Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving memory

Today is Thanksgiving 2008, well, not for millions of turkeys, but that's beside the point. Turkeys taste good and are not intelligent enough to organize a revolt against tradition.

I have a favorite Thanksgiving memory. For several consecutive years I spent Thanksgiving at Joshua Tree National Monument, usually taking a friend along for the weekend. In 1993, Scott Cattanach and I arrived at Hidden Valley late wednesday night and planted our tent in the brush behind some guys' suburban. We took a midnight jaunt in the desert, marveling at the night sky, the crisp air, and our high-grade smoke.

The next day, Thanksgiving, we climbed a little. It turned out that Scott didn't seem to think that clinging to a cliff by his fingernails wasall that much fun. I did not know this about him. Got to hand it to him though, not only was he open-minded enough to try, but he knew how to assert himself. So we hiked about and saw lots of cool desert stuff. I don't recall what we made for Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe it had mushrooms in it. I don't know. It was crystal clear and frosty when we sacked out.

I woke up slowly, warmly. I gradually became aware that the morning was absolutely silent. Scott was stirring next to me when I noticed that the roof of the tent was more dark than usual, and that it sagged a bit, as if weighted down. A little confused, I unzipped the tent, rolled onto my belly and, looking outside, saw almost a foot of gorgeous champagne powder blanketing everything. I was stunned. I had seen snow in the desert, but this took my breath away. I know Scott felt the same.

Well we got up. Neither of us had brought real cold weather clothes, but that didn't keep us from sliding around in the snow like little kids. The rock formations of Hidden Valley look even more surreal under a blanket of white. Under grey skies, with snow still falling, the joshua trees and chollas looked like spiky snow puffs protruding from a white plane.

We couldn't resist the urge to drive around and see more of the park. We piled into my little crap car and went slipping and sliding out to Barker Dam. The sight of all that snow on the desert blew me away. We pulled a couple of donuts in the Barker parking lot, in front of a ranger, before zipping over to Real Hidden Valley for more fun.

That was a really special memory, never mind that it happened to be Thanksgiving. Maybe at Christmas I'll describe the moose-meat spagetti that was the yule supper of 2004, dished up in the Life Is Good Camp.

1 comment:

  1. dave that was an awesome trip with great memories. you always had great adventures whenever we were out in nature. good times, good times.