Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Jim Reeves old song, "Shifting, Whispering Sands" tells the story of discovering a desert valley where people have mysteriously vanished, leaving their possessions more or less intact: "How the cattle roamed the valley; happy people worked the land--and now everything is covered by the shifting whispering sand......"If you want to learn their secret, wander through this quiet land and I'm sure you'll hear the story of the shifting, whispering sands. WELL! I heard a story of just such a place--an old depression era homestead destroyed by shifting sand. A homestead far out in the desert, across a dry lake bed. When settled, this homestead was 45 miles from a grocery store. Across that dry lake bed to that tiny patch of trees, legally inaccessible by vehicle. One must trudge 3 miles to reach it--a dangerous solo trip, so I recruited 4 adventurous friends and one very happy dog to accompany me
Once in the lake bed you see that it really is barren and estimated distances seem to double. Also we walked into a strong, cold wind.
We are nearing the rumored scene of dramatic demise.
Not here! This seemed to be a first crude beginning shelter while drilling a well. (on right)
Hardly any drama here---Interesting with a touch of artistic whimsey in the indian cutout.
Surely this is not the fabled shifting sands homestead.
long abandoned---I've seen lots of similar scenes---not the shifting sands drama we are looking for.
Here's a small mystery we encountered in some bushes. Stolen vehicle, stripped of its goodies?
Another surprise...a slow, clumbsy, vulnerable tarantula. People in the West rarely harm them---regard them with affection and leave them alone---as we do.
AH HA! Here's a clue to our quest, written on the back porch of the house. It says: "My grampa homesteded here & built this house!! Had to....SAND DUNE COVERED HIS 1ST HOUSE, WHERE THE FIREPLACE IS AT. He was Gilbert R Rock!"
Now we know where to look and what to look for---in the dunes--for a fireplace. So this house was the replacement for the shifting sand house.
Taking a break in the dunes--which have now been invaded---and incidentally stabilized by tamerisk trees--an invasive--non fruit bearing---big time water using species almost impossible to eradicate. Somewhere near here is the scene of the drama. From left to right, my companions are Cody the little dog, Darlene, Taz, Claire and Dodie---each absorbed with their cameras--ready to record the scene of the drama.
BINGO!!! The scene of the drama so long ago: Shifting sand slowly crept against his wall like a heavy snowfall that would not melt. Then higher and higher till the front door would not open. Shoveling it away proved futile as the prevailing southwest breeze pushed it ever back and higher---then into his front room---higher--into the windows. He no doubt retreated to the kitchen to live--but it followed---then onto the roof till one day it collapsed, forcing him to build another house. Will global warming creep up on us like this---or overpopulation?

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