Sun Dog

On the morning of July 21, 2004, after three hot weeks of neither seeing nor seeking a soul in Sand Valley, I drove from Rancho Scorpion to charge the car battery and say ‘howdy’ a mile away.  Laura threw up a stern hand with fingernails dancing sunlight as I slammed the door and froze.  ‘Old [...]

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Bust Ass in Sand Valley

March cooks the desert and nights find me under the stars on a mattress five-feet above scorpions and snakes.  The heat stirs others tonight as a vehicle races the godforsaken track past my place.  Sudden headlights veer into the half-mile drive and close.  I shake off sleep and duck behind the trailer as a black [...]

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Sundown Table

Each sundown table setting at Rancho Scorpion follows a pattern. First, the black bugs march in from downwind, from as far away as 100 yards. Next always, in about ten minutes, follow the small field mice that nose the bugs off the tossed dollops. In ten minutes more, the kangaroo rats lope In, three times [...]

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Trader Rat IQ Test

I didn't know what species the trader rat in my Pendleton pocket was when it was young. In youth, the desert rodents including kangaroo rat, kangaroo mouse, field mouse, etc all look alike except for size, and if you don't know how old they are there's no ID. I wanted a trader rat all my [...]

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Back Tracking Immigration

My Digs is located forty miles from the Mexican border on a Honda 185XL dirt bide. It’s on a ‘wet’, or illegal, immigrant pipeline about half-way between the sieve border and busy I-10, that the Mexicans spring west to Las Angeles or east to Phoenix. My Digs is in the middle of Nowhere, Sonora in [...]

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Chopper, Tank, Howitzer & Honda

A chop-chopper flies over my desert trailer near the Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range and a mile away drops a camouflage tank. It returns in 30 minutes with a 20-meter howitzer slung to the belly and drops it gently next to the tank. I jump on a cherry red 1979 Honda 185XL to snoop. Thirty capable [...]

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Bo Greets Cannon

Out of the blue, as I plant cactus in my front yard, sounds a rumble and I gaze overhead at a 155-Howitzer. The 15-meter cannon is normally towed behind an Army truck, but now one dangles on a thin cable under the green belly of a whack-a-whack Sea Stallion helicopter. The chopper lumbers south above [...]

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Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range

The eastern flank of the Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range, largest in the world, lies one mile walk from my trailer doorstep. There, on a Sunday in 2005 with zooming jets and thousand-pound bombs lacing the airspace, and the mistletoe draped thick in ironwood trees to duck beneath Navy prop-plane security, I hiked thirty miles across [...]

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Going Under with bo

A buried culvert pipe is a good way to go, or a shipping container, Earthship, camper dropped into a 10' hole like mine, straw bale built into a berm, and so forth are really the proper ways to live in the desert. You gotta be underground like the other intelligent mammals to beat the heat. [...]

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I’m Beginning to Think Like Them

When I was a 28-year-old retired veterinarian, I spent the year sleeping in a coffin. It was simple, pine and lined with electric blankets against the icy Michigan winter nights. It was also the logical progression from an on-and-off career riding boxcars around America. Before that, I built a hermetic crate in a garage to [...]

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