• Adventures,  California,  Featured,  National Parks,  U.S.A.

    Mojave National Preserve: Terra & the Tarantula

    It’s National Park Week! The U.S. National Park Service oversees nearly 425 sites. This includes not just our fabled national parks, but national monuments, preserves, battlefields and historic sites, too. So far, I’ve explored 110 of those sites. I’ve hit a few of the big ones, like Yellowstone, Denali and the Grand Canyon, and lots and lots of little sites in between. Since I can’t get out and explore the parks this week, I’m sharing stories instead, like this one from a visit to Mojave National Preserve back in 2019. Terra & the Tarantula The first time I visited Mojave National Preserve, I was just passing through. It was at…

  • Adventures,  California,  National Parks,  U.S.A.

    That Time I Fell & Smashed My Face in Desolation Canyon

    On my second day in Death Valley, I tripped over my own feet, landed on my face and left a puddle of blood in Desolation Canyon. Really, I’m a little surprised it took me so long to hurt myself while alone in the wilderness. I am clumsy. I trip often and without reason. Sometimes my ankles roll out from under me, just for fun, as if they have better things to do than keep me upright. I am forever knocking into things, dinging myself lightly on furniture, cabinetry, sun shades and dog paws. I stab myself in the eye with a mascara wand at least once a week, never mind…

  • Adventures,  California,  National Parks,  U.S.A.

    Death Valley’s Ubehebe Peak & the Tremendous Power of Solitude

    I found the trail two years ago, back in 2018 when I first visited Death Valley National Park. It wasn’t a planned hike. I didn’t even know there was a trail there, didn’t even know what it was called. As soon as I saw it though, I knew I was meant to take it. I’d followed a long, winding, bumpy, gravel and pit-ridden road for 26 miles to get there, to get to the Racetrack. It’s this far-flung and magical place in Death Valley. It’s a place where stones float themselves across the floor of the desert, gouging a path as they go. It’s a place where you can be…

  • California,  National Parks,  U.S.A.

    The Feral Power of Mojave National Preserve

    I wasn’t 10 minutes into the park when I felt the overwhelming need to remove my bra. It wasn’t the right kind of bra for such an adventure. It was a polite society bra, the kind you wear to the grocery store, to dinner, to work, to anywhere but the wild. It wasn’t a bra I could sweat in, and, given my arrival into the desert, it was time to sweat. I could have stopped, sure. I could have pulled over on the side of the road, hopped into the back of my car and completed a quick, modest bra change. I could have waited until getting to the visitor…

  • Adventures,  California,  National Parks,  U.S.A.

    Mojave National Preserve, Teutonia Peak, Cima Dome & the Joshua trees

    I’m not always great at slowing down when I travel. When I visit a national park, I want to see all the things and hike all the trails and explore as many nooks and crannies of the place as I possibly can. So I go and go and go until I collapse into a dreamless sleep around 9 p.m. only to wake up before the sun the next day and do it all again.  I’ve tried, over the years, to chill the fuck out and relax my travel style. It’s mostly worked. I’ve learned a few tricks, like creating an extremely limited, prioritized list of what I want to do…