Saturday, August 9, 2008

Finding God

California has redeemed itself. How could I have doubted loveliness existed in this horrible state? Shame on me; Sir and I have only just found our way home from a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, where we spent the night sleeping in our Forrester and today hiking, me in a bikini or naked, at varying times. Although I grew up in the arid desert of Washington state, I'd never experienced a true high desert and I was anxious to see the Joshua trees.

Before I left work yesterday, my boss told me that one sees God in such a place. I can't speak for others, but while I certainly did not see God, the beauty of the giant boulders juxtaposed against a blue-blue sky with strange little man-trees, arms raised upward, placed here and there and then more and more frequently until you're surrounded by a forest of what's really a very tall can you experience anything but awe? A mountain of nothing more than rubble from millions of years ago had me trying to imagine the process that took place to set each boulder, one on top of the other. I climbed over enormous rocks and inspected them to find that they were composed of compacted crystals and sand, heated together by the sun and prehistoric upwellings of lava that also shaped them into forms that you just don't see in nature--go, see for yourself--find the Skull Rock.

I couldn't help but think of Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, in which he wrote about the Utah desert: (paraphrased) "get out of your car, start walking--nay, crawling--and touch each plant, experience that hot sun, get lost for hours." It frustrated me to see tourists taking pictures from the safety of their air-conditioned vehicles without ever opening the door to get out and start scrambling over rocks and daring to leave the trails. It angered me to see the blatant disrespect for native wildlife as Sir and I picked up trash left by those who HAD gotten out, only to view the solitary wilderness as an opportunity for unhindered partying.

It was beautiful. Go. Be brave enough to explore, even in the heat of the sun...don't be afraid to venture off the paved roads and hike the back-country trails. But please...respect it--take everything out that you brought in, and pick up what others have left behind.

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