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A remote area of the Mojave Desert, USA (2015)

I like old-timers. They know things. One day I found myself soaking in a natural hot spring with a couple of them who clearly had great knowledge of the Mojave Desert. They were regaling me with stories of their explorations, going back all the way back to the 1960’s. When I explained to them that I was in search of a certain naturally occurring phenomenon, they listed off about five places where I could find it. They were right, too. I later ventured out to one of their most highly recommended spots, a wilderness area in the middle of nowhere. It was sixty miles from the nearest town, accessed by hours of dirt road, but I found exactly what I wanted there. I also found a great surprise upon arrival: another person camped in the area.

The odds of finding another person camping at that spot are fairly small, as this place is quite remote and nowhere near any established campgrounds. And not only was this other person’s camp set up, there was a tripod sitting outside too…another photographer! Well, I had not come there to socialize, so I set up my camp where I could have some privacy and could focus on what I had come there to do. I hiked for hours scouting the area, finding much of interest and excited to get to bed early so that I could shoot sunrise.

And then the music started. Over a PA system, it seemed. Really, really loud music. And people laughing just as loudly. Even my earplugs could not muffle the sound that seemed to vibrate the walls of my tent. I realized that this guy surely had no idea that any other living soul was camped anywhere nearby, but I was still not amused. Dragging myself out the next morning deprived of sleep was especially rough, but the sunrise brought a red sky and was quite memorable—memorable enough that I recognized it easily when a picture of it popped up on Facebook a few days later. Then I knew who my neighbor had been: he was someone I’d actually met before, and that was his birthday party.

So after some humorous chatting about it all, the two of us decided to make a trip back out to the area together. We both felt that we had a lot more to do there and that it would be fun to hang out and explore together. After scoring big during a few very photogenic outings, we decided to go exploring about five miles away from where we were camped. That was even more ‘nowhere’ than where we had been because the topo maps and satellite images gave us very little to work with. We ultimately decided just to hike around and see if we could find anything interesting. Well, we sure did. Here is one shot from that area…even more nowhere than nowhere.

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