Visits to deserts have often been a part of my life. I was raised traveling to them, led by a father who could have been a “Desert Rat” but for needing to make a living. We traveled east out of Los Angeles, past the Whitewater River, into the open, high, solitary air, going to the Colorado desert or off to Saratoga Springs in Death Valley. Then here I was, on another wide plain with sagebrush scrub at and then past me to the west, crashing into the base of white granite scarps that looked like they’d been popped up out a toaster. I was hearing a creek, rushing down to the east, past me, toward a lake alive with flocks of birds in continual motion, a lake in the sagebrush. The plain was the Great Basin Desert. The granite was the eastern crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The creek was Lee Vining Creek. The lake was Mono Lake. I was in the Mono Basin in eastern California, at the boundary of two earthly kingdoms, desert and mountain, each with an “immense breadth” (Robinson Jeffers).
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