Weather Report From the Outpost

My love woke me up yesterday morning by saying “look at the fog…” and then drifted right back to sleep. I opened my eyes towards the picture window. It was all white. Usually we have a view. I got up and threw cozy stuff on and went outside to take a pano… it was raining and we were boxed in with fog. We’d never seen that before here at the Outpost. Usually we could see past Joshua Tree clear down the 62 all the way to Twentynine Palms.

The creosote smell was thick and heavy and delicious. I went back in but I couldn’t go back to sleep- it was too unusual. Too beautiful. I lit a fire in the woodburner and snuggled with our pup. I put coffee on. 

The rain hesitated and the fog slowly pulled back and I could see the familiar highway below. The sun tried to break through for a moment and put up a good fight for about 15 minutes. The sunlight illuminated every drop of rain clinging to all the desert plants like tiny crystals.

Then low dark ominous clouds started moving in stealthily and laid thickly over the valley and it started to rain again. The clouds were moving dramatically but they didn’t seem to know where they were going… I watched them for a long while- my hands wrapped around my coffee mug for warmth.

The wind finally started to whip up- we’d been hearing about the wind warning for days. The rain hesitated again and I decided to quickly take our pup for an early walk. I could see a wall of the thickest darkest storm clouds yet rolling in and headed towards us. 

Outside wind-blown Suki unexpectedly turned into a turbo pup and turbo’d high speed around the cabin three times without stopping- so cute- her back legs were almost ahead of her front legs. I was running after her in Jon’s big parka and hood just laughing and trying to keep up which was impossible. She turbo’d up into the hills and I called out so she’d wait for me- I didn’t want her to bump into any roaming wet and hungry coyotes.

I have the habit of calling Suki a pup- but really she’s 11 years old. I haven’t seen her turbo like that in at least three years or so. We got back inside just in time for the real storm to began.

The clouds were becoming less interesting now- just solid grey. A steady heavy rain blew past our big picture window in windy waves. Jon was awake now and I showed him the photos I took earlier when the fog and clouds and landscape were distinct. It felt cozy inside. The Outpost weathers storms well.

The rain eventually got lighter and lighter and the desert sun successfully broke through. A low arching and very brief rainbow appeared… followed by the clearest crisp air you could imagine. You could see for at least 30 miles down the highway and beyond.

What a nice change it was from the usual desert dry. I looked back out the picture window and thought- I hope you drank deeply hi-desert… while you had the chance. There are rumors of more rain headed our way- we shall see…

 

Photo Rewind – Early December

Dec. 1st – My loves…

 

Dec. 1st – Hello, Friday. Hello, moon. Hello, good friends…

 

Dec. 3rd – The flannel road. Cozy Suki.

 

Dec. 3rd – Sunday night. Sitting by a blazing fire with a beer being read to. Cat’s Cradle. Vonnegut is sooo good… dang. I know I already love him, and have for a long time, but I forgot just how much. Fugging brilliant! 😜

 

Dec. 6th – Wood-burner and the rising sun. First night we’ve kept it going all night! Cozy at the outpost…

 

Dec. 8th – If Flo is “ded”… well, you’ve been warned.

 

Dec. 8th – So guess what we’ve been doing for 1,461 days? Livin’ in the hi-desert! That’s right- it’s our 4 year anniversary of being here- and as you might have heard- we ❤️ it!!!

 

Dec. 9th – Goes well with anywhere. Especially here! ❤️🍻 Happy hour with Uinta Hop Nosh IPA’s…

 

Dec. 12th – “I know where happiness lives…” – John the handyman

 

Dec.12th – Listening to The Jam and Christmas cardin’ and beer drinkin’…

 

2:34 A.M.

It’s 2:34 a.m. 

The time just changed tonight- so I guess it’s really 3:34 a.m.

The only sounds are the crackling fire, my love’s sleeping rhythmic breath, and an owl outside making whoots… like “who who whooo who…” 

Most of the day I spent doing loads of laundry, cuddling with my pup in the sun and hiking around with her. 

Above: Blooming creosote

Jon went to visit the artist Uli Boege and bring him the mock-up of his art book… and then Jon wrote, and wrote some more. 

We had happy hour in the late afternoon sun while Suki hunted for lizards in the wood pile.

I made creamy garlic mushroom soup for dinner with toasty sourdough rolls… super tasty yum.

I grabbed a random box of what appeared to be mostly early 90’s stuff and marveled at the memories within…

Above: Manipulated Polaroid from back in the day…

Just a day. A weekend day. Nothing extraordinary. 

But it’s heaven. 
Heaven right here.

 

(Almost Exactly) 5 Years Ago Yesterday

I am hanging out with my love under the stars around fire-pit… it’s the perfect temperature and breezeless. Shadows are dancing on a pile of a freshly delivered wood next to us…

We are reminiscing about the last time we were sitting around a crackling fire camping in the hi-desert. It seems so long ago. So long ago because we basically stopped camping when we moved here. We felt like we’d moved into the National Park when we landed in Gamma Gulch. It was better than camping. We had a whole little cabin instead of just a tent, smack in the middle of endless gigantic boulders- and right out the front door were hiking possibilities in several directions. 

Better than camping. Our Gamma Gulch cabin.

 

So the last time we sat around a crackling campfire at a campsite… was almost exactly 5 years ago today at Hidden Valley Campground in the Park. It was our anniversary week… there was an unseasonably cold front storm warning for that evening- and wow did it live up to it- we’d only experienced mildly chilly desert nights up to that point. Late night it got crazy windy and crazy cold and rained like a mad dog- our portable thermometer read 33 degrees in our tent. 

We wrapped the pups in a down comforter and lay zipped up in our 20 degree bags with the air so cold on our faces it almost stung. We weren’t used to this. We woke up to frozen water bottles and realized- the desert can get COLD. Very cold. 

Pups waking up after the 33 degree night.

 

That day it warmed right back up though- and was so clear and so fresh our city eyes and lungs didn’t even know what to do…

After the storm.

 

We hiked around and imagined what it would be like to actually live in the desert… a conversation that had been ongoing for at least 5 years… discussing different aspects and wonderments and puzzlements… we had no idea that just a little over a year later we would live here! 

Now here we are at the Outpost- our second dwelling place in hi-desert… with a view that knocks our flip-flops off and astounds us everyday. With a porch that constantly beckons us to hang out and behold the view as the light and colors subtly shift and change across that vast expanse we’d been longing for. 

Here we are around a crackling fire under the stars not so much dreaming as we are appreciating this exact moment. So happy to realize that we love living here all year round and being hi-desert people as much as we hoped we would- even more actually… even our pup Suki has proven to be the ultimate desert dog. (The only thing she misses is eating grass- so we have a little pot of organic grass for her to nibble which she loves- and is much healthier than the pesticide-ridden lawn grass she used to munch.)

Suki and her desert grass.

 

We drove home 5 years ago after camping feeling crestfallen and wondering- why does this desert heaven always have to come to an end? Can’t we figure out how to stay? Of course, the rest is history… 

-by Tania

 

Reveling

I am sitting in the sun absorbing the warmth on the boulders. The shift has come. The shift from moving out of the sun, to into the sun. All of us hi-desert folk are reveling in this perfect moment. We talk about it on break at work outside, and we talk about it with friends and neighbors.

The swamp coolers are off, windows and screen doors are wide open… it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold. Gone are the months of living in nothing but yoga pants, flip flops and a t-shirt. We add a layer to our outfits. We feel strange with pants that hit our ankles.

We marvel that the breeze has a hint of cool in it. We scrutinize last years tiny pile of leftover firewood and contemplate if it’s too early to get a cord delivered. We take our dogs on extra long walks.

This middle ground doesn’t last too long. So we revel in this glorious slice of perfect weather goodness, hoping it will last for as long as possible…

Three Months At The Outpost!

So we’ve lived here at the outpost three months today! I never imagined I could- or would- love anywhere more than the Gulch… but I do. (We do!)
 
The Gulch was a dream that became a reality for us. It took that little cabin surrounded by those boulders to pull us out of LB and into the hi-desert. When I think about it now I think- “we were so brave!” I am so happy we made the jump and didn’t chicken out at the last minute. 
 
We’ve only fallen more in love with the hi-desert with every passing day since our U-haul rolled on down that 3 mile long sandy road into the heart of the Gulch… 
 
The Outpost. I also never imagined that we’d live somewhere with fewer people passing by than the Gulch! We do not cross paths with anyone here… like, no one. Like, ever. 
 
 
We now have a view that I marvel at basically every waking moment I am here- my eyes are constantly feasting on the expanse stretched out before us… the morning sunrise breaking across the horizon and the light shifting throughout the day across the desert landscape… then the fading light of late afternoon and the shadow that creeps across the valley and then the highway, and across into Joshua Tree and finally over the mountains. Then the twinkling of lights begins to appear- we can see Highway 62 winding all the way to Twentynine Palms.
 
 
We had 3 1/2 years of being surrounded by immense boulders- it was amazing… but this is what our eyes need to see now. What our souls need- expanse.
 
It’s hotter here at the outpost… probably at least 5 degrees warmer than the Gulch- but we’re about 1000 feet lower, so it makes sense. 
 
 
The space. We are in love with the space we exist in, inside this cabin! It’s… perfect. A big, open space for us to create in, hang out in, contemplate and collaborate in… and invite people over to enjoy with us. It’s all windows and view- no curtains needed. 
 
 
 
 
We tripped out when we moved here how each item found it’s place to be. Everything fit perfectly.
 
The critters. I thought the Gulch had a lot of critters! We have all the same critters as there, (minus the mountain lions- which I don’t mind leaving behind) plus the two tortoises we’ve had visit! We’d never seen a tortoise in the wild before coming here. We have way more roadrunners- and they are very curious about us. If Suki didn’t bark at them- one, in particular, would come on in the cabin and hang out, we’re sure of it. 
 
 
 
Speaking of Suki- she loves it here. I think she’s energized by it. She’s like a 10-year-old puppy. We’ve only had one negative incident with a big beavertail cactus (see above) that she leaped into head first after a lizard- and ended up with a nose full of tiny almost microscopic stickers… (which weren’t fun to try and remove) as well as itty-bitty spikes sprinkled throughout her fur. Jon and I ended up with those little bastard stickers stuck in our palms and fingers. Oy! Needless to say- we have a small makeshift fence around that beavertail now. Other than that- she is thoroughly entertained by the environment she finds herself in. 
 
 
We’re surrounded by Creosote bushes and Junipers, Chollas and Joshua trees, Yuccas… we have Datura and a Palo Verde tree- and so many more growing things I’d have to go for another couple of paragraphs- but I won’t. 
 
 
One of the very best things is the covered patio… we had no shade at the Gulch. The sun can blaze, or the rain can fall, and we can be outside- gazing off past the “two margarita fence” (a tale for another time) into the desert, content and inspired.
 
 
Here is Jon (below) extolling the virtues of a covered patio.
 
 
Did I mention we are actually closer to Pappy and Harriet’s now? It used to take us 19 minutes from the Gulch, and now it takes us 13 minutes! 
 
We’ve had three months of feeling so grateful and blown away to be here at the Outpost- and appreciating every single moment of it… and we know, this is just the beginning :)!
 

Emmy: Memoir of a Flemish Immigrant

Super-exciting news!!! My 104 year old grandmother’s memoir is hot off the press TODAY! Jon designed and published it and is honored to put this out on Traveling Shoes Press!

We’d love it if you bought her book- this is the tale of an amazing woman who lived through World War I and World War II and is still going strong…

Click on the link below to go to her website and read more about it and order the book!!! Thank you 🙂

http://travelingshoespress.com/emmy/

Jon posted this on Facebook:

Today I accomplished a major goal of mine!

We published Tania’s 104 year-old grandmother Emmy’s memoir of going through World War I & II and then immigrating to the USA in the early 1950’s. She’s a great storyteller and I’ve been honored to have worked with her and her daughter Nora designing and laying out the book!

Working on projects like this is why Traveling Shoes Press exists.

Visit Emmy’s book website, read the first chapter, see photos of Emmy and then order her book! 🙂

Cactus Bloom

Look at this beautiful nightbloom!!! My coworker Shawn gave it to us on Friday for a housewarming gift (that’s the first pic) and then 4 days later- WOW!!!

I just want to stare at this cactus bloom all day long it’s so beautiful…

– photos by Tania

The Outpost

We’ve officially named our new cabin “The Outpost.”

First Friday night living here at the outpost! Happy hour at the red bench 🙂 freshly repainted and moved inside today- Thank you for making it a fun event Shawn and Sara and Kin JT and Elizabeth!!!

– photos by Tania

I’ll Miss You Battle Bunny

You know one of the things I will miss most about the gulch? Battle Bunny.

Hands down.

She has a huge bite out of her ear. Something tried to take her down- a coyote? A bobcat? A mountain lion?

Oh my Lord I love battle bunny!!! I’ve been in love with this cottontail for over 2 years- she doesn’t run when I open the front door- she stands her ground and stares at me dead on- unafraid- confident- approving of my existence.

It’s an inner-species communication… we stare at each other in pure admiration. I am sometimes late to work because of this bunny.

This bunny rules! I want to take this bunny to our new cabin- yet I know she has her whole family here and of course I would never… but I admit- my heart literally aches thinking of not connecting with this wild sweet creature…

I appreciate you Battle Bunny. I will miss you.

Dirt Road Etiquette

We were lucky enough to have a fabulous neighbor instruct us on the ways of the dirt roads when we first arrived here.
 
We live 3 miles up a dirt/sandy road and I think everyone traversing these roads needs to know the following things: (it will make things better for everyone…)
 
• When you are driving down a dirt road- anyone you pass by- wave to them! It doesn’t have to be a high energy wave- just an acknowledgement, like “hey- you’re on a dirt road- I’m on a dirt road- cool.” 
 
• If you’re not used to dirt/sandy  roads and you feel like you’re going to sink or get stuck (which we thought the first couple times we drove down the gulch) or you feel like you’re going to mess up your car’s suspension so you’re driving all slow and petrified- if someone comes up behind you who obviously doesn’t suffer from the same anxieties you do- the first chance you get- pull over and let the more experienced desert road driver pass by. You’ll feel more relaxed and so will they. And you won’t sink or get stuck… believe me. We haven’t once since we’ve lived here.
 
• If you have the opposite problem- and you are blazing down the dirt road as if it’s blacktop- when you drive by a house just off the road- slow the heck down! If you don’t- you will create a cloud of dust and sand that will completely engulf that person’s house. That’s just plain rude. 
 
• Desert visitors don’t seem to respect “private property” signs. If it says “private property” that means- someone owns it and you can’t wander around and do whatever you want. Even if it looks abandoned but has a private property sign on it- stay off. Respect the property- it’s not yours. As much as you wouldn’t want strangers wandering through your backyard. 
 
 
• If you’re on a one-way dirt road- and there is another car coming straight at you- don’t play chicken- be the cool person and be the first one to pull over the first chance you get. 
 
So there it is. Due to my daily experience I thought it needed to be shared- many people don’t seem to have a clue- and you wouldn’t know if someone didn’t share- right?! 
 
Safe travels all!!!