Nov 23 - New Desert Geoglyph

While chasing Patton's tanks the other day we got to talking about how slowly things change in the desert. Besides those 70 year old Sherman Tank tracks, there's the much older (500 years or more??) Bouse Fisherman Intaglio that we visited last year. And where do the US Air Force and the airlines of the world park their old, surplus, or unused planes? The desert of course. The dry arid environment minimizes the availability of water... one of the main elements of erosion, corrosion, population explosion, and the notion of distortion. And I can't emphasize enough the effect low population has on the enduring longevity of things out here.

I enjoy watching people riding by on their ATVs, 4-wheelers, or dirt bikes. At first, the silence of the desert is broken by the sound of a small engine, off in the distance,... then a bunch of small engines. Instinctively, I turn my head, home in on the sound, and see a rooster tail of dust... not unlike the Tasmanian Devil character in cartoons when I was a kid. But, alas, it's not a cartoon but a group of ATVers out enjoying the desert on an early winter afternoon. They're out to see the sights of the remote desert... which for all of them except the first guy, is a cloud of dust and dirt. After the first one drives past, the rest are usually caked with dirt and fitted with dust masks, respirators, and goggles. Boy, that looks like fun to me. I wonder how they decide who goes first. I mean, does the same "alpha" always lead the pack?  Do they take turns? Hmmm.

Hiking in the desert is a different story. It's, as I read in someones blog a while back, "seeing the land with your feet". (What a great definition of hiking). It allows the explorer to not only see the desert landscape, but to hear it, to feel it, to smell it - and it does smell better than the exhaust of a Honda four-stroke. Sure, it might be tough to hike more than a few miles in a day but if the goal is to really experience the desert, it can't be beat.

During one of our hikes the other day we decided to create our own desert intaglio (or perhaps more accurately termed a geoglyph?). In some people's mind it might be defacing the desert... but com'on. It's made entirely of the materials available at the sight... just arranged differently. There's no spray paint or human-generated garbage involved... it's completely natural. And is anybody ranting about the guy who did the Bouse Fisherman? No... he/she/they are celebrated... not indicted. We thought it'd be fun to return whenever we're in the area, to check on it's status, to see how nature and time (and vandals) have changed it, to see how long it lasts. If Patton's tank tracks survived 70 years and the Bouse Fisherman hundreds of years, we will probably never know.

TD could stand for Thanksgiving Day... or it could mean "torrid desert"... or possibly something else. 

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Slightly Better than Most