The Desert Wind

Darwin, Bowie and myself are currently stationed on the edge of the Mojave Desert close to Ridgecrest, California. We have two very awesome friends who are full-time artists that have a studio on five acres of pure desert. We are surrounded by the tail end of the Sierra Nevada Mountain chain. It is quiet and still. Cool in the mornings, somewhat hot in the afternoons, then chilly in the evenings. Idyllic for the desert, that is until today.

Starting last night the wind picked up. We are used to this as Albuquerque can also be very windy especially in the spring. We tied down our awnings in preparation for the wind only to have them whipped up an hour later as the wind grew stronger. After readjusting our poles and stakes we waved our white flag and rolled up the awnings in defeat.

The wind continued throughout the night waking me periodically as The Box (our camper) rocked and squeaked against the wind. The wind continued into the morning. Like waves of an ocean, sand and dirt would roll off the desert floor into The Box, Me, The Stallion, or whatever else stood against it. The sand and dirt felt like needles to my bare skin. The winds clouded my eyes with desert debris and when trying to walk, forced my body to go where it the wind, so desired. Like an unwanted visitor, it swung wide our front door with such force the door hinges were bent leaving behind a door no longer able to close.

Even now as I sit and type this, the wind blows stronger than it has all day. The sand crackles against the Box’s walls. Continuous waves of sand, dirt, and sticks seem to have a goal of trying to topple our little home over. Bowie and I watch from a window as Creosotes bow their limbs to such velocity. Not a Crow cries out, all that can be heard is the wailing of the wind.


Things To Expect In Up Coming Posts, Recent Other Doings, and Further Thoughts:

***To the lady who asked how I pee in the woods on Darwin’s Q&A please email me! We have lost your contact info!***

Book Review/Discussion On “A Walk For Sunshine” By Jeff Alt – Coming Soon!

Recently We’ve Spent A Lot Of Time On The Arizona Trail. Have You Heard Of This Trail? Want To Learn More? Click Here

Keep It Wild and Beautiful, Leave No Trace!

Check Out Our Etsy Store!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Camping With Kids

Negligence In A National Forest

Goodbye Albuquerque!

Camping With Kids

While out on the road, Darwin and I were able to meet up with two really good friends and their two kids. We spent two weeks with them exploring Joshua Tree National Park, Salton Sea, and The International Banana Museum, amongst various other places. It was neat to be around to small children during these two weeks. Yes, it seems children can be demanding of your attention and in need of everything but it was awesome to see them experience the world, at times having no fear but only wonder.

We joined the family for Emma and Finn’s first camping trip in Joshua Tree and I think I was more excited than the kids. The adults, of course, set up camp while the kids explored close by. Inadvertently they began picking up trash while playing in the sand. They collected numerous bottle caps and pieces of plastic. Just recently I wrote a post about doing a similar task and was outraged I had to do it. The kids, however, found this to be like a treasure hunt, trying to find the most caps.

We all watched as a small Jack-Rabbit investigated us from a close but safe distance. The kids were amazed, Emma was even squealing with excitement, “he’s so cute!” Finn discovered a dung beetle and was entertained by the task of trying to get him to walk on a stick. The rocks in the section of Joshua Tree known as “Jumbo Rocks” proved to be nothing but a natural playground for the kids. Finn loved to climb and run a small distance ahead of us trying to tackle the biggest of the rocks to show his strength. Emma was right behind him knowing no limits not even expressing any fear until she had to come back down.

Sitting around the fire that night the adults took on the task of protecting Finn from the mesmerizing lull of the fire. Like most small children he wanted to touch, poke, and feed the flames. We enjoyed the classics hot dogs (chili dogs for the adults) and S’mores for dessert. Something about that thick gooey mess of sugar is still sickeningly beautiful for me (even though I can only get down one in my older years). After dinner, the kids got in their PJs becoming intoxicated by adventure, sugar, and the soothing flicker of the campfire. They romped around in the tent before going to bed under the eerie haze of a blue glow stick.

Darwin and I enjoyed being an Uncle and Aunt these last weeks. I honestly couldn’t get enough cartoons, Legos, tag, and rock collecting. Kids are brutally honest and naturally curious about everything. I am not sure if I would enjoy living in the world of children full time but visiting that world was truly a treat.


IMG_1000 copy

(Finn & Emma Exploring A Hidey-Hole) 

Things To Expect In Up Coming Posts, Recent Other Doings, and Further Thoughts:

Future Book Review/Discussion On “A Walk For Sunshine” By Jeff Alt – Coming Soon!

Recently We’ve Spent A Lot Of Time On The Arizona Trail. Have You Heard Of This Trail? Want To Learn More? Click Here

Keep It Wild and Beautful, Leave No Trace!

Check Out Our Etsy Store!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

There Is No Wrong Way To Experience A Trail

Negligence In A National Forest

Random Thoughts and Happenings While Living in a National Forest…

Things I Learned The First Week Living In A Camper…






There Is No Wrong Way To Experience A Trail

So What Started Out As A Review Turned Out To Be A Little More…

Back in September Darwin and I attended Arizona Trail Days. There I met Sarah Ruth Jansen author, adventurer, teacher, and philosopher. She was promoting her book Pedaling Home One Woman’s Race Across the Arizona Trail along with a few other local authors. I had the opportunity to talk with Sarah about the Arizona Trail, bikepacking and a variety of other adventure related topics. A very adventurous woman, I later find out Sarah has raced and bikepacked for several years having even won the 2012 California State Mountain Bike Championships, she has bikepacked the entire Colorado Trail, and raced the Tour Divide in 2015. Since our meeting, I have read her book and a hundred pages later was reminded that there are lots of different ways to experience long-distance trails. I was also given a different perspective on the trail I have been living so close to the last month.

A Brief History: The Arizona Trail itself is a long distance trail spanning across the entire state of Arizona (800 miles) from the border of Mexico to Utah. This long distance trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, equestrians and other pack animals. The Arizona Trail Race (AZTR) which Pedaling Home is about, is actually an unofficial race. This means there is no entry fee, no support, and no prizes. I immediately think of a thru-hike, no fee to start (depending on the trail), no support along the way (which may vary for each hiker) and no prizes when you finish besides bragging rights. There are two races that take place, the AZTR 300 or 750 both starting on the same day usually in April every year. As of 2016, the 750 race was world’s longest trail bike race which is the one Sarah takes on by choice of her on. I can’t help but think how similar this sounds to a long distance hike. No one pays us to ultimately put our bodies through hell but weirdly, it seems that no matter how we do it, most become addicted to that self-made hell.

Pedaling Home Thoughts: Having only backpacked and having never done a bike race let alone a bike race on a trail, I never realized how similar and yet so different a trail race could be. I love to ride my bike but find I am pretty much a wiener when trying to ride on trails. Sarah’s book however, allowed me a glimpse into the experiences of a trail race. She shares her roller coaster of emotions that any long distance hiker would recognize and relate to: anxiety, excitement, exhaustion, and waves of adrenaline are all present throughout the duration of her race. She deals with issues at home, the death of a loved one, and personal doubts as she rides her way across 750 miles of roads and trail finding comfort in the scenery around her. This is not unlike the long distance hiker finding that the trail heals many wounds.

Sarah describes what I found to be both loves and hate her bike along the way, ultimately seeing it as an extension of herself. I found myself remembering similar thoughts and emotions I have had towards my pack. I hated how unsteady it could make me feel crossing rivers and logs. My first pack on the Appalachian Trail caused me back pain and while in the breaking-in period with my second, I had severe bruises on my hips. The same day I would curse my pack I would also experience a feeling of security and love for it as it held all my belongings, the things I needed to survive. When not with me, I often experienced a feeling of loss. I missed it. Similar to Sarah and her bike I was reminded that my pack is an extension of myself when hiking.

Sarah faces other challenges beyond the emotional during her race. She deals with weather, nourishment issues, and gear failures that even cost her setting the women’s course record and almost her entire race. These challenges are not unknown to a long distance hiker either. As I read along I found myself remembering issues I had with my pack, my poles, rain cover, and various other gear while on the Appalachian Trail.

Although there are fewer rules in regards to thru-hiking (i.e. hike your own hike) it was interesting to me to find Sarah was unable to enjoy a lot of the things long distance hikers enjoy without a second thought or she would have been disqualified. For instance, at one point in her race, she is forced to walk her bike 32 miles to a bike shop further up trail due to a major mechanical issue. Due to race rules, she was unable to accept a hitch up the trail to the bike shop. For a long distance hiker, some would immediately throw out a thumb in the event of a major pack failure (that is if we were first unable to fix it with duck tape). What would have taken less than half the day on a bike takes Sarah an entire day on foot. It’s always torture for any bikepacker or hiker who cannot move as quickly due to injury or gear malfunction.

This part of her book really made me think of all the times I felt I couldn’t continue to hike but came across trail magic and was provided a ride to town, food, shelter, etc. that was enough of a motivator to continue. At times on my hike of the AT, I would have surely quit if not for trail magic. Although some trail magic is allowed but not encouraged, Sarah is left to ultimately deal with her emotions and gear issues on her own the entire race. This at times forces her to enjoy the trail a little slower or challenges her in other physical and mental ways. Long distance hikers often find themselves in similar situations. They begrudgingly tackle trail miles in less than efficient ways only later realizing how much beauty they would have missed if not for being slowed done or forced to stop at a particular time. Often I have referred to this as “second-hand fun”. You only realize how awesome the situation was or bad-ass you are until after the fact.

After riding the trail to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Sarah must break down her bike and strap it to her back before tackling a Rim to Rim hike in one day. Long distance hikers can often be obsessed with the weight they carry on their back; every piece of gear weighed and considered. Sarah however takes no time for either having no choice but to carry her bike per AZTR rules and National Park Regulations. She is only able to deal with the consequences this leaves on her body later. She completes her Rim to Rim in fourteen hours with a whole bike on her back. Funny enough, this is the average time it takes to hike it in a day usually with only a daypack. I can’t help but think of the long-distance hiker planning to be slack packed or at least taking a zero the next day. Sarah toughs it out and continues.

Although Sarah’s book is completely based on her journals and discussions with other participants specifically during her AZTR 700, it gave me the opportunity to see trail life in a different light. I, of course, have only experienced a long distance trail by foot and totally not as a race. I, for the most part, had the luxury of taking my time out on the Appalachian Trail. Sarah chose to experience the AZT within the limitations of a race, having to even ride on reroutes per various wilderness regulations but with the added competitiveness and challenge of really needing to push herself in a very different way then I think a typical long distance hike could provide.

Final Thoughts: Pedaling Home reconfirmed that I am a huge weeny (I would have fallen off my bike within the first thirty minutes) and have no desire to do a trail race on a bike. I must also say I feel Sarah is a total bad-ass and the whole time I was reading her book I not only thought about similar experiences as long-distance hiker but also the thousands of moments I personally would have thrown in the towel when she kept going.

Lesson Learned: After reading Pedaling Home, I was ultimately reminded that there is no wrong way to enjoy the outdoors or a long distance trail. Anyway you hit the trail by foot, by bike, horse, ski, etc. your experience can be beautiful, challenging, soul-searching, an emotional roller coaster and so much more. A trail can be experienced fast or slow, all together or in sections, on foot or bike, with an animal companion, solo or in a group, with ultra-light gear or any gear, etc. The important thing really, is that you get out there and experience it.

Want to read Sarah’s Book Pedaling Home One Woman’s Race Across the Arizona Trail? You can Find It On Amazon at:

Check Out Sarah’s Blog


(Sarah At The South Rim As Featured in Pedaling Home; Photo By Sara Studt

Things To Expect In Up Coming Posts, Recent Other Doings, and Further Thoughts:

Interested in the Arizona Trail Race? Find Out More Here

Interested in experiencing the Arizona Trail? Learn More About It Here

Leave No Trace!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Following The Boot Marks Of Those Before Us

Taking A Look At The Trees & Me




(DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links! This means that if you click on one of the product links and buy something, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps supports Darwin’s YouTube Channel and allows us to continue to make content via the Snuggle Diaries! Thank you for the support!)