Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Vicarious Trip to the Desert

This is the first year in forever that we haven't made at least one trip down to the Southwest. I've headed down there with babies in my arms and during most if not all of my pregnancies... Even when I was having so much trouble with my knee, we went and skipped the hiking part. This year the decision was taken out of our hands, something I'm more than a little bit bitter about.

The desert scares me a bit, even when we're travelling in an air conditioned car, with water and cell phones along well traveled roads. Sometimes it scares me a lot. And sometimes you roll up the tent and find out that you've been sleeping on top of scorpions.  

Burro Bill and Me: A Memoir of Our Unusual Death Valley Love Story is the memoir of Edna Calkins Price. In 1931, she met and married her husband, Bill. Shortly after that, they decided to leave civilization behind and head for Death Valley. Over the next decade, they rid themselves of most of their gear. At one point, the only two things she owned that were hers and hers alone were a pair of pink panties and her toothbrush. Then the panties wore out and she sewed new ones out of an old cement bag. I'm picturing fabric like I used for my ironing board cover. They trade their Ford for a string of burros and without a plan for the future, they make their way throughout the Southwest, prospecting and exploring and setting up a trading post at the entrance of the newly founded national monument to earn enough to keep themselves going for the next few years. The book is filled with details of their day to day life.

I wouldn't want to actually live through Edna's experiences, but I loved reading about them. We've spent enough time in the area that I had a good feel for where they were, although I can't decide whether or not the cave filled with skeletons they found might be the Apache Death Cave...

Disclosure -- the publisher provided me with an ARC.

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