildflowers are still my favorites. Happy Valentine’s!

Faces of PubCon Las Vegas 2011

As has become tradition for me, I walked the halls and session rooms of PubCon Las Vegas 2011 with my camera, seeking to capture faces of the SEO/Search industry. Here’s a selection of those photos along with a story behind the faces.

PubCon 2011 Faces PhotoFaces of PubCon 2011

There’s 42 faces in the photo above, a small but notable selection of people that dedicate their days (and many nights) to the industry of search. One of the first photos I took after arriving in Las Vegas was of Neil Marshall (engine) and Amanda Randall, two of the many people that work to make PubCon happen.

neil marshall amanda randallNeil Marshall and Amanda Randall of PubCon and WebmasterWorld

Another one of the many people that work to make PubCon a successful event is technology writer and accomplished long-distance runner Lane Ellis. Lane is the lead editor for PubCon/WebmasterWorld, and every time I’ve spotted him at PubCon, he’s been smiling.

lane ellis pubcon 2011Lane Ellis at PubCon 2011

Unintentionally, I’ve noticed a pattern of taking photographs of people I’ve gotten to know over the years, although I seek to get fresh new faces as well, without appearing like a creepy paparazzi photographer. Kate Morris was in my 2010 PubCon Las Vegas photo post, and 2009 PubCon Las Vegas photo post, and here she is again, simply because she’s pretty awesome.

Kate Morris Las Vegas 2011Kate Morris at PubCon Las Vegas 2011

Kate was one of the people seated at my table for the Tuesday night Raven Tools PubCon Poker Tournament at the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel. It was a great event, and something I hope they make a yearly tradition out of. Also seated at the table, was Joanna Lord of SEOmoz, another individual that’s been no stranger to my SEO photo posts.

Joanna Lord Playing PokerJoanna Lord at Poker Table during PubCon Las Vegas 2011

Come to think of it, Joanna is also a long-distance runner, Kate is a long-distance runner, and I already mentioned that Lane is a long-distance runner. Maybe next time in Vegas, we should all meet up at 5 AM and run the strip. #TeamSEO

Danny Sullivan Search Engine LandDanny Sullivan of Search Engine Land

As far as I know, Danny Sullivan is not a runner, he prefers rollerblading the Balboa Boardwalk into the Southern California sunset. Danny was one of the many search journalists occupying the two center front rows for the Wednesday morning PubCon keynote featuring Matt Cutts, distinguished software engineer from Google.

Nakul Goyal PubCon 2011Nakul Goyal Has the Microphone at PubCon 2011

Year after year, there is always someone that asks a question during a keynote or widely attended session, that gets the entire audience chuckling. Nakul Goyal receives the honor for this year’s keynote question that will go down in PubCon history. It never hurts to ask eh?

Matt Cutts Distinguished Software EngineerMatt Cutts – Distinguished Software Engineer at Google

Matt Cutts did not forget to shave for the event, he’s been growing a goatee during the month of Movember, in support of changing the face of men’s health. Besides answering questions during his keynote presentation, Matt talked about SEO in 2011, with a focus on low-quality sites (Panda) and what he felt were long-term SEO trends. Mobile, social, local search, and an increase in personal search, were among those trends he discussed.

Michelle Lowery and Lisa BaroneMichelle Lowery and Lisa Barone at PubCon Las Vegas

A search engine conference isn’t complete without Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media live blogging sessions. While she’d rather be eating chocolate sprinkled cupcakes and enjoying a Sam Adams, she (and the rest of the OSM team) dedicates a significant amount of time to educating the search community, and keeping the rest of us up to date with what’s going on in the world of SEO.

Bruce ClayLegendary SEO Bruce Clay

To my knowledge, Bruce Clay is the father of the first SEO infographic. How many people remember the Bruce Clay Search Engine Chart from the 1990s? I had that graphic printed and posted on the wall in my office, reminding me that I’ve been studying search engines myself, longer than I oftentimes admit. It’s been a privilege to moderate sessions featuring Bruce Clay the past few years now, and if you’re ever at an event where he’s presenting, be sure to attend. He provides a wealth of knowledge.

Tim MayerTim Mayer at PubCon Las Vegas

Also providing an abundance of knowledge is fellow NFL fan, Tim Mayer. Tim has been a Keynote Speaker at previous Las Vegas PubCon events, and he’s been participating as an attendee and panelist since 2002.

Neil Frank RobertNeil Marshall, Frank Bauer, and Robert Charlton

For me, the best thing about PubCon continues to be the wealth of Webmastery information available. While many people may be interested in the latest trending topics, opportunities to speak to experts such as Neil Marshall, Frank Bauer, or Robert Charlton, on topics like htaccess, Perl programming, or enterprise-level site architecture abound. There is an atmosphere of sharing, so never waste the opportunity to ask for assistance.

Coding Genius Dax HerreraCoding Genius Dax Herrera

Working his magic for online marketing company BlueGlass, Dax Herrera drops loads of knowledge every time I’ve heard him speak at an Internet conference. Enterprise-level analytics management, analytics APIs, and the unexpected consequences of iterative software design are topics you’ll likely hear Dax talk about.

Brendan O'Connell and Amit SinghalPubCon attendee Brendan O’Connell and Google Fellow Amit Singhal

Wednesday morning’s keynote by Google’s Matt Cutts also featured a very welcomed visit from the head of Google’s core ranking team, Amit Singhal. According to Cutts, Singhal has the entire Google search algorithm in his head. He’s authored numerous search related publications and has one of the few sites I’ve seen outrank a Wikipedia page with a .info domain.

Many more photos can be viewed in my PubCon 2011 Las Vegas set on Flickr, along with the 2011 Austin set, and the 2010 Las Vegas set. I look forward to seeing those of you at PubCon Paradise in Honolulu on Valentine’s Day 2012, where I’ll be speaking on local search rankings, mobile search, and social. I’ve been told these are SEO Trends we may want to pay attention to.

1873 Los Angeles City Saloon Advertisement

Recently while doing business listing research on the city of Los Angeles, I got the opportunity to view and photograph a rare advertisement from the 1873 Los Angeles City and County Directory. The ad is for a saloon owned by historical Los Angeles figure Henry Dockweiler (aka Heinrich Dockweiler).

The 1915 Los Angeles City Directory (and the 1916 directory) had advertisements for locally brewed and bottled beer by the Los Angeles Brewing Company, but I don’t recall any advertisements for local saloons. Check out this advertisement for Henry Dockweiler’s Mammoth Lager Beer Saloon, which was located under Temple Bank, in downtown Los Angeles.

Henry Dockweilers Saloon Los AngelesNo Killing at 300 yards here.

The above 1873 saloon advertisement was 42 years prior to the ads I saw for beer in Los Angeles in 1915. Dockweiler’s saloon served cool lager, wines, liquors and cigars. The word to the wise is most interesting. There would be no killing at 300 yards from the saloon’s central downtown location on the corner of Spring Street and Main Street in Los Angeles.

Blue Cut Fault Pushawalla Loop

One of 51 earthquake fault lines in Southern California, the Blue Cut fault extends for about 50 miles through the Little San Bernardino Mountains, under Pleasant Valley, and into the Pinto Basin. Most of the 50 mile length exists within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP), one of my favorite desert hiking environments.

Note: This is not a guide to Hiking the Blue Cut Fault, it’s more an October day photo journey through the region.

In the mid 1800s, there was a wagon mule trail that traversed through the area, providing passageway for miners transporting gold and mining equipment to and from railroads (in the Coachella Valley region) to the Lost Horse Mountains, the Hexie Mountains, and other nearby mining sites.

Pushawalla Blue Cut Fault LoopPushawalla Canyon Blue Cut Fault Loop

I’ve hiked Pushawalla Canyon (see photos) numerous times over the years, but this was my first time along the Blue Cut fault line and wash loop. The location is extremely remote (4×4 high clearance vehicle strongly recommended for access to dirt pullout area) and fairly good navigational skills are required if you’re planning on hiking the region. Other than a sign marked “Wilderness Boundary” near the pushawalla trailhead, there are no signs or markers (other than a few rock cairns) in the region.

ovis canadensis desert bighorn sheep scat(Ovis canadensis) Desert Bighorn Sheep scat

Inside the pushawalla region, it’s a Day Use Only area, created to allow wildlife (such as the endangered Desert Bighorn Sheep) to reach scarce water resources without interruption by humans. I arrived at the trail head just before sunrise, and while inside my Jeep packing peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (and some turkey jerky) into my pack, a group of coyotes approached, and made their presence known (Sorry, no photos. Was still dark and I prefer not to disturb their activities).

water pinyon wellWater at Pinyon Well site

When available, wildlife utilizes the water sources at the Pinyon Well site, a historic mining and milling area first developed in the 1800s. On this visit there was lots of evidence of animal activity in the area, and I could again hear coyotes barking nearby as I explored this former mining site. Nature has long reclaimed nearly all evidence of human use of the area, but there are several interesting milling and mining remnants (several not on maps) to be discovered on the surrounding hillsides.

bighorn sheep carcassBighorn Sheep Remains near Pinyon Well

The remains of a big horn sheep are a reminder that coyotes are not the only predators in the area. While I’ve yet to encounter a mountain lion in Joshua Tree National Park, I’ve come across the remains of at least a half dozen desert big horn sheep while on hikes in the Pushawalla area. I’ve kicked up more bones in this region than any other in JTNP. While different from the nearby Eagle mountains, it’s still an unforgiving environment.

green hummingbird joshua treeGreen Hummingbird in Desert

Near one of the open wells, this green hummingbird paused long enough so that I could take its photograph. Other than birds, coyotes and jackrabbits, I saw very little wildlife during the day I did this hike. Even though the early October weather was perfect for animal activity, it wasn’t my lucky wildlife day. During this trek, I took mostly photographs of things that don’t move too quickly (like rocks).

pushawalla asphalt roadAncient Asphalt Road along Pushawalla Trail

It would be easy to miss it, but the above photograph identifies the remains of an asphalt section of road that was built along the pushawalla trail. Once upon a time there was Jeep access to this area (it’s long been closed to vehicle and bicycle traffic) and before that, mule pulled wagons worked their way to the top of the Pushawalla Plateau and into the canyon that leads to what is now Indio Hills.

pushawalla plateauPushawalla Plateau Vehicle Gate

Near the top of Pushawalla Plateau are a series of iron pipes cemented into the ground and roped off in cable (here is another view), which was likely installed several years ago to prevent vehicle travel through the canyon. There are some amazing views to be seen from this point, and there’s several well hidden and quite historical mine sites close by. To my knowledge, a few abandoned mine shafts remain open and pose potential life-threatening risks, stay out and stay alive.

pushawalla canyon minesPushawalla Canyon Mine seen on Hillside

When you’re eyes are trained for spotting mine tailings (oftentimes areas of grayish color pulverized rock), you begin to see evidence of them on several mountainsides in this region. Veins of white quartz can be spotted along some of these hillsides as well, but they’re not as easy to see from a distance as mine tailing piles. I think old-time miners left behind sardine tins and other trash, just so we could more easily locate their historic sites of gold and silver glory.

white quartz vein joshua treeWhite Quartz Vein Joshua Tree National Park

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I haven’t many times thought about stumbling across a chunk of gold while hiking Southern California deserts, inspired by a story about a miner that one supposedly found a gold nugget the size of his fist, on nearby lost horse mountain. It was on the surface among the rocks. Thanks to the terrain, you can’t just leisurely walk around this area looking for gold nuggets without the risk of being stabbed numerous times in the process (by a cholla).

Silver Cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa)Silver Cholla Cactus (Opuntia echinocarpa)

There are few Joshua trees across the blue cut landscape, but the silver cholla cactus (Opuntia echinocarpa) is abundant, and the spines can be sharp as daggers. Sometimes worse than the live ones (like shown above), are the millions of needle sharp spines from dead cactus, lying on the ground and waiting to puncture the flesh at your ankles. Even the most innocent appearing desert plants can be sharp enough to cut into our clothing and/or skin.

joshua tree nutsSimilar in Appearance to an Acorn

Plant eating wildlife in the region appears to find plenty to provide themselves with nourishment. Although rainfall is infrequent in the region, both plants and animals have learned to adapt to the harsh environment. Temperature before sunrise on the day of my trip dropped to 36°F and it was over 86°F when I was leaving the area later in the day. A 40° swing in temperature is not uncommon for these parts.

blue cut weathered rockBlue Cut Fault Weathered Rusty Circles Rock

Rock formations in Joshua Tree are fascinating and some of the rocks along the blue cut fault are estimated to be over 1 1/2 billion years old. Rocks like the one shown above crumbled just by my stepping onto them. Ascending one of the hillsides to get photos of other mountain ranges, I thought the ground would avalanche underneath my feet, if there were strong seismic activity.

Mountain Ranges Joshua TreeSan Jacinto and Little San Bernardino Mountain Ranges

The San Jacinto mountain range can be seen in the left side of the above photo. There are some spectacular hikes to be had on that mountain as well. Much closer (and still mostly within the borders of JTNP) are hills of the Little San Bernardino range. I intended to stop for a break at the nearby rock pile, but moments after laying down my pack, red fire ants had ascended on my gear. while shaking off all my gear, I again heard nearby coyotes curiously making their way towards my location. Time to move.

Blue Cut Wash Joshua TreeBlue Cut Wash Joshua Tree

Once back into the wash, navigation becomes less difficult, but it’s nearly an all uphill 3 miles to the blue cut wash plateau. After already hiking 9 miles, I’m reminded how much I dislike hiking uphill in the sand. Why was it that I decided to hike 16+ miles along an earthquake fault line? The old man didn’t have any answers.

Old Man Prickly Pear CactusOld Man Prickly Pear Cactus

From my experience, there’s far less old man prickly pear cactus (Opuntia erinacea var. erinacea) growing in the region compared to the silver cholla, which was quite abundant throughout my hike. Due to the time of year, there was near zero desert wildflower blooms, but there was still plenty of rock, and lots of brush to make my way through.

Blue Cut Fault RocksBlue Cut Fault Rocks on Mountainside

The blue cut fault is named for the blue granodiorite that is exposed on the mountainside to the southwest and marks the main branch of the fault. On one side the land was uplifted to form steep and straight mountain edges of the Hexie Mountains, and on the other side the land drops to create Pleasant Valley.

Blue Cut Fault WashBlue Cut Fault Wash

The Hexie Mountains are scarred with scattered abandoned mine sites, and there’s some exploring of historical sites that can be done near the Pleasant Valley backcountry board, a good place to park. In the above photo, Joshua trees can be seen growing in the distance, we are entering back into the Mojave Desert region.

Blue Cut Pass PlateauBlue Cut Pass Plateau

Vegetation gets much thicker and greener as I cross the blue cut pass plateau and into Pleasant Valley. Those mountains (coxcomb mountains) far in the distance are still within the boundaries of JTNP. At nearly 800,000 acres, it’s not uncommon to go hours (and sometimes days) without seeing another human being, especially in the more remote regions.

Malapai Hill Joshua TreeMalapai Hill Joshua Tree

Along Geology Tour Road is Malapai Hill. It’s not that difficult to hike to and the area is quite significant archaeologically. The double humped hill was the result of volcanic activity in the area, with piles of monzogranite and basalt talus occurring on the mountain’s steep slopes. The hill is also my marker that I’m only a couple miles away from my Jeep Rubicon, and lunchtime is near.

Happy Birthday Mylar BalloonHappy Birthday Mylar Balloon

Is it your birthday? It is a good day when I can hike nearly 18 miles in desert wilderness and only come across a single piece of trash (now properly disposed of), aside from the rusted tin cans and other historical artifacts left behind from area mining days. This is never a place I’d recommend someone hike for pleasure, it’s moderately strenuous and the hazards are numerous, but the solitude makes it worth the journey for me.

Blue Cut Pushawalla TopoBlue Cut Pushawalla Topo Map

Pinyon Well, prospects, ruins, and an old guzzler site can be seen on the topo map above. Us USGS Malapai Hill, Calif. map for the region and don’t feed the coyotes.

Drunken Batman Spotted on Las Vegas Strip

Taking photos in Las Vegas: is that a drunken batman in the background? While walking along the Las Vegas Strip I spotted this local wearing a not so welcoming t-shirt and enjoying a 24oz Pabst Blue Ribbon. It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed someone else was in this photo. Take a look.

Pabst Blue Ribbon on Las Vegas Stripaka Welcome to Las Vegas

Not the most friendly t-shirt but I thought it was funny so I asked permission to take this guys picture. What I didn’t see was the man in tights leaning against the railing while polishing off what was likely an alcoholic beverage left behind by a passing tourist. Holy Uggs Batman!

wtf batman las vegasWTF Batman? That’s just plain ugly.

Walking the Las Vegas Strip (and even from the airport) you sometimes see the oddest things, but this photo’s got me checking others to see what I may have missed.