Friday, September 21, 2007

Joshua Tree

With the second leg of our travels ahead of us, we retreated to the quiet solstice of Joshua Tree, to regroup and be in the still of the vast land of wild and dangerous cacti and the 15,000 year old Joshua trees. With dried fruit and nuts in the trunk, two gallons of water, some hot Thai food from only restaurant in site, beside the bustling Beatnik Cafe, we departed, arriving in when the fall of the moon sank beyond the Hidden Valley rocks. The local newspaper listed an array of art events, but it seems to be that the more eccentric, and organized array of activity is a bit more discreet.

The two days in the desert was a quieting of the spirit tucked beside the monolithic boulders of the Hidden Valley Campground. It is no wonder they have a residency program here, as the entire day unfolds for retreating, reading, breathing, walking, listening, and watching the quietness of the clouds as the cactus expose themselves.

Where is local food in the desert? We equipped the car with dried fruits, nuts and grains. There was hardly a tree in site that sprouted green leaves let alone fruit. Within a days of cumulus clouds and rock climbers scaling rocks, we uncovered the magic of the cacti. The prickly pear was just in fruit, but many of the fruits were not quit ripened for tasting. From spending time in Mexico, Joanna was accustomed to the red striking fruit, it's many ways of eating and the simple art of harvesting. I hadn't a very strong liking nor desire for harvesting or working for the green bean tasting from the nopales, the cactus paddles from which the prickly pear is produced. The Land of Little Rain book carried on the discoveries and uses of desert plants, particularly the mesquite tree from which Bar-b-q flavoring comes from, creosole, from which a sap emerges for Indian arrowhead points and the jumping cholla flowers, which are picked off with a large and safe distancing pole.

Within the days in the desert, we looked and discovered, burned a fire in the night to pass the moonrise and identified the variations of cactus pencas. We began to understand the cactus families and the subtleties and variations in species.

With a desert storm overhead, we headed back to the manicured and private mobile home neighborhood in Palm Springs to Joanna's Grandmother's house, to repair the obviously rough running vegetable filter in the car, so that we could use the remaining 10 gallons of oil we cleaned in Camarillo.

With 2 hours of car maintenace, manual reading and oil adjustments, we invested in the best 6 in wide wrenches to add to our Grease Girl car kit, changed the filter and prepared for the next leg of the trip through the south.