By far, my favorite outing of the last year was an October camping trip to the apron of the Mojave desert, some ways out of Barstow, California.
I do love California, I must say it again. Not just because of Prop. 64, not just because of John Steinbeck, not just because of the Black Panthers, but because of the gorgeous and brilliant countryside which serves as an inspiration to us all. No matter which region of the ecosystem you visit, California offers inspirational beauty at nearly every turn.
We drove about 20 miles off of the highway. Far enough out to give us a good view of the Milky Way. We chose a derelict stone fire ring late at dusk, and set up camp in the dark, aided by the glare of the truck’s headlamps. With the car off and a lantern lit, we drank in starlight. The valley we selected was ringed with a rocky desert ridge. The temperature dropped and wind picked up. We dug out the fire pit, laid a few more stones in the ring, and lit our campfire. All around us scrub and sagebrush scratched at the sky.
It was early night yet, and the moon had not yet risen. Before moonrise, we’d forgotten it was full. The brilliant autumn supermoon cleared the ridge in a few brief moments, reminding me how fast the earth turns, and blazed like a blue sun. Everything was illuminated. We walked hundreds of yards away from the fire and could see everything. We could read by it. Every branch and twig of brush stood out against the silvery blue glowing sand. Starbursting Joshua trees dotted the valley. We gaped at the Milky Way.
We stayed two nights, hiking the rocky outcroppings by day, exploring the desert, cooking and reveling in the sky by night, filled with gratitude. I returned to San Francisco with a renewed appreciation for life, mine and everything else’s.
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