Day 55: Southwest‘s vast quiet deserts

In the previous post Verne talked about the Southwest US mega cities and mega attractions. Here I’ll share a bit about our hot road rip to its deserts!

It took me a while to start writing this post. Whenever I started writing something, it would always sound like a cliché or a truism: all the deserts that we visited were indeed vast and grandiose, as is often said, they do make you feel small in comparison, and they were undoubtedly hot, very hot! In some places our thermometers reached 46C (115F). However, as I couldn’t find a way around being a bit cheesy, here it goes…

During this road trip we visited three deserts: the Joshua Tree National Park, the Mojave National Preseve and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I used to think that all the deserts were alike: hot, dry and with lots of sand. I couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s like each one has its own personality, it’s own way of displaying their greatness. And if in the beginning I was not super excited with the idea of spending so much time in places with so little green, the desert indeed grows on you, and now that I’m far away writing this post I already miss that quietness.

 

We had just visited the USS Midway when we hit the road towards the Joshua Tree desert, so all those memories of heroism and bravery were still fresh in our minds. All that seems to have been amplified by the desert landscape. The name Joshua makes me think of old times and immutable things, and somehow this related to what we found here. Kilometers (or miles) of road to ourselves, a beautiful orange and purple sky and the vastness of the sandy colored landscape, interrupted only by the enigmatic Joshua trees. It was peaceful and intense at the same time.

The Mojave on the other hand is more what I had in mind when I imagined a desert. Never-ending sandy plains with sparse vegetation (including some Joshua trees), it is the driest desert in North America. Some of our initial projects in consultancy, almost a lifetime ago, were on renewable energies, more specifically on concentrated solar power (CSP), a very efficient way of harnessing the energy from the sun. The oldest of this CSP plants is from the early 80’s and was built quite appropriately on the Mojave, so this is a name that has been haunting us for many years. Now that we were there, we had to go and check it. We went for the most recent plant, Ivanpah, and it is an impressive view! A mirror field in the middle of the desert. Shiny and beautiful.

Our last walk on the desert was on the Red Rock. For me this was the most beautiful, probably because of the strong terracota colors, with incredible tones of orange, red and yellow, in amazing dégradés. We got to do a bit of rock scrambling here and it was pretty fun! From the look on Verne’s face I would say this one was also his favorite… Am I right?

It’s a close call! Rock scrambling at Red Rock was definately a lot of fun, but so were the long hikes at Joshua Park. There’s something thrilling about being surrounded by nothing but eerie silence and having to look for your own footsteps to figure out the way back to the car!

Just a quick word of caution: visiting the desert was an amazing experience but we were extra careful, always carrying plenty of water and food. In the same week we were doing this, a French couple died of dehydration in the New Mexico desert. Stay safe!

Catching now a flight to the Cook Islands, to the land of the Maoris!

 

Jules *

11 thoughts on “Day 55: Southwest‘s vast quiet deserts

  1. Não me lembro de terem falado que andaram por sítios tão perigosos! Não é só a desidratação, os locais parecem-me escorregadios! Tanta aridez não me fascina! Experimentava apenas um…mas ficam tão longe!

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    1. Acho que não foste nem banal, nem piegas, Jules. Acho que com poucas palavras nos conseguiste transmitir a beleza do local, a sua imponência, vastidão, os deslumbrantes pores do sol, o impacto que tudo isso teve sobre vós… Pinceladas de algo que é indescritível. Também eu fiquei sem respiração! 🙂

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  2. Mas também fiquei apreensiva! Andaram sempre sozinhos?! A guiarem-se pelas vossas próprias passadas no caminho de regresso?! E é bom chegar ao topo, mas há zonas muito escarpadas…

    Vejo que foram cuidadosos no que respeita a água e a comida, e dão muito bons conselhos às pessoas, mas irem sozinhos para o meio do nada não me parece muito sensato… 😦

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  3. Enfim, gostei das extraordinárias paisagens, mas também dos pormenores da vida humana, das caixas de correio, dos intermináveis comboios de mercadorias… Ah, ainda não tinha entendido o significado da foto em que vocês fazem momices! Afinal, são torres espelhadas para capturar a energia solar!

    No final, as fotos na água são tão relaxantes, que até eu respirei fundo! E que felizes, a fazerem canoagem!

    Obrigada por mais esta reportagem (com “selfies”, claro, não havia lá mais ninguém para vos tirar as fotos!).

    Fico a “salivar” pelas Ilhas Cook… Beijinhos! 🙂

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  4. If you are in this corner of the world again, may I put a triple recommendation in for the National Parks and Red Rock Country of southern Utah? I’m convinced those canyons hold part of my soul. 😉

    xox

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