Friday, December 09, 2011

Day 8 & Joshua Tree


God bless Ken Burns. He inspired me to hop in my car this morning at 6:00 AM and drive through Joshua Tree National Park. It's a strange and beautiful place and I'm glad I saw it.

I had a little teeny panic attack when I got in the car just before sunrise and the "low tire" light was on.  Errrgh.  So I drove to the gas station and after some hysterics I remembered to take out the stuff in the glove box and read it.  And the stuff in the glove box reminded me to check inside the driver side door to see how many PSI my tires should have.  So I checked the pressure and they were all low, so I filled them all up.

Applause, please, for my big girl moment.

I did call Dad after that just to make sure I wasn't making a monumental mistake before heading out into the wilderness, and he gave me a good be careful before I set out.  But at that point the light was off and there was no sign of a flat or anything stuck in a tire, so I pressed on.

I love that I just finished reading Didion's story about crazy people in the San Bernardino mountains.  The drive through the north side of the park was eye-opening.  If Palm Springs is stuck in a time capsule,  so are the little towns that border Joshua Tree... only they're frozen earlier in time.  So colorful.

Anyway, the tire light never came on again, which is a good thing.  Most of this park feels completely isolated from civilized life.  Most of the time I was there I didn't have cell phone service.  That was a little scary.  In fact, I pretty much had the whole National Park to myself.  I never passed another human being when I was out of my car walking around.  I counted four cars that passed me on the road for the whole time I was in the park.  That's some isolation.

Most of the park reminded me of the ocean floor; I couldn't help but make comparisons to what you see when you're scuba diving.  The tiny cacti look like brain coral, and the flat areas with little to no vegetation just looked like the sandy ocean floor off Maui.  Crazy.  It was really cold in the high desert; temps were about 35-40 in the sun this morning.  The wind from some of the higher locations was blowing so hard.

I'm really glad I took the time to go drive through the park.  It took me about four hours round trip from Palm Springs.

After I got back I read some more by the pool.  Today was the first truly warm day here.  Weekend tourists are starting to show up, so there was some interesting people-watching.  Since the weather was so pleasant, we had our last fiction workshop poolside today.  It was great.  We already finished workshopping everyone's pieces so today we just picked our prof's brain about publishing and her own journey as a writer.  It was really helpful.  After class I made everyone take a picture together... proof I was with other humans here.


I'm really grateful to this group of people for making me feel like a real writer.

Anyway. Now I'm off in search of a tire gauge so I will know if I can make it back to Sacramento or not. One more day.

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