A Little Pool in the Desert

No, not THAT kind of pool, the kind with green felt and a bunch of little round balls and multiple pockets for them… that kind of pool.  It turns out that at the site of a long ago abandoned station on a long ago abandoned railroad line in the Anza Borrego desert, is a pool table complete with cues, balls, rack, and questions galore.

 My friend Cynthia had spotted it a week or so earlier and thought we needed to go there and do some photos.  She wanted to have me put on some of my western gear for a shot.  My old and dear friend from back in my college days, Brooke Medicine Eagle, is in the area for a few weeks so she also agreed to put on some of her traditional garb and we decided to do a Cowboy and Indian shoot… sort of a “how the west was lost” kind of surreal and metaphorical shot.

 On the way we stopped in Jacumba Hot Springs for lunch and I introduced Cynthia to the old railroad cars parked there.  Well, of course we had to do some shots there and she produced some really cool shots that I want to share with you.  She did a really mind-bending shot of Brooke in one of the old abandoned cars…

Brooke Train (1 of 1) for blog

Brooke in one of the old train cars near Jacumba Hot Springs. (c) Cynthia Sinclair, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

 I’m sorry but the only other model available was me so I grabbed some gear and she also did one of me in the doorway to one of the cars.  I admit I like it.  

David Train sepia 01 for web

Well here’s an crusty old cowpoke in the door to one of the abandoned railroad cars near Jacumba Hot Springs.  Photo (c) Cynthia Sinclair, used by permission.

 We went from there to Ocotillo Wells and then off road to the site of the old station. On the way we drove through the vast wind farm and its giant mills.  As impressive as they are at a distance they are even more so up close.

wind farm

Wind Farm near Ocotillo Wells, Anza Borrego Desert.  (c) N. David King

 When we got to the destination, all that is left is the concrete pad and… the pool table.  So, I got back into character with spurs and smoke pole slung over my shoulder and Brooke got into her buckskins and she and I shot a game of 8-Ball while Cynthia photographed us in this bizarre, outlandish place.

Pool Table raw (1 of 1) for web

Brooke and I at the pool table at the site of the Dos Cabezos railroad station in Anza Borrego.  No, this is NOT faked, this pool table is really sitting here, complete with balls, cues, etc..  Photo (c) by Cynthia Sinclair, All Rights Reserved, Used by Permission.

Cynthia was after some unusual shots based on this “out-there” concept and I think they really succeeded.  So much so I may use one, at the suggestion of a close and evil minded friend, for a final exam requiring students to analyze and interpret it.  He is also a professor and I now shudder to think what his own tests are like.  My students have it easy! 

Speaking of surreal, here is a shot of Brook at the pool table.  And I guess I need to restate it, this (other than the toning) is a straight shot and not composited.

brooke at table for blog

Here’s Brooke in a truly surreal shot.  Photo (c) by Cynthia Sinclair, All Rights Reserved.

While we were around the pool table Cynthia also managed to catch this shot of me that I think is sort of a perfect signature “avatar” for me.  I love the texture and tones in the sepia-like print.


David w hat duotone Cynthia Sinclair for web

Portrait of me shot at the site of the Dos Cabezos Station in Anza Borrego. Photo (c) Cynthia Sinclair, All Rights reserved.  Used by Permission.


 And then it was, alas, back to reality.  Bummer.

 In other news…

 After receiving some great feedback I’m now starting the final draft of the book on Making Schools safer.  I really would like to finish it and have it out to print by the end of the month.  It has required some really dark and grim research into, to borrow Conrad’s phrase, “…the heart of darkness.” And I’ll be very glad to finish it and move on.  But I do think the topic and the need to get beyond narrow ideologies and look for both short and long term solutions is of critical importance to us not just as teachers but as a society.  I’ll let you know when it is available so you can judge for yourself.

 And, I’m also starting to hammer together the video I shot over the Spring Break for LaMont Burns concerning cooking tips and techniques using his bespoke BBQ sauce and marinade.  The next blog post will, I think, discuss the issues surrounding that shoot for you guys getting into video.  It was a most interesting production.







About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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6 Responses to A Little Pool in the Desert

  1. gene wild says:

    Love the pictures and a place I haven’t been–yet.
    I have a feeling your BBQ Sauce shoot was “interesting”.

  2. Gene Wild says:

    Love the pictures—and a place I haven’t been…yet .

    On Tue, Apr 3, 2018 at 10:46 AM, Travels with Rocinante wrote:

    > ndking posted: “No, not THAT kind of pool, the kind with green felt and a > bunch of little round balls and multiple pockets for them… that kind of > pool. It turns out that at the site of a long ago abandoned station on a > long ago abandoned railroad line in the Anza Borreg” >

  3. Don Rowe says:

    Great pics, Cowboy. Like your hat and the lady. Bet those are .44 rounds in your bandolier. Looking forward to your next posts.

  4. Alexandria Swanson says:

    What a great trip and I love the photos. I need to take more courses from you. This is my goal, very inspiring.

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