I have had a few people who prefer vacations on cruises or Hawaii ask me why I’d want to go to the desert. “It’s just a hot, dry place with nothing but rocks and sand. If you’ve seen one desert you’ve seen them all.”
This is an interesting observation, but wrong. These people have obviously driven to Las Vegas in the summer at 75 miles an hour and figured that was enough. Well, duh.
We’ve been coming down here for the better part of 10 years and I am constantly amazed at the variety of desert campng that we have discovered. And every place is different.
When we left the RV Park we headed for a spot about 50 miles away called Saddle Mountain. It is a rugged mountain outside of Tonopah (a place know for it’s hot springs). Also it is the home of the Eagle Tail Mountain Wolf Rescue place where we are starting to volunteering. But the mountain is known for it’s fire agate, a favorite rock of Dales. We drove around trying to find a place close enough to both the mountain and the Wolf place. We were lucky to find a nice area with a view of the Mountain that was only 5 miles from the Refuge. It was the first time in weeks that we were alone and the dogs didn’t have to be tied up. I loved it. The vegetation there was mainly Creosote and Palo Verde trees and the soil was both sandy and rocky. We cleared a little area and put out our chairs and hammock and settled in for a few days. We just got our UTV “Babe” back from the shop so we drove around looking at the sights. We only stayed for a few days because we wanted to go on to Globe and check out a campsite on Apache Lake.
We had decided to go to a place we went to a few years ago about 16 miles from Globe. Our first visit here had turned into a near disaster. We’d just got camped when it started to pour rain. The beautiful red earth turns into gumbo in the rain and we had a terrible time trying to get our trailer out. But in spite of that we decided to try again. This is the high desert and like a northern forest. Of course, it is at 4,200 feet so it is no surprise that we have juniper, scrub and pines all around. But make no mistake, there are still cactus, yucca and agave. Also everything that lives on the desert either sticks, stings, bites or scratches. Hence the ‘prickly pear’ cactus and the ‘shin sticker’ agave. It’s a survival thing. But in spite of that, this is a beautiful place almost like a park. One of the interesting things about growth on any desert it always looks like it was planted. With the constant shortage of water each part of the desert can only support a certain amount of growth in every area. As a result the creosote and cactus are evenly spaced.
We found this area originally because we were looking for rock sites. It appears that there is globe onyx up there. We found it then but try as we did we couldn’t find it again. But we had a wonderful time on Babe looking for it.
As we drive along the red road we startle birds who fly into the bushes at such a speed I can’t identify them. But along with them fly a number of robins. I always wondered where they went when they left my place in Washington. The scenery is magnificent. As we travel, we motor up and down some hills that have channels of wash outs throughout. But they are no challenge for Babe. On the banks the juniper are interspaced with large rocks that come in all shapes. They are a landscapers dream. We go for about five miles and start to realize that none of this seems familiar. So we turn around and make our way back. But I enjoyed every minute of it.
It’s a little early for the cactus to bloom but when they do it is quite startling. These plain-jane plants all of a sudden push forth with the most beautiful blooms of bright colors. Even the Ocatello top their long skinny branches with flaming red blossoms. It’s a sight to behold. The trees also bloom. The Palo Verde and the Mesquite are yellow, the Manzanita have tiny pink bells. The Juniper covers the ground underneath them with a blanket of blue berries.
Both the sunrises and the sunsets can be spectacular on the desert. I often find some excuse to go out at night just to see the stars, unfettered by pollution they seem close enough to touch. So I tell my naysayers that until you have awakened to the smell of creosote after a rain, you just don’t know what you are missing.