Posts Tagged ‘Desert’
It is raining cats and dogs today. Winters of Northern California typically bring cold rain and dark cloud covered skies. Good for water table but not good for the soul. My thoughts turn to Anza-Borrego desert state park, the largest of California’s state parks and a perfect escape from rain drenched winters. A couple of winters ago, we camped at the Bow Willow campgrounds. We are intermediate campers – we can do without the comfort of hot showers for a day or two but do need a chemical toilet. Bow Will was perfect – clear skies, not too cold, no bugs, hiking trails nearby.
I still remember that for dinner we had Trader Joe’s Lentil Rice Biryani heated on our camp stoves. Last night we had Chicken Biryani Dum Pukht style and while my Biryani is infinitely better on a culinary scale, there is something special about campside food. Is it the appetite built up from all day hiking, the fresh air enhancing the aroma of food, the effort of getting dinner ready in an unfamiliar setting, or sitting down for dinner without the TV?
What a beautiful, serene, solitary desert this one is. It is also the driest, hottest and largest national park. People have indeed died here although not in recent years.
My first trip to Death Valley was on a Thanksgiving weekend. We had started from Bay Area a little after ten. Nearly 12 hours later, we drove into Stovepipe Wells Village. They had given our room away. We had called at least twice that evening to let them know we would be arriving late!
This is something fascinating about California – it is littered with ghost towns, small towns that sprang up and disappeared during the glorious days of its mining era – between 1850s to early 1900s. Miners came from all parts of the world in search of the gold in the hills of California.
Last autumn, when we decided to go on a long road trip, from Bay Area to Las Vegas, it only seemed appropriate to visit Calico ghost town, which was on our way.
We had started early from Bay Area and had arrived at Calico ghost town about 4. Even here, 150 miles away from Zabriskie Point of Amargosa Range in Death Valley, the mountains retain some of the unusual colors of gold and amber. It had appeared more amber in the light of the setting sun.
Leh is the capital of Ladakh, a high desert region in Kashmir Himalayas. Eight months in a year this region is covered deep in snow. During the summer months, it is a popular destination for Israeli kids who come here for cheap drugs after their customary stint with the army. So, what was I doing there? I am a Bengali and come holidays, we pack our bags and go somewhere, be it low-budget trip to tea-estates of Darjeeling or far away places like Leh.
I was in Leh with my husband (he is a Bengali in spirit). We flew in from Delhi and that wasn’t a smart move, human bodies aren’t designed for a zero to 17000 ft transition in 2 hours. More of this particular misadventure at some other time. But let me tell you about the nuns and the Spanish.
What was so special about this room? Firstly, it was at 11000 feet, with a picturesque view of Himalayan range. Secondly, the room was a lavatory with a porcelain toilet, in a part of the world where porcelain toilets are rare.
Two of us had arrived at Lamayuru, site of an eleventh century Buddhist monastry in Ladakh. We had been hitchhiking with truckers, or busing, along the Leh-Kargil highway, making our way from one village to next. I remember it was mid morning when we arrived and it was blindingly bright. The last forty minutes of the truck ride had been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time – narrow winding road, high mountain on one side and deep cliff on other.