Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Water diversion and the navel of the world

I was feeling a little cabin feverish yesterday, even after walking for a couple of miles. I needed a new vista. So I drove to Arivaca Lake.

Its main attraction is fishing, either from boats or the shore. There’s a little room for camping, but I didn’t stay. I poked around on the fishermen’s trails for a while, had lunch, then headed back to the refuge.

Since my transportation is also my home, I can move camp on a whim. The green map showed a couple of campsites on the west side of the highway, much closer to Baboquivari Peak. Maybe they were vacant. One of them was. So here I am now.

Baboquivari Peak is the most sacred place to the Tohono O’odham people. It is the center of the Tohono O’odham cosmology and the home of the creator, I’itoi. According to tribal legend, he resides in a cave below the base of the mountain. 
This mountain is regarded by the O’odham nation as the navel of the world — a place where the earth opened and the people emerged after the great flood. (Wikipedia)

Monday, March 30, 2020

A long shortcut

State Highway 286 runs along the west side of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Arivaca-Sasabe Road bisects it east to west (or west to east, if you prefer).

There’s a network of dirt roads within the refuge. Some of them are well maintained, some are just parallel tracks through the grass and between the trees. The roads are marked with numbered stakes at the junctions. However, the map provided at the information kiosk doesn’t show the numbers.

My ability to read and interpret maps and apply them to my actual surroundings is passable. And my sense of north-south-east-west is good. At least when the sun is up. Or there are landmarks.

My general mental picture of the roads in the northern half of the refuge (where I am camped) is of some north-south roads intersected by some east-west roads, most of which connect to the highway. The roads in the southern half are more like a few strands of spaghetti tossed randomly about.

With that image in mind, I figured I could get to Three Points (to the north of here) by driving north on road I’m camped on until it ended at an east-west road which would connect with Highway 286. So off I went and, yup, there was the T intersection. I turned west and soon came to a cluster of buildings and another junction. And some confusing signs. The road ahead was gated and labeled for official vehicles only. The road to the right appeared to just go around to the back of the buildings. The road to the left went south. My little flyer map didn’t tell me enough, but it looked like I could go a little south then northwest to the highway. So I turned left.

That road quickly turned into a pair of ruts with sandy and muddy stretches, some stoney washes, and vegetation crowding in. (Yay, more scratches on the Rolling Steel Tent.) There were no places to turn around. I pressed on with fingers crossed. The road improved a little. Then it got worse. Then even worse. Then a little better.

The northwest road looked sketchier than the road I was on. I decided to continue south, knowing there was a good chance I’d reach Arivaca-Sasabe Road before ever finding a decent road west to 286. Or an equally good chance of getting stuck. Or coming to an impassible spot. Or being eaten by a jaguar.

I reached another junction. The road ahead was pretty much nonexistent, looking like it hadn’t been used since the first pioneers. The well worn track turned right/west. So did I. And a little farther, ta-dah, the highway.

It would’ve been much easier, less anxiety inducing, to just head south from camp on the wide, smooth, maintained road to Arivaca-Sasabe. But I had wanted to do something different. Explore a little. So I chose the literary and literal road less traveled. When things got dicey I told myself I was having an adventure. Yeah, that’s it. Adventure begins where the comfort zone ends, right? Well, this wasn’t a big adventure, and it lasted only a couple of miles, but it wasn’t the dreaded Same Old Thing. After all, it gave me something to write about.

Oh, I learned afterward, by studying satellite images, that the road which appeared to go only to the back of the buildings actually continued on to the highway. Okay, maybe next time.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Where the deer and the antelope and large spotted cats play

The past few days I’ve been camped in a wildlife refuge. Seeking refuge myself. I’m not wild, but I’m not exactly domesticated, either. 

So far I’ve seen jack rabbits, deer and coyotes. Also a variety of small birds (which, sorry, all look the same to me). There are pronghorns here, and javelinas, but I’ve seen only their tracks and scat. The coyotes must be eating well because I encounter their scat everywhere, particularly on the roads.

Probably a pronghorn track

According to a flyer I picked up at an information kiosk, there’s also a possibility of seeing jaguars. That’s surprising. I always thought of them as jungle animals, but the flyer says:

Throughout the past 100 years, jaguars have been consistently documented in the borderlands of Arizona and New Mexico. To develop a sound plan for protecting and conserving jaguars in the United States, the Jaguar Conservation Team needs more information about jaguars in the borderlands—information you can help supply. 
Jaguars are shy and elusive and generally travel at night. They are at home in a variety of habitats, from high spruce-fir forests of the mountainous “sky islands” to the lowland thorn scrub deserts. Their habitat preferences in the United States are not well documented and may be determined as much by the availability of food and water as by habitat type. 
1. If you see a jaguar or signs of jaguar activity: 
2. Note the exact location. Be as specific as possible. 
3. Note coloration, size, posture and behavior of the animal. 
4. Look for tracks, scat, hair and other signs. Make a tracing of a track, if you can do so without destroying it. Collect hair and scat samples for analysis by wildlife officials. 
Report the sighting immediately to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, 602-789-3573 or New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, 505-522-9796.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Adventures in cheap packaged foods: generic canned beef

The canned pork was a success, so I decided to try the canned beef. Same deal—a buck for a pound and a half—but in a fancier can.

Yup, it looks a lot like dog food. But it smells a lot better since it lacks organs, entrails and all the other bits dogs prefer to straight-up beef. It still has the juices and congealed fat, though.

How does it taste? Well, if you removed everything from canned chili that wasn’t beef, it would taste like this. As with the pork, it’s a lot better with some salt. Or any other seasoning. Treat it like the foundation for some dish.

But, basically, yeah. Decent stuff. Cheap pre-cooked protein. I wish I had grabbed a few more cans.

Another day starts

Woke up to a rainbow. That's a good thing, right?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Another day winds down

I continue to be okay. May the same be true for all of you.

Adventures in cheap packaged foods: Horizon Organic shelf-stable low-fat milk

I don’t use a lot of milk, just some on my cereal. And I don’t have cereal that often. Maybe once a week. So I usually buy single-serving bottles—when they’re available. Otherwise the milk goes bad before I can use it all.

When I saw these 8 ounce cartons of shelf-stable milk I realized they could solve another problem: refrigerator space.

Now, I have no prior experience with shelf-stable milk. I wouldn’t even know such a thing existed if it hadn’t been for my interest in Formula 1 racing back in the ‘70s and ‘80s. One of the teams was sponsored by Parmalat. Who/what was Parmalat? It took a while to find out in those pre-Google days, but I eventually learned it was a dairy and food company that produced, among other things, shelf-stable milk, and that said milk is the result of ultra-high-temperature pasteurization.

So it’s real milk, not some dubious alternative like reconstituted powdered milk blended with vegetable byproducts. What the hell, it was only three for a dollar at the bargain food tent in Quartzsite. (Ordinarily about a dollar each in conventional markets.) It was worth a try. Even if it was several months past the “best before” date.

After a couple of weeks in the Rolling Steel Tent’s cupboard, I transferred one of the cartons to the fridge to chill overnight. This morning I poured it on my custom mixture of Rice Chex and Honey Bunches of Oats. And it was… yeah… milk. Fine. The cereal had gotten a little stale, though.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Where is home?

Stay home, they say, to stop the spread of Covid-19. But what about going outdoors, away from people? There’s disagreement on that, different concerns and interests at play.

Craig Childs offered his thoughts on the matter. Here’s a link to his essay in High Country News. And here’s an excerpt:
In the West, we’ve got plenty of space. But are we supposed to be using it? We’re hearing different messages. There’s been a pushback against recreating on public lands, mostly from gateway communities receiving visitors they don’t want, even as people are being encouraged to enjoy parks and open spaces where they can keep a safe distance from others. Most national parks remain open, and entry fees have been waived. 
So which is it? Stay indoors, or go outside? If you go out for a walk, you might hear someone shouting at you from a window, “What don’t you understand about just stay home?” 
…I believe in the right to be outside, but at this moment it shouldn’t be exercised through visitor centers and bottlenecks. Forget the parks; seek out the spaces in between, the backyards and alleys. It’s a great time to explore an irrigation ditch or the woods at the edge of town — to see what’s around you. Be as local as you can.
My driver license says my home is Douglas, Arizona. My heart says my home is the West. I've been staying in Arizona the past couple of weeks to blend in, to pass as a local, to avoid possible flack in neighboring states. Right now the closest person is about a mile away. Social distancing is the default setting out here. Ain’t no viruses being exchanged from me or to me. I’m doing my part, just not in the way the house-bound majority imagines it.

We could all use some help

I’ve relocated to Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, about 60 miles south of Tucson and a dozen miles from Sonora. Baboquivari Peak and Kitt Peak Observatory are visible to the west and I’m surrounded by mesquite-dotted grassland.

It’s my fourth or fifth visit and will probably be my longest one. It’s quiet, almost deserted, and my supplies are good.

I walked for a couple of miles and discovered this solar-powered signal tower along the way.

I like how the pictures show the sun and shadows moving, indicating the passage of time. And how the signal continues broadcasting, so please don’t keep pushing the button. Help will come, it just might take a while.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tale of two roads

There are two roads into the boondocking area Michael suggested. One approaches from the northeast, the other from the southeast. They intersect near where I wanted to be. I was closer to the northeast road, so I took it.

The pavement ended after three miles. The next nine miles were a combination of maintained dirt, unmaintained dirt, washboard, rocky patches, sun-baked mud ruts and a couple of stream crossings.

The first crossing was in a deep wash. The brown water was about two van lengths across and I had no idea how deep. The road on either side was well-packed gritty dirt with no deep tire tracks. I could tell others had driven through, but what type of vehicles were they?

As I was considering my options (including wading in, or turning around and trying the other access road) a quad came along and drove through the water. Oh, I could make that. And I did.

After more nasty washboard and rocks, the road crossed into BLM jurisdiction and became wide and smooth. Hurray for graders and National Monument budgets.

I reached the junction with the southeast road and, not having seen any dispersed camping spots I liked, I turned. Ah-ha! There were some nice looking campsites off this road. They were occupied. There was a narrow spur road to my right. I parked and walked about a half mile up. There were a couple of spots, but none worth putting more scratches in the Rolling Steel Tent. But finally, on another spur, bingo! A great spot with a view. It was a peaceful three days.

Then, as usual, I got itchy to move on.

I continued along the southeast road when I left. I could tell, without the aid of signs or maps, when I left the monument. The dirt road instantly turned rough, rutted and lumpy. But it was smooth as a bowling alley compared to the next ten miles of pavement. Potholes, patches on top of patches on top of patches, gaping expansion joints… I think I preferred the northeast road. At least it didn’t pretend to be civilized.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Park closures — Updated

RootlessLiving maintains a list of the status of various states’ parks. Open, closed, open but camping closed, etc. Here’s the link.

And thanks to Solari for pointing me to a much more comprehensive list from Campendium. Link.

Stay safe, people.

Moving on

The Campendium listing warned one of the boondocking spots here, backed by a hill, served as a range for fire arms hobbyists, so I knew it was just a matter of time before they showed up.

The first shooter wasn’t so bad, even though he was using a high powered rifle. It was loud but he shot only one round at a time, five or ten minutes apart. He must have been there to adjust his sights. About a dozen shots in all. He was not being a jerk.

The next day brought a group that must have been gifted a truckload of ammunition to waste. And beer. Woo-hoo, shoot the shit out of shit! Second Fucking Amendment, motherfuckers! But they left as the sun was setting. I was so glad they didn’t have night scopes.

As much as I loved my beautiful, lush cactus forest, it was time to move on to somewhere more peaceful. (Besides, my cell connection there was erratic.) Michael had given me some tips on places nearby, and I know how he hates having anyone within eyesight or earshot, so it was certain to be quiet and private. So off I went.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Checking it out to avoid pulling it out

I’m getting wiser and more cautious as I age. Or maybe just less adventurous and more cowardly. Either way, it means I avoid driving down questionable roads without walking ahead first to see what the deal is. Ideally, I think to do this when there’s still room to turn around. My backing up skills are pathetic. My multi-point U-turns aren’t much better.

Case in point: from the top of a turnoff I saw an appealing creekside camping spot below. Would I be able to drive in, or was it strictly an off-road vehicle/walk-in situation. I parked the van and followed the track.

Hmmm, muddy ruts, but not too bad. I walked a little farther. Oh, standing water for about twenty yards, then gnarly mud ruts, and more water, and more ruts/trenches. And the track got steeper. Getting down there would be a wild water park ride for sure. Getting back up? Mmmm, nah, nah. I’ll pass. Besides, there would be no cell signal down there.

I’m not a total coward, though. Nearby, the highway was flooded. Aw, look how prettily the water cascades. I could still see the road markings through the water. It was only about six inches deep. Besides, a two-wheel-drive pickup had driven through just ahead of me. The Rolling Steel Tent is just a pickup with extra enclosed space, so I went for it. Both the van and I lived to tell about it.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Everything feels like a symptom

Last week I was in Los Angeles for a checkup. I was not quite asleep in the Rolling Steel Tent when I started to feel a buzzing sensation throughout my body. And a bit of a head and neck ache. Oh no, early Covid-19 symptoms? I took a couple of Advil and went back to bed. I felt fine in the morning.

A couple of days later I was back in the desert and became aware of a very mild body ache. Okay, is this a symptom? It eventually went away.

The next day I felt sluggish and I was producing a lot of snot. It was a symptom of something, but of Covid-19? A friend said it sounded like a sinus thing, not a lung problem. Was I short of breath? No.

The following day I started coughing. Mostly from my slightly misshapen epiglottis trying to deal with all the snot. At least I hoped that was all it was.

Yesterday evening I felt achy and tired again, and my digestive tract was rumbling. Oh, I’ve scarcely eaten. A sandwich took care of that.

Is sneezing a symptom? What about hiccups?

These small symptoms make me anxious, but I’ve been feeling this way long enough that if it were Covid-19 I would be feeling much worse by now. Or I could be infected and I’m one of those who isn’t going to get horribly sick. Or maybe Covid-19 is just taking its sweet time messing me up. I don’t know. Fingers are crossed. After I wash my hands again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

New hideout

Thanks to a comment by a friend, and directions from campendium.com, I’m social distancing at a place that's new to me, between Tucson and Casa Grande, in a beautiful, lush patch of desert. Lush and desert are seldom used together, but it applies in this case. If the cacti were in bloom it would be unbearably beautiful, even with today’s occasional drizzle.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

So much for that plan

Today I started making my way from southwest Arizona to the red rock country of Utah. This evening I’m at Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site near Gila Bend and will continue eastward and northward over the next couple of weeks. Hey, celebrating my birthday by boondocking and hiking in Moab sounds like a good idea.

Well, moments ago I learned the Southeast Utah Health Department issued an order that essentially shuts down tourism in Carbon, Emory and Grand Counties.

Overnight Lodging. Effective at 10 pm (MST) on March 17, 2020, all overnight and short-term lodging facilities (including but not limited to hotels, motels, condos, townhomes, guest homes, RV parks, and all camping on public or private lands) within Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties may only check-in, rent, or lease to Essential Visitors and Primary Residents. Essential Visitors and Primary Residents may utilize public lands for primitive camping purposes. No camp shall be located within 200 yards of another camp and no camp shall consist of more than 10 people. An Essential Visitor is any individual renting lodging or camping for an amount of time less than 30 days for the purposes of work within Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties, or for an employer within the boundaries of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties, and their spouse and dependents. Primary Residents are any individuals renting lodging for periods of 30 days or greater or whose primary address is within one of the counties. (My emphasis added)
Moab and Arches National Park are in Grand County. Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante are outside that three-county area. For now, that leaves plenty of alternative places I could play. But I’m worried other health departments might follow SEUHD’s lead.

UPDATE: Link to article. And this.

Sunday, March 15, 2020


Sunday morning in Quartzsite is my trash day. After dropping my bag at the waste transfer station I continued on into town to see if the discount grocers were open. My test of the canned pork had been successful and I wanted to get more for future use. And some six-for-a-dollar nutrition bars. And whatever else looked good.

The pork was okay, so I'll try the beef

Then I went over to Ken’s Grocery Outlet to see what I might find. Ken was in the back, stacking cases of… Could it be? Yes! Toilet paper and paper towels!

An elderly couple snagged a case. A guy grabbed two. A woman loaded four cases onto her hand truck. (I think she runs a restaurant or motel.) (Or maybe she’s a toilet paper scalper.)

I asked if I had to purchase by the case. No. Good, because I don’t have room for cases. I bought three packages each of TP and towels. That should be enough for quite a while, since I live alone. And because I tend toward optimism. However, I’m not too optimistic about the quality of the toilet paper. But it’s better than nothing. And only a dollar a package.

My now-standard shopping attire, left over from cancer treatment

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Adventures in cheap packaged foods: generic canned pork

Four years ago I reported on some canned foods I bought in Mexico. I knew nothing about them beforehand and they turned out to taste pretty good. And I didn’t get sick or die. You can read about them here and here.

Well, I’ve decided to do similar reviews of the overstocked/off-brand/possibly expired food I got at the discount markets in Quartzsite.

First up is a can of pork, fully cooked, in its own juices, with salt. A buck for a pound and a half of meat? Worth a try.

Fork-tender chunks of meat and fat. About what I expected. The “juices” were in the bottom of the can, along with some coagulated fat. This is something you’d definitely want to heat up, but I tasted a piece to see if it was worth getting out the stove and dirtying a pan.

It tasted like…… pork. Really bland pork. That’s a good thing. It could’ve tasted bad, or like something other than pork. It could’ve been too salty. I tasted another piece. Yeah, really bland pork. So I heated some up.

Heat melted down some of the fat and spread its flavor around. (Come on, we all know we love pork for the fat.) That was better. I added a little salt. That was much better. And some pepper. Yeah, good.

Add barbecue sauce and this stuff would make a decent pulled pork sandwich, without all the hours of pit roasting. Or it could stand in as carnitas in various Mexican dishes. Or get some of the six-packs-for-a-dollar gravy mixes, some remaindered instant mashed potatoes, and a can of your favorite past-freshness-date vegetables from the same market. A proper cafeteria meal. The can suggests salads, soups, stews, casseroles, meat pies... Go for it.

Social Distancing, Level 8

Ah, Quartzsite as snowbird season winds down. Plenty of room, plenty of quiet, not much virus exposure. I'm awaiting the delivery of a couple of packages, then I’m off.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

All systems go!

I just got back from the checkup with my oncologist. I told him it feels as if my epiglottis has shrunk a little and doesn’t fully seal my trachea when swallowing liquids. He took a look with the scope and confirmed that was true. He wrote a prescription that might help with that.

Everything else in my throat looked great.

I reported that it seems like my tastebuds have recovered about 95 percent and my saliva gland is back to about 85 percent. He said that was great progress for only seven months.

Monday’s CT scan showed that the spot in my lung hasn’t grown and there are no new nodules. They believe it’s not a problem but they’ll keep tabs on it.

He also said that my immune system is in excellent shape according to the last round of bloodwork and that I'm probably not at higher risk for Covid-19.

So hurray! Another three months of freedom!

Now, where’s the closest place it’s not raining?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

What just happened?

It was one of those crowded supermarket moments where I did that which-way-are-you-going-right-left-right-left dance with a guy coming the other way. (Come on, it’s like driving. Keep right.) We both rolled our eyes, shook our heads and smiled at the awkwardness. I backed up and waved him through.

We encountered each other a few aisles later. I nodded recognition and said, “We meet again.”

He replied, “Say, could you help me out? I need some cash for gas.”

Uh-oh, he’s hitting me up for money.

He continued, holding out a credit or debit card, “I’ll pay for your groceries if you can give me the amount in cash.”

Huh? “Um, I only have about six or seven bucks in cash.”

“That’ll be enough.”

“Um, okay.” We made our way to the self-checkout as I tried to figure if there was a scam and how it might work. I couldn’t see one.

I rang up my stuff. A little over nine dollars. As he used his card to pay I wondered why he didn’t choose to get cash back. And I wondered why he didn’t use the card to get the gas he said he needed. Or if he didn’t really need gas, why didn’t he buy something cheap—a pack of gum or whatever—and get cash back? Strange. But I gave him my seven dollars and off he went.

I’m trying to figure the damage here. The store got its money and I got my groceries at a discount. My card never left my wallet, so he couldn’t have gotten the numbers or PIN. He’s the one who came up short. Did he realize that? Did his need for cash mess with his ability to reason? Or am I the one who can’t see I was suckered?

Monday, March 9, 2020

Back in the 'burbs

It has become increasingly difficult to get away with stealth camping in cities, particularly along the West Coast. But here I am, back on Los Angeles for a medical appointment. I can park here because it’s in front of my friend’s house, and because the neighbors know of me from when I was here during cancer treatment.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

What a croc

A few years ago I got some cheap imitation Crocs at Walmart to use as shower shoes. Then I discovered they worked pretty good in the van as insulation for my feet. (What’s the R-value for a half inch of injection molded polysomethingorother?)

I’ve never gotten along well with sandals, clogs, and other open-heel footwear. I need to scrunch up my toes to keep my feet from sliding out the back when I walk. Scrunched toes make for an awkward semi-shuffle. That’s how it was with my fake Crocs.

Until recently. Something changed. The shoes? My feet? Both? Whatever. Now I can walk around in them as if I were wearing real shoes. I won’t be doing any hiking in them, though. I doubt I’ll even wear them in public. But for puttering around the campsite without looking like I have a bizarre musculoskeletal ailment? Sure.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Who gets to go?

My new interest in hiking has me researching trails and destinations. As you can tell from previous posts, I like slot canyons and waterfalls. But I also like ghost towns, abandoned mines, crystal blue lakes, glaciers, dramatic vistas, and ancient ruins. There are a ton of such places in the West. Some are well known and crowded.

I’m not the only one with a new craving for the unpaved world. The crowds have been increasing every year. I’m just another noob in the horde. I’m another of those resented by the folks who’ve doing it for decades (and who were probably resented by the oldtimers before them).

When I posted about Michael R. Kelsey’s Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau, my friend Michael was distressed. He needs solitude. He doesn’t want more people inspired to enjoy the outdoors. And if they must come, he doesn’t want them pointed at the good spots. I sympathize. So many of the good boondocking places I learned about in my first couple of years are increasingly crowded. That’s why many of us have stopped sharing specific locations via social media.

The growth in outdoor recreation is causing problems for national and state parks. The tourism industry shouts, “Bring more and more people!” The parks cry, “But we can’t handle them all!” This article from a few years ago discusses the competing forces. It has only gotten worse since then.

The past couple of days I’ve been binge watching Dana Hollister’s hiking videos about the Cedar Mesa/Bears Ears areas of Utah. He visits ancient ruins but shares essentially nothing about their locations. He explains why in this video.

And here are a couple more on the subject.

I understand. He wants to protect the sites from knuckleheads who don’t know how to treat them, and from thieves who want to ransack them. But what about those of us outside the circle of closely held knowledge who revere the sites as much as he does?

I’m one of the unwanted visitors because I was born too late, or because my life path took me elsewhere until now. I’m an interloper because I didn’t clue into all of this forty, fifty years ago.

People like Edward Abbey didn’t want roads in places like southern Utah. They didn’t want to make it easy to get there. They wanted to save it for themselves. But if the wilderness is reserved for only the few, then those places become invisible to the rest of the public. They become nonexistent. “Protect it? What the hell for? There’s nothing out there but dirt and rocks. Wanna mine it, dam it, pave it, pollute it, nuke it? Be my guest.”

I believe as many people as possible should experience the wonders of the outdoors. It makes them more personally invested in preserving it all. But how much is as many as possible without negatively impacting the things they hope to experience? I don’t have the answers. But it would be unfair, self-serving, to deny others the access I want for myself.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

I had a much better title for this when I was still asleep

It was another of those mornings when I was sleeping very well, every cubic inch of me feeling wonderful. Wrapped in a bundle of aaaaaaaaaaaahhhh. Drifting on a sea of, oh, chocolate something. Chocolate love. It was as if I’d been administered the perfect dose of the perfect narcotic. Sleeping like a whale, floating deep, all my body systems in power saving mode. Then waking j-u-u-u-st enough to become aware how deliciously I was sleeping. Because it would be a shame to sleep so well and not know it.

The sun is up? Don’t care. I’m diving down for more.

A little later, maybe nine o’clock? Don’t care. I want more of this.

Still later, need to pee? Don’t care. Shift position a millimeter, override the urge and… down… down……down………

Finally, about ten-thirty, I’d had enough. Well, not enough, but I could tell there was no more left. For the time being.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The view from above

Unless you’re a pilot or a bird or someone who reads a lot about General Patton’s training program in the deserts of California and Arizona, you might not know about the Quartzsite Alignment.

Quartzsite Alignment? Is that like the Harmonic Convergence? Or is it the chassis work you need done after driving on washboard roads?

No, it’s the large word Quartzsite, along with an arrow, and the number 11 carefully laid out in stone by the Corps of Engineers during World War II. The arrow pointed the heading to an airstrip eleven miles away. There’s also an arrow pointing north, labeled with a big N. The original white paint was destroyed by the sun long ago. Now, from the air, the letters appear to be embossed in the desert floor.

There are/were similar markers all over the country, relics from the early days of long-distance aviation. The Quartzsite alignment is well preserved because it’s out in the middle of nowhere. Civilization and development haven’t encroached, and there’s not much that could overgrow it (although some rabbit brush is sprouting up in a few spots).

Meanwhile, a little over a mile to the east, is the Fisherman Intaglio. It was created by ancient inhabitants, not the US military. It looks like a spear fisherman, but the intaglio actually represents Kumastamo, the great creator, who stabbed to desert with his spear and brought water (the Colorado River) to the land. Did Kumastamo also bring snowbirds and their money to the desert?