Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gone Walkabout

My completed map.
Each smiley face is a cache
that I found in the desert.
Yep, I'm crazy.
The Australians have a word for when someone goes off on their own in nature: walkabout.  "She's gone walkabout," they'll say.  I guess you could say I've been gone walkabout for a couple of days on the BLM land just outside of Roswell.  Unlike the Australians, I had good reasons for my walkabout.  I was not in search of answers to deep, dark questions.  Instead I was in search of Pecos diamonds and a few geocaches. 

Actually there were 42 geocaches that I wanted to find.  When I checked out the map of geocaches in the Roswell area I found that some local cacher with a great imagination, good understanding of  plotting waypoints, and way too much time on his hands had laid out a trail of 42 caches that when viewed on the map created the outline of an alien head.  Well, given that this is Roswell and how into the whole alien (as in little green men from Mars) thing the town is, I thought I would have to go looking for these caches.  Plus I was told that the BLM land has lots of Pecos diamonds just laying around for anyone to grab. 

So what's a Pecos diamond?  Well, sadly not a real diamond, not that I have ever had luck digging for those.  Darlene and I tried our luck at Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas one Thanksgiving but came up empty, and a few years later Brenda and I went back there with Gus to help dig.  Still nothing.
  But I'm proud to say that I did better this time.  Of course they aren't worth much, just pretty to look at.  They are actually quartz crystals formed inside gypsum.  But it's still a thrill to find them and I know my grandchildren will enjoy the box of rocks I just mailed them. 

There was also just the beauty of the desert.  Yes, beauty.  The cactus blooms I saw reminded me of the hot pink water lilies in the gardens of Asia. 


The intense yellow desert buttercups were nearly as bright as the sun.  And the little purple flowers I found but haven't yet learned a name for were in such contrast to the cactus and brittle sage bushes.  I saw several brightly colored lizards skittering across the ground but not one would hold still for a picture.  One day there was one lone pronghorn antelope that stood on a hill watching me.  Too far away for me to get a picture but I know he was making sure I didn't get near his territory. 

So for two mornings I drove out to the desert to walk about signing logs and taking pictures and bagging quartz.  Each time I got there just after sunrise when the temps were in the low 70s.  I parked my car on the road and walked into the desert about a mile and then circled back keeping the car in sight.  Yes, the land here is that flat (and it helps that I have that orange car that glows in the sunlight).  Each morning I spent about 3 hours searching and walking and drinking water.  I carried two 32oz water bottles that I had frozen the night before and which were thawed quickly in that heat.  Once the water was gone I got back to the car and left, so maybe I'm only a little crazy.  For those that are wondering, no, I didn't see any rattlesnakes even though they are out there.  I guess they had better sense than me and were somewhere shady instead of out on walkabout. 

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