Desert winds beat sand against any exposed skin, into the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. By the end of the day, red beards have become brown, pale skin looks tanned, and tan skin appears chalky and pale. Meals eaten outdoors are inevitably seasoned with sand and grit. Days go by, and you forget what still air is like. We climbed up and down hills, then back up and back down. We moved earth and rock. The wind picked up speed. It slowed down. It rushed back up and whirled around. The winds are unconcerned with and undeterred by the shouts, insults, and wishes of people.
When the winds ﬁnally came to a rest, there was another battle to be fought. If you’re unprepared for this one, you’ll endure a new misery – being soaked to the bone. I’m not talking about rain, although we’ve battled that as well. What I’m describing is WATER GUN WAR! We gave ourselves new names, more intimidating than our birth names, and better suited to threaten our opponents. During the very brief periods where sun and still air collided, and we were weren’t scooping dirt, the crew heckled each other with ridiculous, cheesy insults, and chased each other around with 97 cent squirt guns. The fun ended as quickly as it began, however. Once the winds came back, no one wished to soak another for fear of retribution
When the wind wasn’t howling, creosote campﬁres were like desert incense, burning in the evenings and in the mornings to warm us. We escaped to Red Rock Canyon State Park where everything was beautiful, and the wind gave us a break. We had an afternoon full of lizard sightings, blooming ﬂowers, and to be dwarfed by cliffs, buttes, and other massive geologic formations.