Running late to the Smoke Creek and beyond and back


Michele celebrated Memorial Day morning by sleeping in – under a threatening sky. Maybe more than threatening: we could see virga as we looked around.

As an aside. There are four deserts in the United States. They are generally characterized by the plant life but I think they can also be characterized by their character? myths? aura? I am not sure of the right word. I have not spent enough time in the Chihuahuan Desert to form an opinion, but the other three deserts are very different.

The Mojave Desert is the wacko desert and I mean that in the worst way and the best possible way. It is where people get abducted by Aliens, it is the desert of Charles Manson, the Repo Man desert. It is also the home of the Mojave Air & Space Port and China Lake Naval Air Station and Edwards Air Force Base.

The Sonora Desert is the Indian desert. It is where the Navajos live, where tourists go to Pueblos over 500 years old, the best place to buy real and faux Indian art.

The Great Basin Desert is the Cowboy desert. Yes, there are Indian reservations, but few tourists visit them. It is where wild horses still roam and cowboys try to thin the herds using helicopters. It is a cold desert in winter – but, now, by the end of May, it is pretty warm – and the dominant plant is sage brush. Rub up against a plant or drive over one and the smell of sage permeates the air. I find it delightful. It is called the great basin because it does not drain to the sea. There are no rivers that lead out of the Great Basin. You can accurately say that The rain that falls in Nevada stays in Nevada.End aside.

We had camped near an abandoned mine that was really just a vertical shaft – but deep enough so that we couldn't see the bottom – and there was abandoned junk spread around. It was more picturesque in the fading light of last night than the heavy gray sky of morning.


After breakfast, we went south and ran into the tailings, abandoned buildings, and industrial size junk of what looked to be a huge operation. 

Because a couple of the abandoned vehicles were WWII deuce and half trucks, I'm guessing the mine operated, at least, into the 1950s. But the remaining buildings and technology could have been from a hundred years ago. Including the Tequila Junction bar Michele dropped by and

the outhouse with view.


The mine site – I wouldn't call it big enough to be a ghost town – was a little creepy in the drab day and what we really wanted to do was go for a long walk, so we drove north to a canyon that looked promising on the map. And it was: we walked up a double track road until it petered out and then cut cross country back to the truck.



When we got back to the truck, it was getting late, so we high-tailed it back to Mike and Linda's. 

To be concluded.


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