Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Desert sojourn, day 20

Sunrise along Foothill Road, Panorama Heights, Joshua Tree, Cal.

More clouds this morning, another dramatic sunrise. In the southwest I could see some precipitation falling out of clouds as near as 15 miles away, but I don't know if anything reached the ground. The page for Joshua Tree says the humidity is an usually high 41%, so there may we be some showers somewhere.

Less than an hour after I came back from my walk, I was sitting at the kitchen table next to an open door when I heard a sharp whack sound and felt a vibration. It felt as if something had struck the roof of the house. For a second I thought the house might have been hit by a stray bullet -- no one is supposed to shoot their guns within half a mile of any dwellings, but you never know out here. I crouched down in the doorway, trying to see if anyone were assaulting the house, or anything else such as one of the bullet-riddled abandoned cars nearby, but I didn't see or hear anything. Eventually I went back to work.

One of the standard questions I've been asking people I meet here is, Of anyone you happen to pass on the road or in town, how many people do you think are packing? I wanted to see if that question would evoke a response like, "Are you kidding? Everybody!" But no one answered that way. They all thought about it for a while and then made a guess. Of course that is a different question from whether people have guns at home; I presume a lot of people do. The first day I was here I heard a story about a Wonder Valley resident who shot a feral dog which had killed one of his goats and had come back for the other.

Now it is true that things are more wild-west in Wonder Valley (see map), which is a good 15 or 20 miles east of here. But I wouldn't put it past some of the social misfits in the neighborhood -- and there are old junky places in my neighborhood along with the nice houses, places with junk cars and trailers and piles of junk and a broken, improvised fence and a general air of Crazy Desert Crank Addict And/Or Survivalist Nutbag. When they built their place twenty or thirty years ago, this was little more civilized than Wonder Valley is now. So yeah, people have guns.

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