desert moonlight: part one of our spring trip, death valley

we were off to a great start; lucy slept over the mountain pass and woke up on the east side of the sierras.

made it all the way to the bishop city park before we stopped to eat the egg salad sandwiches i'd packed for lunch. lucy thought that was pretty dang tasty, but not quite as tantalizing as the inquisitive ducks waddling about.

it was late afternoon when we rolled into Furnace Creek, Death Valley after miles of desolate jaggedy terrain through wicked canyons and undulating endless road along shimmery smoldering desert floors.

down into those whispering howling craggy desert canyons to a depth of 190 feet below sea level, to this little stretch of land where we set up camp.

april 24, 98 degrees, 6 pm. in the desert everything is illusion, water, tree, time, space. you can decide your own path and your own guides, be it sinking sun or rising moon, the creaks of your bones or coyote's song.

we watched the sunset at zabriskie point.

"for all the toll the desert takes of a man it gives compensations, deep breath, deep sleep, and the communion of the stars." - mary austin

we decided to go to the stovepipe wells sand dunes to mark the rise of the full moon.

"it is hard to escape the sense of mastery as the stars move in the wide clear heavens to risings and settings unobscured. they look large and near and palpitant; as if they moved on some stately service not needful to declare. wheeling to their stations in the sky, the make the poor world-fret of no account. of no account you who lie out there watching, nor the lean coyote that stands off in the scrub from you and howls and howls." - mary austin

lit only by moonlight. world-fret of no account indeed. i nursed my babe in the sand and watched the stars wheeling.

a mysterious guardian back at the camp trickles her bony fingers through moonlight.
"somehow the rawness of the land favors the sense of personal relation to the supernatural." -m.a.
everything feels a little more ghostly here.

 for me, sadly, this desert did not afford a deep sleep. too little padding and a restless teething babe, a sore hip from nursing on my side, and we were up at 6:13 a.m just in time to greet that hot hot morning sun. i felt surprisingly spry and happy for getting...oh...about two hours of sleep, so i let darin sleep in, (did i just say sleep in? we're talking seven a.m. folks. i am officially an old lady) and told cheerful tales to my girl who is definitely a morning person, and dug around for matches so we could get that coffee brewing.

how did i not know that mourning doves love the desert? her gentle coos keep the peace in the wild land, day in and day out. 

while she was still in her cheerful morning mood, daddy got up and took lucy for a little ramble. 

and then she had some breakfast. darin took one look at this picture and said, CLASSY lady.

but a little lady who was bound to give us a run for our money that day. it turned out to be the only "difficult" day of the trip, and it definitely had its share of glorious moments as you'll see in the next post! but it had a good dose of these moments too....

by ten the day was scorching and we were packing up and seeking shade along the roadside mesquite and pinon. lucy fell asleep nursing in the shade and we were able to go on a peaceful driving tour of the "artist's palette," a rugged area of pastel colored badlands, mineral deposits and volcanic debris. darin likes to listen to epic music in the desert, like silver mount zion or six organs of admittance, or of course bob dylan, howe gelb, calexico, townes. it creates an experience of soundtrack and landscape that sets up a haunting desert camp in the memory. a little tent with prayer flags blowing in a hot wind of the mind, forever and ever, on the borderland.

two days in to our trip, we'd be crossing the mojave preserve and heading down into joshua tree by twilight...


mmgood said…
my god, the mystery of the desert landscape matches the depth in lucy's eyes. that classy picture might be superficially messy, but look at that old soul pouring out of her little light beams!

i can't wait to hear more about this trip, already it seems SO different from the last!

btw, i've been are you on books for lucy? i have this fantasy that you have the best library in the world for her and that you wouldn't need me to pass any along...yet i think of you often when thinning out our own collection or when thrifting...maybe we can pow wow about kids books when we SEE EACH OTHER in a few weeks. xoxox
Teeny said…
The photo I am most in love with is the one of you three sitting flat in the middle of the moonlight in the desert. When are moments more beautiful than this? We are just another animal, making do, carrying on, sometimes sitting, loving the moonlight. As for the light.... it is magnificent, and it calls to i remember my own times sitting with Steve in the moonlight on the beach in Samoa. Waves gentle, and crabbies scuttling. That photo of yours just zoomed me back to that space of ours. Hehe, i like the pic of Lucy protesting getting changed. Memories. Thanks for sharing lady. xoxo
Heather said…
Wow great pictures!! and it looks like a fabulous family trip! It looks like you guys figured out already how to have a great trip when you have children along. You have to be flexible :) Enjoy the rest of your journey Love Heather
dolly anna said…
lucy is a magic little lady.
i love the black and white picture of her at the opening.

(and i know the woes of too little padding, teething babies, and sore sore hips.... tis my nightly song.)

she's got some plumpies (thighs) on her, i love it. i feel it has been toooo long since i have seen her, or you, and here she is all big and stuff. she's going to love this blog when she's older (god willing the google doesn't crash in the meantime). she'll look back in wonder at the radness and wildness of her upbringing.

the moon rising in the desert, how glorious, how sating

next time i roll out on the road i might have to mix in some of that funky righteous music....

can't wait to see more of your rad spirit quest!

Matt Beatty said…
first off, I love mourning doves passionately. I never knew their call before living here, but most mornings now i awake to mourning doves and black capped chickadees calling and it's welcoming and soothing, not a better sound in all the world.

this post really moved me, it's SO beautiful there where you were, i want to be there right now. lucy is such a gorgeous, curious girl, you two are the greatest parents. i am really aching with longing! we need more family-gathered campouts, even on smaller scales. i love your idea of a Pinnacles / Big Sur family trip next year, or sooner, or anytime. love you.

Popular posts from this blog

Twin Lakes Tradition

pretty baby

Anniversary Paradise - part 1