Flying back from the east coast last week, I had finished my novel and didn’t have much to do for the last forty minutes of my journey. Looking out the window, I saw this volcano-looking geographic feature:

As we flew along, I tried to keep track of nearby landmarks, with the aim of retracing my flight and identifying the strange black rock.

Sure enough, I was able to track it down, right smack dab in the middle of Marine Corps Air/Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California—just north of Joshua Tree.

MCAGCC Twentynine Palms is, apparently, where many of the Marines deployed to Iraq went for final desert training. I had hoped to find a way to visit this lava flow, but as far as I can tell it’s pretty off-limits to civillians and surrounded by spent munitions.


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