Tag Archives: mojave

a new appreciation of mornings

It’s official, I’m a parent. This night owl is starting to appreciate mornings. And I don’t mean hanging-in-the-kitchen-with-C.-while-he-eats-his-yogurt-and-blueberries mornings. I’m talking a half-hour-before-sunrise mornings where I have the quiet house all to myself.

The past few days, I’ve woken up at about 5:30 and holy crap I’ve achieved a lot before many people are swinging their legs out of their beds. I can enjoy my espresso and read the news without interruption, run west (sans stroller) along dirt roads so I can visit nearby horses and see the mountains in the distance, hit up the grocery store and have the aisles and check-out dude all to myself, and, most importantly, write.

It’s always quiet where we live, on a cul-de-sac in the Mojave desert. But, for me, the mornings are extra peaceful.



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the desert’s hidden beauties


When A. told me he wanted to move to the desert, I’m pretty sure I laughed in his face.

“Have you seen my skin?” I said, pointing to the Irish white dotted with freckles.

He had spent several years in Pasadena, and had fallen in love with Joshua Tree National Park and this was very, very important to him.

I had just delivered a baby, loved my job and my friends and city-living and really, the desert was a place I never considered. I am drawn to the beach and to the mountains — the desert sounded lonely and inhospitable.

When we visited the first time, last April, I noticed the ravens. In the parking lots, in the streets, hopping around and staring at me with their beady eyes and opening their long beaks and croaking at me. I felt dread, then, and I found the only green swatch of public land in the dusty town and hunched on a park bench to nurse the then 4-month-old C. I called my best friend, exhausted, and pleaded with her to tell me it was going to be OK. And then, on the drive back to LA, I cried.

We’ve been here for five months. And what I’ve noticed about the desert is its hidden beauties. Small white and yellow wildflowers hiding in shrubs (the smallest we’ve ever seen) and hummingbirds zipping by and Joshua trees bending and twisting and blooming and red and green and striped rocks sparkling in the sun.



Lately, we’ve been going on weekly hikes, sometimes more, and have explored Indian Wells Canyon and Short Canyon.

A. said last weekend, “It amazes me that I lived in LA for so long and never considered coming here for hikes.” Neither have the others, it seems, for we have the trails to ourselves and can enjoy the quiet and catch roadrunners sprinting by and birds swooping overhead and flowers ruffling in the wind.

It surprises me how much life is here, even though we’re less than an hour from one of the hottest places on Earth.

And it amazes me I was so narrow-minded to never consider the desert: It’s no coincidence that writers and artists find their muse in its subtle magic.



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abandoned mine: a film set?

“If I were a college film student,” A. said. “This is where I’d shoot a horror film.”

We were at an abandoned mine deep in the Indian Wells Valley, and A. was downstairs in a cabin in the woods looking at debris and rusted springs from a bed from nearly a century ago.


On a tip from two dirt-bikers at the brewery the day prior, we went in search of the Nadeau-Magnolia gold mine, driving narrow dirt roads past hundreds of Joshua trees — some charred from a recent fire. When we arrived, there was a sign lying on the ground, so faded it’s hard to read: “Caution: Mining Area” and “1937.”

On one of the walls in the cabin hangs photos of Siebert family — but A. and I didn’t get a close look because we didn’t trust the wooden boards to hold our weight.


Wandering around, seeing mining equipment from the early 1900s, I felt like a kid who had walked straight into a storybook. I imagined miners calling to each other, faces covered in dirt, and the Siebert family sitting around the stove in the cabin, looking out the same window I peered out.


A. and I had stepped into history, and it was all ours to explore. We decided it’s our best discovery yet since moving to Ridgecrest, Calif. The next weekend, we tried to take A.’s parents, but there were about six people huddled near the camping area — including a tall, lanky guy holding a shotgun — and a pitbull that came charging toward our car. We turned around so fast, it’s a wonder we didn’t skid off the dirt road.

We didn’t make it up to the actual mine, about a 1/2 mile hike, but we plan to go back. (And I’d like to find out more about its history — but a quick Google search doesn’t bring anything up.) Maybe we’ll take video cameras and shoot our own horror film like the Blair Witch Project. I’m certain that with little effort — especially after dark — we can scare the bejeesus out of each other.






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where the robbers used to roost

Since we moved to Ridgecrest in November, I’ve had moments where I miss friends and family in an empty “what am I doing here” way. And then I’ve had moments like this, taking in the desert’s beauty with A. and C. — endless land and sky and quiet — and I exhale and think, “Wow. This is what I’m doing here.”

(This is at Robber’s Roost, off of 14, about 15 minutes from our home, and it was where robbers used to hide out and scan for stagecoaches carrying gold and other minerals in the 19th century.)





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