ONE: The Trona Pinnacles are one of the most exotic yet most seen bits of landscape in America. They look truly extraordinary but they regularly appear in car commercials and have been in all manner of SF movies, not least Lost in Space and the Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes.
We went walking there and for several hours were pretty much the only people around for several hours although there was one terrible moment when we first arrived and I’d parked in what I thought was a nice isolated spot, when a minivan pulled up about ten yards away. Since the area covers nearly 4000 acres this seemed an unnecessary intrusion, but perhaps the driver saw me, thought there’s a desert hound who obviously knows the perfect spot and decided to join me. Fortunately not for long. In this case, the passenger, a pleasant enough middle-aged woman got out of the car, raised her camera, took a single photograph and got back in the car and drove away. The woman’s desert walk had covered maybe twelve feet.
But then at sunset three or four cars arrived, each one driven by a single man, and every one of them got out, walked to an isolated spot and sat there silently and alone till the sun went down. These are the kind of desert walkers one appreciates.
TWO: I drive a Jeep, not because I want to prove myself in some manly way by cresting rocks and swamps, but because I want to go walking in places an ordinary saloon won’t take me. I know that in Death Valley people thrash their saloon cars over some nightmarish terrain, but I assume these are rental cars. And I was certainly glad to have a four wheel drive on the road to the ghost town of Skidoo where the below picture is taken.
Skidoo was once a mining town and although there’s not much sign of a town anymore, the hills are scattered with mining debris and open shafts, their entrances fenced, but I’m sure you could fall in if you were really determined.
I always find it strangely satisfying to walk a couple of miles into the hills and look then back the way I’ve come and to say to whoever’s with me, “Hey, I can see my car from here.” There it is on the far left, with the arrow.
Of course I always some anxiety that I’ll look down and see some bad seed has arrived, broken into the car and is now stealing my stuff. So far this has never happened, but there’s always a first time.
THREE: And speaking of feral furniture, we did of course find some wrecked TVs and sofas on our desert travels – in some cases they were inside trailers that had themselves been wrecked. The picture above is taken in Trona.
And the one below was the best score of all – also in Trona – a wrecked house the railway line and the chemical factory, and inside along with a derelict sofa and fridge, there was a piano (or at least half a piano.). Here is a picture of my desert walking companion, walking on a piano. Does it ever really get any better than this?