Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Random desert shots

On this blog, every so often I'll include a random photo taken somewhere in the Southwestern U.S. deserts. By random I mean odd or perhaps out of place. Something that looks like it doesn't fit; you wonder how it got there, or why. Or maybe its oddness fits perfectly.

In the desert, unlike in other populated, "civilized" communities, you'll find a higher degree of randomness. You'll be driving along the I-40 to Needles, or on Highway 62 east of Twentynine Palms, and there will be a building, sign, or object by the side of the road, or in the distance, that looks like it was dropped from the sky. Part of why I love the desert. Besides its vastness and stark beauty, there's a sense of adventure, of stumbling upon the strange and unknown.

When driving on a desert road, I muse about earlier travelers, whether they decided to stop at a certain spot and plant themselves and then one day suddenly left. People dump stuff in the desert. You see all kinds of junk. People do things in the desert they wouldn't do in the city because it's big. No one can eavesdrop or see.

There are spaces in the desert... long gaps in time and miles before you come across a town or another car. In the desert there's a sense of freedom and at the same time engulfment, as if that big sky might close in. The desert can be frightening or a comfort. Maybe it reflects what's in our hearts.

April, 2005: my husband William took this photo in Shoshone, California, of a store boasting a UFO Expo. The shop was closed that day so we couldn't go in. Shoshone is a little gateway town at the southeastern entrance to Death Valley National Park. My family and I traveled to Death Valley after a 100-year rainfall in the park a month before. We drove out to see the record number of wildflowers, whose seeds lie dormant for many decades. The abundance of flowers was unbelievable, considering the climate of Death Valley (more on that later...)

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