Sunday, December 06, 2009

Camping in the Desert (Updated)

Our first night out both cars hit soft sand, just as we were getting to our campground. Rather than have the last rays of sun for setting up camp, we worked until dark digging the cars out. Thank goodness for shovels and sand ladders.

That night the wind picked up and blew sand relentlessly. It wasn't a zero-visibility, can't-breathe-because-of-the-sand, kind of sand storm, but it was enough to blow these drifts around our landcruiser.

The next morning I climbed a dune and took this picture of our campsite. The landcruiser was just uphill of this, pointing down so we could benefit from the headlights as we set up camp.

Once we got moving we noticed two things about the acacia trees we came across. First, almost every one of them had a camel skeleton beneath it.

Second, almost every one of them had a hawk or eagle nest atop it.

And guess what this is - that's right; it's another camel hair ball. This one isn't mineralized, so it hasn't become a bezoar stone like the one I mention a couple posts below. This one was fuzzy like a tennis ball and not completely round.

Here's our camp site for the rest of the trip.
Notice how both cars are sitting on top of the sand, instead of under it. The wind died down and the rest of the trip was celebrated with almost totally sand-free meals. Speaking of meals, you can see Scott and Paul setting up the field kitchen. To the right, almost out of the picture, you can see our camp fire, just waiting for darkness and a match.

This was the sunrise the following morning. Morning, Evening, middle of the night, the sky was spectacular. The moon was full while we were out, and so bright it cast sharp shadows. After it set though, the stars came out in that profusion that I've seen only in deep deserts. I awoke, once, to head for the designated potty dune, and was rewarded by a couple shooting stars that left dazzling streaks across the the sparkling sky. I'd forgotten, living as I do in a land where the night sky is diminished by artificial light, that absent that man-made illumination, the stars actually do twinkle, and appear in a variety of colors. The rediscovery was well worth whatever price I paid in loss of sleep.

I meant to smile. I thought I was smiling. I was having a great time. Really.

I think I was concentrating on aiming the camera. That's a look of concentration, not a scowl. No wonder people sometimes think I'm angry with them when I'm not. I'll have to work on that.


Keith Miller said...

Great pics Steven! I wish I was camping with you there. When I was a scout, we called sand "Beaufort seasoning" from a campout on a treeless island. And, that is a pretty serious smile you got going on there. :)

Steven Givler said...

"Beaufort seasoning" - that's perfect. I'll have to remember that one.

And thanks; I don't want to be grinning like an idiot, you know.