Lessons from the Mojave Desert

Being that I am on a road trip with the opportunities to visit interesting places, we will dive into some lessons based on experiences I had visiting the Mojave Desert and camping out along the Great Southern Overland Stage Route. I had last visited this area when I was in my early teens and felt pulled to be in the midst of nature, away from people, and it was just as I remembered.

Lesson 1 – Little-known treasures – considering its proximity to San Diego, and the beauty of the park, it is surprising only four vehicles drove through this corridor in the whole night of being there. The lesson is, sometimes you will find treasures others have not discovered yet, even in places where it would be easy to assume everything interesting is commonly known and crowded.

Lesson 2 – Scare crow – There was a border patrol station, with a patrol car running with headlights on, but nobody was present. From a distance, it looked like a live inspection, but it became evident only after stopping in front of the vehicle, that there was nobody there. The lesson is, not every apparently onerous or scary thing on the journey of life will turn out to be as expected. So it makes no sense to be unduly paralyzed by every possible obstacle, but be reasonably prepared generally and handle one obstacle at a time as they present themselves.

Lesson 3 – Truckers being resourceful – Even though the desert route was put in place primarily for access to the vast desert for camping and viewing nature purposes, a couple of the vehicles coming through were 18 wheeler trucks. So the truckers are being resourceful in using the road going through this park, to deliver products, where this extremely underutilized road is a more efficient way to get from some point A to some point B.

Lesson 4 – Moon setting – After setting up camp for the night, the moon was so bright that it was getting in the way of viewing the many stars visible in the sky. After a few hours, the moon set into the horizon, and the stars were more clearly visible. I did not have a clear memory of ever finding the moon to be too bright for anything I cared about, or that it would set. The lesson was that in the absence of the hustle and bustle of city life, something seemingly as insignificant as moonlight could take on bigger than life significance, and the setting of the moon can make a big difference in experiencing the vastness of the galaxy.

Lesson 5 – Patience and wind turbines – on the drive towards the campsite, it seemed like there was an endless number of wind turbines with red flashing lights on them. I started to wonder if the camping environment I had remembered no longer exists, fearing that all the wonder I had remembered were gone, contaminated flashing red lights. Instead of letting that thought hang around, I just continued to drive ahead. Eventually, I came to an emptiness of desert untouched by humans except for the road going through it. Having the patience and faith to persevere despite discouragement can lead to the goal.

Lesson 6 – Fuel Prices – I saw fuel prices were 20-25% higher once we were far along the path versus closer to civilization. I had refueled earlier and experienced a sense of relief for having refueled earlier. Being proactive can save money, because if we wait until the last minute, like in the case of the fuel, we may have to pay a premium. Also, airline tickets which are notorious for becoming more expensive if we wait too long to book a flight.

Lesson 7 – Unexpected Opportunity at a Hot Spring – While driving along, I saw a hot springs town which I was not expecting. Stopping by and learning more about it gave me some useful information I can use in the future. The lesson is to be present for unexpected opportunities and act on them, versus being aloof and oblivious.

Lesson 8 – Airplane mode – Deciding to put the phone in airplane mode allowed me to fully present for the beauty without the constant distraction of emails, Facebook posts, and even being tempted to look at the news or other distracting stimulations provided by a modern smart phone. It also exposed its addicting nature, because stopping myself mid-motion as I started to reach for the phone felt a lot of like the pain of withdrawal symptoms. The lesson is to take frequent time off from being on the grid to the extent possible, so we can balance work duties with being present and enjoying the moment free of distraction from the connected world.

Lesson 9 – Winging it – I only had a vague sense of how to get to the camp site. I was armed only with a sense of certainty that I can find my way to, I found that I did successfully find it. But only after driving an extra 20 miles or so after missing an exit that only became evident as the correct exit only after the fact. A little bit of preparation could have saved some time; however, the adventure was very spontaneous, and I got away with zero preparation. The lesson is that as long as one is prepared to pay the price for not being prepared, just jumping into an adventure can be effective, and reveals the tendency to obsess and over-prepare may not be as efficient as it may seem.

Lesson 10 – Many kinds of beauty – In driving into the desert at night, and staying overnight and well into the morning until it got too hot, I saw many different beautiful sights. The lesson is that sometimes we obsess over one particular variety of beauty or any other desired thing, and miss the opportunity for others. Setting a general intention for the desired outcome and then being present to what shows up, may reveal unexpected beauty or solutions to give us great delight.

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