Monday, February 23, 2015
Scenery Snobbery 101
Having gone to the bother of driving 37 miles to Joshua'a south entry/Visitor's Center waaaaaay over on the opposite (and more desolate) side of the park—a journey that rivals a Mars mission if one abides the 35 mph speed limit—it made sense to go ahead and check off the 8 mile traipse to Lost Palms Oasis. Recall, that the primary goal was to frisk clues from some "loose-lipped," kinder-gentler Mr Ranger Sir, regarding the secret whereabouts of the old miner's campsite. Alas, sometimes my posts are in chronological order; sometimes they're not.
Now, if you will indulge a manly man mini rant. As you know, ladies, most men would rather be water-boarded than go 35 freaking mph on a newly paved, gently serpentining, scenery-less stretch of asphalt that would be perfectly safe at 60 (which, to us, means we can go 80). Driving 35 mph on such a road is akin to getting a gift subscription to Penthouse Magazine after a prostatectomy. Pitiful and useless. A merciful death from "natural causes" is far more likely than achieving one's destination when traveling 35 mph, and it would be a preferable death. But Mr Ranger Sirs were out in force, I assume to generate additional revenue to finance another war in the Middle East (political promises are always subject to revision once you sit on the Throne). So our little pokey man outing felt more like an odyssey… like being trapped in a slow-motion "bizarro world" version of Smokey and the Bandit, or being forced to listen to a 78 rpm version of "Boogie Wooggie Choo Choo" played at 33 and a third.
Driving a curve-hugging all-wheel-drive Subaru, or anything resembling a sports car for that matter, through Joshua's desolate section subjects men to a near lethal dose of exasperation, which, by-the-way, would be a more devious and befitting way to execute murderous inmates on death row… unless they were wrongly convicted.
And, as if the 35 mph speed limit wasn't enough, I had to humble myself to the brink of growing ovaries to Mr Ranger Sir in order to extort a single clue about the miner's shack. With tiny clue in hand, we set off to do the (insert harp music here) Lost Palm Oasis hike, a name that made me half expect there might be a resort of some sort, waiting at the trails end.
But no. Instead, it was a shadeless Bataan Death March, an "exorcise" in desolation. Finally, on the verge of sunstroke, we tumbled down into Lost Palm Oasis canyon, a place where reality didn't quite meet minimum criteria for "oasis." Unusual, as in out of place? Yes. Oasis? Not so much. It was a rattlesnake bite waiting to happen, hot as it was and tramping through tall grass and dead palm fronds. The palms had propagated for a good mile downstream, if a trickle of green slime water can be mistaken for a "stream." They were untidy trees, to say the least… some in dire need of "haircuts." It gave them an angry appearance that reminded me of a staggering line of homeless men, long off their meds, wandering aimlessly.
This "oasis" was oppositional to what I had imagined… you know, the old blue water/white beach stereotype, with Polynesian girls in coconut bras and grass skirts serving fruity cocktails with tiny umbrellas. Instead, I was wading through knee-high scrub grass, waiting for a venomous snake to sink his fangs deep into my nicely tanned calf muscle. I longed to be back at Jumbo Rocks, with its uncanny piles of anthropomorphic granite boulders, caught in the act of balance, tilt, bridge, and fall—all the ridiculous postures assumed when ground-support slowly melts out from under.
Erosion is such a beautiful thing in Joshua. It allowed us to glimpse entire bouldered mountains in the act of falling down.