mojave calling

While Hashi put up the tent, K got the fire going

Our beautiful campsite

Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Hole-in-the-Wall Rings Trail

Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris)

Untitled

Hedgehog cactus

Untitled

Banshee Canyon

It’s becoming an April tradition, the birthday camping trip. Last year we went to Los Padres National Forest. The year before to Death Valley. This time, we went to Mojave (Mo-hah-vee, for you Australians) National Preserve and camped at Hole-in-the-Wall.

Ah, desert. I love its muted tones and barren vistas and surprising splashes of colour. It whispers ancient secrets that I cannot quite understand, but that I want to slow down and strain to hear. Despite the dust, it leaves me feeling cleansed in some way. It is the opposite of frenetic and riotous, the opposite of Los Angeles. There is no hurrying to be done in the desert.

We had such a lovely time. Except for when the wind got fierce in the night, and our tent became a flapping flailing beast for hours on end, and The Guy resorted to sleeping in the car. THAT part wasn’t fun. But the rest, the hiking and exploring and cooking and staring at the fire. Yep, that was all perfect, and exactly right for a birthday trip. I’m a happy girl.

camping

Desert globemallow

Charcoal kilns

Sierra Woolly Indian Paintbrush

The road to Thorndike campground

Shooting wildflowers

Kettle's on!

Mmmmm, breakfast!

Desert iguana

Trying to persuade Bodie to join me

Sycamore Trees

So much beauty. So much fun. So many cool places to return to. So many side roads yet to explore.

I fell in love with the planet all over again. And with the company.

preparing

going camping!

Me + guy + dog are going camping this weekend! We’re off to Death Valley, with loose plans to check out some of the many ghost towns in the vicinity. And cook delicious meals over open fires. And sing a lot of songs.

I can’t wait.

[My close friends (I’m looking at you, Lola & sister) will recognize my scrappy picnic blanket, now getting pretty bedraggled, but still much-loved.]

where the river meets the desert

Colorado River, Picacho SRA

#full #moon rising over #colorado #river #picacho #camping

#colorado #river #sunset #picacho #camping

Feral burros
Feral burros

raccoons

grasshopper

North of Yuma, east of Salton Sea, Picacho State Recreation Area comprises miles of desert desolation along the beautiful Colorado River.

When David emailed me a while ago saying he’d be in Phoenix for a wedding, and suggesting some wilderness exploration, I picked Picacho as our destination. (And marveled that we’d see each other three times in five months. Which is probably more than we had in the previous ten years.)

It was a great choice. The weather was perfect and the campground empty. Of the 54 campsites, only 2 were occupied, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Well, except for the raccoons.

the desert is so strangely beautiful

It felt so good to unplug, unwind, hike, swim, and cook over an open fire. I heart camping. I just need a better sleeping pad.

desert break

20121027-134421.jpg

I’m heading to the desert for some camping and exploration. Back soon!

i saw the perseids!

Click for source.

I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, ‘go somewhere very dark and watch a meteor shower’ would be on it.

These clouds do not bode well for meteor viewing

Driving out to the desert, the signs weren’t good. A severe storm darkened the skies. The nice thing about the rain was that the temperature dropped (from 111°F/44°C to 96°F/36°C), but there’d be no stars if the night sky was cloudy.

I rendezvoused up with my Meetup peeps at the Starbucks in Yucca Valley, and we caravanned out to Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree National Park, where we set up camp then went for a walk in the remaining light.

Lizard

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

Sunset over Joshua Tree

Over a shared meal in the gathering dark, we marvelled at the comfortable temperature and the mostly-cloudless sky. Pads and pillows were dragged from tents, and soon we were all stretched out on the rocks, watching the show.

The Perseids did not disappoint. What can I tell you? It was magic. After an hour, and about 50 meteors, I declared, “OK, now I can die happy.”

I fell asleep long before the parade of light was done. But that was fine; I was sated.

Sunrise, Joshua Tree

This morning I rose with the sun and struck camp; I had to be back home by 10.

Sunrise, Joshua Tree

Sunrise, Joshua Tree

There was time for a little wander, and a few sunrise shots, before hitting the road.

I’m going to say it again: I want to return to Joshua Tree soon and often. Even if there are no meteors: just to see the stars.

And I’m going to save up for a lens with which to shoot them.

My life? I love it.

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