Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Desert Rats

Jacquie's post about her maiden voyage, camping in that Creampuff Westy up in the mountains, got me thinking about our years of Westy camping again.

7½ years on the road, 2½ years off the road? [put arms to the sides, palms up, and pretend to compare weight of both]. . . things are still skewed in Westy's favor.

After seeing all those hats and all those bundled up peeps in Uncle Merv Jacquie's photos, I commented, "Maybe next time you guys should go to the desert?" and Jacquie replied, "Ellie, please note that it is also freezing when the sun goes down in the desert."

Which got me thinking, of course, about our years of Westy camping in the desert again.

When I was a kid, my notion of "desert" meant rolling sand, as far as the eye could see, like movies of the Sahara . . .

. . . and sometimes the desert still does look like that.

Especially here, in the Santa Barbara National Forest, inland in California, in the summer, when all the other, sane people are camping under the Sequoias:

Or at the beach:

But when one is camping alone in the desert -- and one usually is alone, for obvious reasons -- one gets a sense of oneness with the earth (because one is dirty) and of elemental simpleness (because one's ice has melted) that one gets nowhere else.

Plus nights in the desert simply cannot be beat.
We've had years and years of camping in the desert, ol' Westy and ol' Mistah and I . . .
The Santa Barbara National Forest? Which looked so nice from up on high? Well, up close it was kind of a train wreck . . .

 . . . but we didn't care; there was no one around to see it.

Plus it's a real challenge, moving one's perishables around the Westy all day long, trying to cop the one inch of shade that will keep them from burning up. It's fun!

We camped down in Mexico's Baja Peninsula one winter, where it's desert and ocean.

Ligui, 2003
I look back at these photos and think, look where we were! Every day was an adventure, but really, that was part of the daily, expected routine . . .

. . . I mean, even the Federales (who were all about 12) were routine. Except they had to be reminded (by me) to get their armas for a photo-op.

Then there's the Sonoran Desert, in southwest Arizona. Where every cactus looks like where Snoopy's brother Spike hangs out. It's really astounding -- you drive through, the cactus look like that; you drive out, the cactus changes.

I'd add more Saguaro cactus -- I will add more Saguaro cactus, next time -- but today it's all about the Desert and the Westy

And, of course, the gorgeous Chihuahuan (which is really fun to say, if you pronounce your Spanish festively), where our beloved Fort Davis lies:

Oh, Fort Davis.
I wax poetically about Fort Davis whenever I get the chance. And when I'm waxing, I prefer to do so poetically.

Our favorite desert by a mile, though, is the Anza-Borrego. The Anza-Borrego desert is all state park -- California's biggest -- and is actually in San Diego county. It's 100 miles, door-to-door, from there to Jacquie's house. But it feels not only like another county, like another state, like another country, but like another planet.

The stars are astounding, the ocotillo cactus (also called coachwhip, but not by me) is tall and crazy and burning bright on top with red, there isn't a soul for miles . . .

. . . and yet, you can get the San Diego Union-Tribune at the local gas station (12 miles away, but still).

I love meeting peeps when we're On The Road (well, Mistah does, then he introduces them to me, then I love to meet them too), but I love nothing more than camping entirely alone in the desert, watching the stars, listening to the critters, contemplating the universe, feeling completely one with the world . . .

  . . . at least until my ice melts.


Anonymous said...

I'm ready for a road-trip!


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Aw, how loverly! We're thinking about Anzo Borrego for spring break this year.. but it's hard to resist San Elijo.

Love all the Westy shots. Love Westys.


Uncle Merv

Captain Dumbass said...

The last shot reminded me of home, which is a semi-desert region. Yes, even up here. It's nice to go back and visit but I don't miss the summer heat baking my brain inside my skull.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, Jacqie, no desert beats San Elijo. San Elijo rocks my world.

And Captain, that last shot is in Nevada, which *is* near your part of the world.

And Mistah? Get out there and earn some monies, baby. And you're on.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

My vote is that as soon as Mistah earns some monies, you two blissful lovebirds head straight out to the Anza Borrego desert.

And then to San Elijo.

I mean c'mon, don't you want to check out Uncle Merv's creampuff in person?!


Ooh, my word verification word is coamp. Don't cha wanna coamp??

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Jacqie? Who wrote that??

Anonymous said...

All of you girls are absolutely amazing with your stories, photos, etc. I don't know any of you, yet I am transported into your lives with each contemplative sharing of your experiences. So creative!!!