It’s Hitch Nine, and it feels more like home in the ﬁeld than it does anywhere else out here.
We sleep and eat in Joshua Tree Land. We sometimes work in Joshua Land; sometimes work in Creosote Land. Then we come home again to Joshua Land where the Joshua Trees are starting to bloom in the nighttime, and we call it a workday. With all that getting around from one sort of land to another—from worksite to worksite to campsite—now we know the roads of this part of Jawbone like it’s our neighborhood. It’s normal life here, but with wilder encounters.
On the ﬁrst day, we saw a coyote walk right in front of us. Then across the road it went, and to the left it went. It stared at us for some ten seconds, and we shared a wild moment. We heard its relatives sing every night of hitch. “To the waxing moon,” they went. “Wild ones,” we thought.
We talked with a man driving around, looking for lost cattle.
The man asked, “Have you seen two cows?
“No, sorry,” we said.
…“That’s gotta be the ﬁrst time I’ve seen a push-broom out in the desert,” he said, a little bit later, out his truck’s driver window.
“Yeah, well it’s really dusty here,” Dan said. (Isn’t he funny? Isn’t that wild?)
Cattle out here? We wondered why. (Isn’t that wild?)
While the rancher looked for lost cows, we camped next to a big mud puddle, leftover from early March’s rain, and forgot about the rest of the world. We played with pigs while we played Pass the Pigs. We discovered a pet cemetery where Sparky and Lulu are buried, just up the hill from our campsite. We saw a snake one day. Another day we saw a sun spider. On the sixth day of hitch, blocks of the earth scraped against each other, and some of us felt the earth quake.
We restored 13 incursions, and a total of 2,587 square meters (A new record for us).
Work routines and life routines. Nothing around us out here but a truck and shelters of canvas, and the moon, and the coyotes, and four other people (ﬁve other people when Amelyne visits, and six when the rancher comes looking for his cattle), and this big wide space with miles and miles of undulating desert and faraway mountains.
It might be easy to take for granted where we are. (It’s just our normal lives here but with wilder encounters.) But here’s something important. While we wandered and while we drove, and while we looked out around us, we took the time to relearn an important lesson this hitch. We told ourselves to not let ourselves become desensitized by the beauty of this place. We consciously stopped as a group and thought about it. We looked out around us. We looked down and there were wildﬂowers growing. We looked up, and there were brilliant clouds, and butterﬂies, and sometimes there were bees. We looked out and around, and in every compass direction there was a far off, unobstructed-by-nothing-but-mountains incredible horizon. We kept falling in love with Jawbone again and again, and again and again because we live in a breathtaking place.
From here out, it’s only 40 more days in this desert. Hey: What’s up with that?