Spring in the desert where water is scarce and most plants barely reach 3 feet high, is a new experience for me. Living for so long in the midwest, I took for granted the cascades of color, the burst of blooms, and the hopefulness of hosta and daffodils as they push through the earth.
The desert is much more subtle in it’s approach to renewal; one often has to slow down and look more closely, with more intention, and even listen to the arrival of the equinox. I am celebrating spring in a different way this year- not focusing on learning the names of the plants that I see, but just enjoying them for who they are, and sometimes making up my own names for them. Here are some of my new friends that I’ve met along the way as I hike daily.
I’ve been hunkering down in southern Nevada on BLM for the past month. I’ve moved my campsite 4 times in the last 2 weeks for various reasons- once having to do with personal safety. Camping on BLM is usually free with wide open spaces (great for social distancing) and beautiful hiking. The challenging part has been managing my batteries (I had to get a jump start because I let my batteries get too low), finding places to get food, fresh water, and dump my waste tanks.
I found Cal’s, a local mechanic shop that also rents U-Hauls and sells propane (another necessity). Cal’s is located next to an old gas station that has been converted into a physical therapy office. It seems strange, but the canopy where the gas pumps use to be provides shade, the front door is wheelchair accessible and there is plenty of parking!
Cal is a chronically grumpy guy in his late 60’s, who wears a blue and red uniform shirt with his name embroidered above the pocket where he keeps his cigarettes. His wife, Mrs. Cal runs the office and organizes the line of RV’s, trailers and trucks that come in for water, propane and to dump. When it gets busy, she scurries around putting numbers on bright orange paper, and slipping them under the windshield wipers to keep everybody lined up.
I met Diana and Larry at Cal’s last week during the down time of waiting in line to dump and take on water. They are both retired critical care nurses and avid skiers who fled Utah when the ski resorts closed. They headed south in their 24 ft class C motorhome for the warmth and sunshine of southern Nevada.
At the time, I was headed north to some BLM land outside of Mesquite, but they told me about some free camping in nearby Logandale on a reservoir. I figured that I’d do a driveby and check it out since it was on my way. I finally found Bowman Reservoir after several attempts going down the wrong gravel road. Aaaaah! It was beautiful!
Larry and Diana showed up as I was getting settled and we camped together for 2 nights on a bluff overlooking the water. Diana and I took several hikes around the area, and Gemini got to swim for the first time in months. I realized that we had not been near any body of water (except for the pool and hot tub in Pahrump) since early December.
The next day, Diana got on her inflatable paddleboard and I got in Larry’s kayak. It was wonderful being on the water and we paddled around and chit-chatted for about an hour. Then Diana asked me if I wanted to try the paddleboard.
“It’s really easy. I’ve only fallen off once in the several years that I’ve had it!” she said
I had watched her stand up from her knees in a sort of “downward facing dog” yoga move, and thought to myself, “Oh, that’s easy. I can do that!”
So, I got on the board on my knees and paddled easily to the middle of the lake. Then with the move of a graceful dancer (in my mind), I stood up for about 5 seconds. I think that I screamed like a little girl when I hit the icy water and went under.
It was easier than I thought it would be to get back on the board, but I soon realized that I was backwards. I was too shaky from the cold water and adrenaline rush to turn around, so I did a backstroke of sorts towards the shore, towards the laughter of my companions, who were amazed that I even attempted to stand up on my first time out. Apparently, you are supposed to practice on your knees for awhile before standing- Ooops, I didn’t get that memo!
The next day, we got kicked out of the reservoir by a very nice official who informed us that there was no overnight camping allowed at the “private” reservoir. We apologized for not knowing the rules, but didn’t mention that we had already spent 2 nights there. He directed us to a nearby State Park with free camping (Yay! We love free camping.); so off we went in the rain to Logandale Trails, an absolutely gorgeous area with red sandstone formations, red sand dunes, and beautiful canyons.
It was very peaceful for 1 day, then on Thursday before Easter, large groups with off-road vehicles started to arrive. Yikes!! Little did we know that this was a very popular place for people to ride ATV’s, motorcycles, 4-wheelers. We also noticed that some vehicles have neon lights for night driving.
We stayed Thursday night and then decided to go to somewhere a little more quiet. So, we headed back to Cal’s for fresh water and a dump, then back to Sand Mine Rd. where I had stayed the week before. We got my same campsite on the edge of the canyon, where I can lie in my bed and watch the sunrise in the notch of the distant mountain range- a small joy that makes me smile as I fall back to sleep.
I think that sometimes it’s the smaller things in life that go unnoticed, until we slow down, that brings us the most joy!
I hope that you, too, take time to slow down for JOY as you Go With the Flo!!