From DAVE STAMEY…a friend from Nevada…singer, song writer, originally from Montana…this is what he shared in what he calls his “occasional newsletter..”

Hooray For The Desert

It’s daunting, all that emptiness.  To top a hill and find yourself suddenly faced with such distance, endless stretches of sage and sun and creosote and gray naked hills.  It’s intimidating.  Mysterious, ominous, foreboding, it stares you down, warns you away, seems to say,  Here, nothing is easy.  Here you will be tested.  The vastness itself has such an overwhelming presence it’s almost Biblical.  That’s why it has always attracted the shamans, the mystics, the seekers of visions.  Hang around any desert gas station long enough and sooner or later some grizzled, bearded, hollow-eyed prophet will roll up out of some dusty canyon in a 1962 VW microbus.  The side panels and doors of the microbus will be covered with hundreds of hand painted Bible verses.  He’ll buy three dollars worth of gas, and where he gets even that much money is anybody’s guess, but you don’t want to catch his eye, because you know if you do he will rise up righteous on you and rain down fire and brimstone with an intensity that mirrors the desert itself.

Extremes.  Always.

Everywhere else the wind just blows.  Here it howls and shrieks and screams.  It has menace.  I once spent a sleepless night in a Mojave motel room while the wind battered and rattled at the doors and windows until I was convinced that the glass panes would shatter and skewer me to the bed.  In the morning a semi truck and trailer lay blown onto its side on the dusty shoulder of Highway 14.

One cool fall morning in a dry wash near Monument Valley, Melissa and I watched as a small herd of goats topped the hill and headed toward us, herded by three small dogs of indeterminate breeding.  I kept waiting for somebody to come trailing along behind them, but no one ever did; just the dogs.  You could see every rib.  They kept glancing our way, as if afraid we might try to interfere somehow.  They pushed the goats across the wash and up the other side, and then were gone.  On another afternoon I stood with a friend at Dead Horse Point near Moab, Utah, looking southward beyond the looping silver of the Colorado River far below us, where my friend pointed out where you could see a slice of Arizona, there, just to the right; and to the left a piece of Colorado; and if you squinted real hard, that farthest hairline of horizon was most likely in the state of New Mexico.

These things are wonderful, and to me much more rewarding than Disneyland, or the Winchester Mystery House.

Hooray for the oases, the watering holes and stopping places.  I don’t mean Vegas or Reno, with the asphalt sprawl and their video billboards—give me the uniquely American cracked stucco tackiness of filling stations surrounded by salvage yards, and in the middle of them a restaurant serving Greek cuisine and hot dogs.  There is nothing like being in Mesquite, Nevada, and watching as the sunset casts a warm red alpenglow on all the fast food signs.

Hooray for the people who come here.  Who stay.  They all wind up becoming characters.  For years the sole resident of Ballarat, California was Seldom Seen Slim, a toothy scarecrow of a hermit referred to by those who knew him as “Seldom Clean Slim.”  Here’s to the store clerk I met in Needles, swatting flies that buzzed through the holes in the screen door, and like some character out of Monte Walsh, keeping tally of his kills on a pad of paper on the counter next to him.  “Forty-two so far this morning!”  Here’s to the hardy citizens of Trona, who cover their front yards with concrete and then paint them a defiant green.  And to the RVers who descend on Quartzite, Arizona every winter, thousands and thousands of motor homes and travel trailers with the indoor-outdoor carpeting and the lawn chairs out front under the awnings, an encampment so vast and glittering I am convinced they could be seen from the space shuttle.  Here’s to the well dressed tourist I met on a trail outside Sedona, a middle aged man with wavy gray hair and expensive sunglasses, who asked me if I could direct him to the vortex, and who then went on to explain in great detail how he had visited a different vortex the day before, and was still feeling fairly amplified

Here’s to the hardy immigrants from India and Pakistan who seem to be running all the motels these days.  God bless them, they are here looking for the dream, working their butts off for it.  To be in Elko and welcomed to the heart of the American West by a lady in a sarong is a bit disconcerting, and also somehow joyful.

God, I love this country