Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Desert Hideout

  The sweltering, summer sun beat down on the desert floor. The sharp and jagged rocks radiated the heat causing a strange shimmering distortion of the air above them to remind any passer by that had the misfortune of finding themselves lost in the area. These harsh conditions were no place for man nor beast. Despite nature's warnings a few desperate men would ignore the warnings and take refuge in these rocks in 1873-1874.
  There were no homes in the area like there are today, of course. There wasn't much but rattlesnakes and lizards really. This made for a perfect hideout for someone who didn't want to be found, like an outlaw. Tiburcio Vasquez and a few of his gang members took refuge in the rocks now known as Vasquez Rocks to hide from pursuing posses. The men had robbed a stage and stolen horses among other crimes and in the end they would pay for it. The rocks couldn't hide them forever. Vasquez would hang for his crimes in 1875.
  Today, though, there are plenty of houses that surround Vasquez Rocks and a busy freeway just a couple of miles away, hardly a place for criminals on the lamb. Today the rocks make a great place to spend an afternoon hiking and picnicking. We spent about an hour and a half hiking around and watching the people climb around on the sandstone. There are a few organized hiking trails that can be enjoyed but overall it's kind of like a large, natural playground for those of all ages. In fact the unique rock features and the convenient location near Los Angeles captured the attention of Hollywood. Vasquez Rocks have been the backdrop to countless feature films and televisions shows since the 1930's.
  The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The Outer Limits, and Bonanza are a few of the well known early shows filmed here. The rocks became famous thanks to a little show called Star Trek, though. Captain Kirk battled an odd looking alien called a Gorn in front of these extraterrestrial looking rocks placing Vasquez Rocks on the map. In fact Vasquez Rocks would be featured in Star Trek V and the JJ Abrams reboot of the franchise in 2009. The list of shows filmed here are too lengthy to list here but now that I've seen them in person it will be fun to keep an eye open for them as I watch movies and television shows. 
  Vasquez Rocks is located off of Highway 14 in Agua Dulce, CA and are part of the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department. There is no entry fee to visit but they do shut and lock the gates each night. The hours vary depending on the time of year but as a general rule it's around sundown. So if you're in the mood for a little movie history and some exercise this is the ideal place to visit especially if you don't have a lot of time. You can see it all in an hour if you want or you can take your time to explore. It's really up to you.


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