Here is what I love most about the desert: I don't think we are supposed to be there. We are only guests, permitted to stay for a short while before time rejects our presence and leaves us behind, thirsty. This is a tough environment, everything about this place screams out "take a look and get going." There is no water, there is rarely shade from the intense sun, the temperature swings a solid 65 degrees between day and night, and it seems like every plant and animal out there is just waiting for a chance to poke or sting us. We deserve to be humbled out here, and respect the ecosystem that thrives without (and oftentimes in spite of) us. This is our chance to be alone, to be quiet, and to remember that although we might be totally amazing, we are also really small.
Another thing to remember is your camping stove, chairs, chef's table, and box of wine. And your travel chess set for when it's 7pm, dark, you've already danced to everything on your Spotify "glamping" playlist, and you feel like going to sleep so early is going to result in waking up at 3am ready to start the day.
There are strange and wild places out here where you glimpse an attempted structure or even settlement that is now abandoned and slowly dissolving back into the original landscape. A beautiful example of this is the town of Zzyzx, California. Spencer was totally excited to explore this place because apparently, "Zzyzx" is (or at one time was) the very last word in the dictionary. In the 1950's Zzyzx opened as an upscale resort and health spa with a huge water fountain, pool, exclusive cabins, the works. In the 1970's it closed and fell into disrepair. More recently the BLM has designated this area as the California State University Desert Studies Center. The whole story can be found here, if you're interested. Walking around the area we saw eroded fountains, empty buildings with cracked walls, untrimmed palm trees, and all the evidence of a ghost town reclaimed by the surrounding sand.