On the last night of our roadtrip we camped at Lava Beds National Monument.  The sunrise over the desert was lovely and Scott and I went for a walk (he did a little photog-ing) and I decided to do an informal survey of the plant life.  Juniper, pine, two kinds of sage, paintbrush, misteltoe...I haven't identified all of them, but I'm fascinated at the diversity casually found in just one little area. The desert is magical.

where wednesday [caboose]


In early 2003 I was an intern in the education office at Joshua Tree National Park.  I was able to choose between either really nice barrack/dorm housing with the park fire crew, or a caboose. Easy choice! An awesome older couple built their dream house just outside the park entrance near the education office, and on the property they had a refurbished caboose (great for the grandkids!) they rented to me.  


my caboose, the owners' amazing house, and my oldsmobile ♥

I can't find any pics of the interior...but I'll describe it to you. When you walked in the front door (closest to house), there was a bunk bed on the right and a single bed on the left. There was a little table and a nice place to sit, a tv (I got DVD's of The Sopranos at Blockbuster), a space heater, a tiny closet, and a little hot plate.

I was in Joshua Tree February to May, and the caboose wasn't insulated, so at night it was COLD.  Scott came to visit (he was living in Santa Barbara) and we rigged up a blanket curtain to hold the heat in the sleeping area. By the end of April during the day it would be HOT (still cold at night). What do you expect from a big metal box? I could climb into either side of the cupola (the 'second floor') and sit and read and watch the desert for coyotes and tortoises...


In the back of the caboose was a full fridge and a shower stall.  I washed my dishes in the shower!  There was a door at each end so I could open them up and get a little desert breeze moving through.

I would wake up to the sounds of mourning doves and the sight of clear colorful sunrise skies. I would crunch down the driveway to walk up to the office, pausing to let big gopher snakes cross the path. I loved my time in Joshua Tree and I think about it all the time...not only because of the landscape and the cool job I had, but because I lived in an amazing little home. It was so cozy and perfect for me...I loved my little caboose! Thanks for letting me share my memories!

Where Wednesday is    a series       about     places that are  important to us, be they   work  spaces,    outdoor      spaces,    sleeping spaces,  places we   visit,  places we    live,  places   we   drink    coffee, etc. etc.

[do you want to talk  about a  place or space that's important  to you? let me know and I'll  set you  up with a Wednesday!]

desert roll


The subject of the [terrible] photo above is the newest menu found at our local sushi spot...the one 2 blocks up, 4 blocks over. See that roll...the Desert Roll? Yeah, we named that.  That's OUR roll.  We went up there dinner one night and were the only ones eating.  The waitress and sushi chef brought us 2 pieces of their experimental roll and asked us to help brainstorm names for it.  And we did...and they liked it! It was tasty's a baked roll with crab, salmon, and a delicious creamy sauce.  Yum.

Lo and behold a few weeks later...there's a new roll on the menu. There's no footnote at the bottom with our names or anything...but we have the satisfaction of knowing we are creative sushi naming geniuses.

where wednesday [corinne]

Where Wednesdays are  a regular feature where I and a series of guest bloggers talk  about  places that are  important to us, be they work spaces, outdoor  spaces,  sleeping spaces,  places we visit, places we live, places we  drink  coffee, etc. etc.

[do you want to talk about a place or space that's important  to you? let me know and I'll set you up with a Wednesday!]

[This week's Where Wednesday is from Corinne, my mama...I'm happy to have grown up exploring the desert with her.  This is more or less her first blog post, so please give her a warm welcome ♥ Enjoy!]

Where Wednesday.  Desert.  No thought required.  It’s long been a healing place.  A place where I am my most true self; let the layers peel away.  It’s also the place I have the most fun.  It’s the first place I want to go when school lets out in June.  It’s the place I go when I meditate and it’s the imagery I see during a shavasana.

Where this Wednesday?  All American Man?  Chaco Canyon?  Capitol Reef?  Bryce Canyon?  Moab?  The Wave?  Yes, The Wave. This magical place is in the Coyote Buttes area of the Paria Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness on the Utah/Arizona border. 

Scott has already written beautifully about this spot where I was lucky to spend a day with him and Sara.  Walk-in permits are issued by lottery…just ten per day.  We won three permits ON MY BIRTHDAY!  Oops, we were a party of four.  Freddie, being Freddie, gave us the thumbs up to go ahead. 

The trailless hike means looking for landmarks to find our way. The Wave is hidden and remote and feels like an adventure.  A bare rock entrance takes us to another planet; with sandstone walls, swirling striations of yellow, orange, pink and white.  It’s like no other place.  Even here, there is life in small pools.  Just look. 


[sara here...this is an upside down tadpole shrimp my mom and i found in a desert pool...bizarre! tadpole shrimp are little crustaceans with prehistoric origins...they often live in temporary pools, and even after the pool dries up, their eggs can survive up 25 years and will hatch when conditions are right again]

I’m not sure why I feel such a strong affinity for desert environments. After all, I spent my early years in Canada.  Maybe it’s because life there is fragile, yet strong enough to survive.  Life is a gift in the desert.  Sharing time in the desert with Freddie, Sara and Scott is the best gift I’ve ever received.  (I love you guys.)


"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself."

Edward Abbey

(Desert Solitaire)

where wednesday [scott mansfield]

[The first 'Where Wednesday' post comes from an husband, the incomparable Scott Mansfield.  I've been to his place and it's pretty great. ♥sara]

I am honored to be the first ‘Where Wednesday’ guest blogger on Sagebrush Coast, a project that has been in the creative vault for quite some time.  It looks amazing, don’t you think!  This recurring Wednesday post is interesting because everyone has personal spaces they hold dear.  Following the suggestions given on her opening post, “work spaces, outdoor spaces, sleeping spaces, places we visit, places we live, places we drink coffee, etc” I’m going to talk about a place that fits all these for me.

Deep in the heart of the Colorado Plateau lies a crimson valley stripped with ancient geologic striations that ribbon across it in banded hues of red and blonde, marking the ancient epochs with geologic tidal bands.  It is in this hidden place I find myself one crisp early morning in Spring.  There are no trails here, no man markings, no signs only rock and wind, scattered hearty flora and animals adapted to the seemingly inhospitable environment.  I come as an observer, a recorder.  On this morning the slightest breath of wind dances about, lost in empty tranquility.  I feel the same.  With a compass in one hand and my tripod in the other I continue my walk South over broken Navajo Sandstone, toward a distant point on the horizon.  The East is awash with indigo  light.  The air is still again and a morning thrush sings its awakening call to all those who will listen.  Animals here hunt in the cool of night, but my quarry exists in the light; it is composition, trees and rock that I’m after.  I am a landscape artist, and this is my place.  It gets lighter in the East and my brain starts focusing on the play of shadow and low angled light.  There is no past or future while I’m here.  Timeless interaction is what I’m seeking.  To show the motif that exists between the nature before me and myself.  The weight of the tripod in my hand is comforting, an old trusted amigo, unflinching in its desire to accompany me anywhere.  The camera strapped to my back is loaded with rolls of film, and my eye searches on.  This is why I am alive, to feel nature flow through me.  Peaceful, content, happy I continue on as the light in the East grows.