Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Font's Point

I'm adding something to my list of "100 Things To Do Before I Die." I want to visit Font's Point again.

Font's Point is a towering limestone outcrop overlooking miles of the most foreboding, tortured badlands in the Southwest. Just two hours from San Diego, it's center stage in the Anza-Borrego Desert, which itself is one of the last best places on earth. Also, one of its best kept secrets.

I discovered Font's Point twelve years ago on a whim, the way so many of the best things in life are found, led there by an innate adventurousness I inherited from my mom. I'd never seen a real desert before, but one day, finding myself on an extended leave from my job, set out in my Jeep to go four-wheeling in the desert. Never mind that I'd never been in the desert in my life, never mind that I was by myself, never mind that I'd never had my Jeep in four-wheel drive before. I was inexplicably drawn to the Anza-Borrego Desert, and it was love at first sight.

Font's Point isn't easy to find, I just happened on it by turning off the pavement and hotdogging out across the sand. After a few miles, I'd gone as far as I could drive, so braked and cut the engine, and started walking up a long, moderately steep incline. It was hot, but I had plenty of water.

As my eyes topped the rim, my breath caught. Laid out before me, below and as far as I could see, were the Borrego Badlands, miles of barren rock strata that had been down-dropped and eroded into fantastic rock forms a million years ago. Harsh looking, steeply-jagged peaks, and corrugated hills of dried mud thrust up from twisted sedimentary layers, fractured land faults, rich fossil beds, and sunken mesas in colors impossible to imitate by man.

It was a stark, arid terrain where nothing grew and no one lived, and it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I felt like I was standing on the edge of the earth.

Below, a road beckoned, isolated, remote, narrow and twisting, and begging for me to explore it. (I couldn't find the road on any of the desert maps, but happened upon it weeks later the same way I found Font's Point - by four-wheeling across the sand in its general direction. That was another memorable day.)

Standing at the top of Font's Point and looking far off in the distance to the east, the land drops suddenly to 235 feet below sea level to the weird and frightening Salton Sea. There, buzzards roost on leafless, lifeless trees. Strange, foul smelling sulfurous substances smoke and bubble up from the ground. Streams run an unnatural fuchsia red. The whole place looks like a scene after a nuclear blast. I don't like it there and stay away.

But Font's Point calls me still, and I hope to go back there.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Blame It On the Internet

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm impatient. I don't like waiting in long lines. I want my phone calls returned within thirty minutes, and I don't like waiting on hold playing Free Cell for more than five. Send a snail mail letter? Forget it! I'll post an email then check for a reply every half hour.

Some people who know me would say I've always been impatient. But I blame this expectation of instant gratification on the Internet.

When I sit at the computer with my fingers on the keyboard, I am mind-blowingly aware that I am connected to the entire planet. Imagine that! Anything I want to know, I can find out with a few click taps on the keys. And best of all, I can find it out right away!

I use the Internet a lot, and not just for research when I'm writing a book. I find occasions in my daily life to connect to the Internet. Here are some things I searched for recently:

Brian Eno - Known as the master of ambient music, I was looking for his CDs. I play ambient music when I write. Currently, Inner Dance by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson is in my CD player.

Knife sharpening - My kitchen knives need attention and I was looking for a place to take them.

Poor Clares - A cloistered order of nuns living in the middle of the desert. I'm quite taken with these powerful women and am thinking about using them in a book.

Lynx reintroduction - Wildlife managers in Colorado have recently reintroduced the lynx onto federal lands. This program will be a key element in an upcoming book.

GoDaddy - I reserved my domain names.

Wild Horse Herds - Wild horse herds in Colorado play a part in my just completed book, WITHOUT PERMISSION. Also, there are wild horse herds on some property I own in Southern Colorado. I'm interested in their history and their welfare. Did you know the government has pledged to care for them in perpetuity?

Cortez Journal - I keep up with news in the small town where I used to live through the newspaper's website. Recently newspaper photographer Sam Green took a photo of a wild stallion that had just been corralled by local ranchers. The stallion was fighting mad and thrashing out with razor sharp hooves at the wrangler. He'd been rounded up for relocation because he was a frequent visitor to the domestic mares on the nearby ranches. I ordered a copy of the photo and will frame it to hang in my office.

Brad Meltzer - I just finished reading his very suspenseful and exciting book, THE ZERO GAME. It was the first book I'd read by him, so out of curiosity took a look at his website.

Must go now. Have to check my email.