Category Archives: Desert

Sky Aglow

Some pictures of sunrises and sunsets from home and away in response to the Daily Post Photo Challenge:Glow.

The desert

I have spent more time in the Desert than I care to have done. For me this is primarily the Coachella Valley in California which is part of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, a rain shadow desert east of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Although I don’t particularly like the desert, I have been going for over forty years.

My first visit to the desert was in 1972. My grandparents had moved there to work as caretakers for a compound in Thousand Palms, and my family drove down to spend Christmas with them. It was out of my experience to be in a place that was warm in the winter.

The landscape was so very different from our home in the Puget Sound area that it was intriguing. The stark landscape was beautiful and the plants and animals that adapted to the harsh environment fascinated.

Especially the palm trees that popped up seemingly out of nowhere. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend visiting the Thousand Palms Oasis, a preserve run by the Nature Conservancy. Here are some photos that my dad took on that original trip in the area of the Thousand Palms Oasis, it was not a nature preserve at the time.

I don’t hate the desert passionately, but find it unpleasant to be there. My curiosity about it as an environment has been satisfied or fried out of me and “been there, done that”, in most cases more than once, to the local spots of interest.

The area has grown up and there is not as much desert there as there used to be. All the construction feels the same, visit one faux adobe shopping center and you have pretty much seen them all.

I hate that jaded feeling, I pride myself on being able to find interesting things to see and do where ever I go, but the heat, aridity, wind, and that extra large, sharp sand that infiltrates no matter which shoes I wear to cut into my feet really make it hard to keep a good attitude going.

One disturbing reality is that, as the population of the area has skyrocketed and the faux adobe developments have proliferated, the open desert has often been treated as a dump. I wrote a bit about this in my post The Ephemeral, The Eternal & Trash. An example: near where my property was someone (probably someone who had a contract to dispose of the waste from a dog park) had dumped a series of three foot high piles of doggie doo-doo along the edge of a dirt track. As the years pass it is becoming dust in the wind, but I first noticed it something like six years ago and it was still distinguishable last year. You see furniture, tires, sometimes even whole households’ worth of stuff, just dumped. It sits drying out and being sandblasted for a very, very long time before it either blows away or is buried.

Here are some pictures from my trips to the desert since I discovered digital cameras (if you have read this far you need a break, and the desert does have it’s own, rather stark, beauty).

My most recent trip was last month, when I went down with my grandmother to sell the property. My post Was it all a dream? was from that trip, which I meant to be my last trip, but on returning I promised Grandma that I will take her back this winter, if all goes well (she loves it there…or at least the idea of it she formed in her head 40+ years ago).

It was not my first “last trip down”, my post I am on a Journey…, is from another “last trip” to the desert, and My Worst NightmareStyling in Palm Springs-Practical, but not pretty and Nightmare Part 2 are about the trip last August. I was surprised how many of the posts I have written have been about the desert.

I don’t long for my last “last trip” any more, because I realized that it will mean that Grandma is no longer able to travel.


Styling in Palm Springs-Practical, but not pretty

I will spare you a photo of me. Here in Palm Springs it is sunny, and hot. I have been estivating (the spell checker didn’t like the word but it is a real thing), but I decided that I needed to leave my dark, air-conditioned room for at least a little while. So I drove to an indoor parking garage, had lunch and walked a bit.

I was wearing gym shorts, the short ones, and a tank top, I added a khanga (aka leso). This is a very thin piece of cloth , so it blows around and doesn’t heat me up too much while

  • shading my legs from the sun
  • preventing me from sticking to chairs
  • beautifying the world by leaving a little more to the imagination.

I also carried a sun umbrella that I picked up in a supermarket in China last year to provide shade to my upper half while allowing air flow. Add to that my wide brimmed straw hat and…well let’s just say that no one else was quite so…me. Too bad I didn’t have a teenager along to embarrass!

Khanga, sun hat and sun umbrella.
The elements of style.

It was not an elegant coordinated outfit but I managed to walk about 8 to 10 blocks which gave me a break from hiding in a dark room trying to make phone calls on a phone that doesn’t work. I reloaded my cell phone with minutes so now maybe I can get some answers. For all the information available on the internet I find that I need to interact with humans to get specific information surprisingly often.

Any way this thought occurred to me: both the khanga and the sun umbrella are very practical and, if properly coordinated, could be very attractive fashion pieces. Why are there so many pencil skirts and stiletto heels in the world? You can carry your groceries home, or a jerrycan of water, or your child with a khanga. Try doing that with a pencil skirt!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Style Icon.”

Nightmare Part 2

This is a continuation of a previous post, My Worst Nightmare. Above you see the greeting comittee.  It was 112 degrees Fahrenheit, in and out when I arrived at the trailer. Swamp cooler was off because the water had to be shut off at the street to do the repair.

It was all about location. The little crack in that pipe had good water pressure. It caused electric usage to triple and water usage to more than double; the monthly cost of this “little crack” was well over $200. It went on for six weeks.

I guess it was lucky that it happened in the desert in the summer: it is so hot that the moisture damage was minimal, some localized mold mostly on a door warped beyond repair.

I suppose it could be worse: while the phone in my hotel room doesn’t work, the air conditioning does, and it is only supposed to get to 112 degrees F today…so I shouldn’t be such a moaning Myrtle.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”

I am on a Journey…

I am on a journey. I have taken this route many times before, but this time is a bit different: it is likely to be the last time I come to this place. This is not a melancholy thought: I don’t like it here, and my grandmother, the only reason I come here, is moving closer.

It isn’t a crisis. Thank goodness, one of those at a time is quite enough. It is a kind of business trip. Get things packed up and arranged for movers.

As I drove along the 1250 miles between my house and here I thought about all the stops and side trips that I was going to make someday. But I didn’t stop at any of them. The only stops I made were at places I knew. Not in a reminiscing way, but because I knew where to turn and what to expect.

It was a beautiful drive and, at several points, I thought that I wanted to take a picture, but there was no where convenient to pull off at the moment. I did not take a single picture all the way down. No record of this last trip.

After coming here for 44 years I expected to feel more. I recently scanned some photographs that my dad took on the first trip we ever made down here. The desert has changed, the route itself has changed, and so have I.

I wonder what is next?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Journey.”