Wow- this week we’ve been here in the hi-desert for two years! It feels so right being here.
I remember when the actual opportunity finally came to make the move- after 23 years of living in the city (Long Beach- a city we still love…) I talked to my boss at the time, who had just come back from a living-in-the-desert adventure herself- (in Arizona- but it wasn’t meant it be for her and her guy) and I expressed my anxieties, “what if we just THINK we want to do this?” I remember her saying, “then you come back. We did.” So simple. Yes. If anything, it’s an adventure.
We’d done that before. Jon and I moved to Minneapolis for a year and 1/2 after we’d known each other for only 10 months- and decided we liked southern California after all. But what a super-cool time we had… it was like a year and 1/2 long honeymoon in a 100% different world than we had thus far experienced.
I realized- it doesn’t have to be either/or… if we don’t go for it now- when will we? We can always come back. Long Beach will still be here.
Above: Photo I took in downtown LB on my last day of work.
We decided to go for it in mid-November. 20 days from that moment we would be living in the hi-desert.
Meanwhile- I had nightmares (literally) of sinking into the soft sand and getting stuck on the 3 mile sandy road we had to go down to get to our little cabin in the boulders- or our U-Haul tipping over with all of our belongings in it on moving day.
Our closest neighbor in the desert would be several football fields away. We were used to sharing a wall and floor with our neighbors in our 4-plex in Long Beach. Would it be scary living “in the middle of nowhere”?
Above: See our cabin? Photo by Kelly Ray
The desert is fun to go venture out into for a long weekend- but to LIVE there? 24 hours a day 7 days a week?! When it’s blazing hot and freezing cold? …and we’ll be (serious) hi-desert- like 4500-ish ft. up- there will be snow. What if we get snowed in? Our only heat source will be a wood-burning stove. How do you keep it warm throughout the night? How much wood do we need to get through the winter? How long will a cord of wood last?
These are some of the thoughts that whirled through my mind in the days leading up to the move. When we actually moved in- a whole other bunch of unanswered questions whirled about… how do we communicate with the outside world when our cell phones get zero reception in our cabin and we can’t get WiFi because we are surrounded by boulders which block the signal? No phone company would put a land-line in. It wasn’t an available option.
Turns out satellite internet was our saving grace communication-wise. But if the electricity goes out- which is way more common than expected- then the satellite internet doesn’t work. Also- our water. We get our water delivered via water truck- 2000 gallons at a time. How long does 2000 gallons last? And then when the electricity goes out- the water pump doesn’t work. So not only do we not have electricity, but we have no running water. So these things are major realities of actual living in the desert for us.
We quickly realized that water is frickin’ PRECIOUS. I mean, I know this is true when we lived in the city. But when we pay for every drop- at $120 for 2000 gallons which lasts approximately a month (give or take a week or two in either direction depending on the weather)… we can’t help but be super-aware of every drop of water we use. And we figure out ways to make it last longer.
We thought living here would be cheaper- and yes- the rent maybe. But add the filling of the water tank and buying cords of wood and the gas it takes to travel to go to a decent laundromat (25 miles to Joshua Tree) or a 90 mile round trip to get to Trader Joe’s or a Target- it amounts to about the same.
All of this came into play… and you know what? It all just falls into place- we figure it out- we adjust… because every day when I wake up and see the morning light hit the boulders that surround me on all sides and I “hear” the silence that at first buzzes my brain it’s so quiet… and I witness the (reoccurring) desert sunrise that blows my mind so hard I’m late for work because I can’t pull myself away… it’s all worth it.
We are becoming familiar with the flora and fauna that we are part of now- constantly marveling at the shifts in the weather and the intoxicating smell when the rain comes and the fact that nature outweighs our existence a hundred times over… and we witness the presence of coyotes, bobcats, quail families, cottontails and jackrabbits, owls, scrub jays, red-tailed hawks, roadrunners, rosy boas, rattlesnakes, lizards, tarantulas and…
We are in awe and humbled and grateful and there’s no going back. We’re hooked. We are one with this wild beautiful bleak mind-blowing far-out experience and we wouldn’t trade it for anything.
2 years is just the beginning…