Friday, March 17, 2017

California Outback

Cougars, bobcats, coyotes, rattlesnakes lurk. Cactus, scrub oak, manzanita and a plant called Red Shank or Ribbon Wood (Adenostema sparsifolium) dominate the landscape. Red Shank is a beautiful shrub growing uniquely in this part of California and Australia, according to literature and our host.

Quiet, beauty and peace prevail. We are camped on 40 acres belonging to clients of Brad and generous strangers to us, Karen and Mark. The property looks out over BLM lands, the PCT Trail, Anza Borrego Park, the Santa Rose Mountain Range and Idyllwild Mountain.


Neighbors are visible, off in the distance, but mostly we are alone -- no phone and no internet and no one in sight. We are at the end of a very long, narrow rutted dirt road. There is a well and water so for the first time in longer than I will disclose, we are clean. Showers this morning! Not the inside kind, with hot and cold water adjustable to our personal temperature desire, but water from a hose attached to a cold water faucet, in the middle of the wide open world. Oh my, how delicious.

The temperature here on this knoll is lovely, in the low 80's with a slight breeze. Down in the valley yesterday, as we passed through, it was a windless and a very hot 100. How grateful we were for Thistle's air-conditioning. I remember trips in bygone days where the only relief from traveling through the desert was rolling down the windows and going faster. If there were creeks along the way we'd wet bandanas and wrap them around our necks. Edward Abbey, in his writings, expressed auto airconditioning as four windows down and 45 miles per hour.

While Mark was off teaching in San Diego, Karen arrived around noon with a dozen fresh eggs in hand and time to spend hanging out and showing us the land. We deepened both our friendship and our knowledge of this special place as we hiked to a canyon creek, still flowing lightly from the last rain. Oak trees were growing in the canyon, completely changing the feel from where we were camped at the top of the ridge.

A deep thank you Mark and Karen!

And as we were driving away this morning the hills were covered with poppies…


“My loyalties will not be bound by national borders, or confined in time by one nation's history, or limited in the spiritual dimension by one language and culture. I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my intimations of glory to the singing stars, to the very end of space and time.”

~ Edward Abbey, Confessions of a Barbarian

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