At first, we were going to go drive by this one house in Twenty Nine Palms because it looked sort of fancy and avant-garde in the real estate magazine, and we were pretending that we might buy a house here.
"I think maybe it's just the light that makes the roof looks all those colors," the historian said.
"We could drive by and see," I replied helpfully. "Do you want to?"
"Naah," he said.
Then we thought about driving into the park for a little jaunt, taking whatsoever hike or nature walk struck our fancy. Then:
Me: Remember when we were driving back on 62 yesterday? did you see that sign for the Big Morongo Canyon?
So I Googled it, and that's where we went.
Like so many places--oases--in the desert, this particular place is made of the availability of water (underground lake, subterranean rivers) and vegetation (willows and cottonwoods), which attracts birds galore. There are alleged (I'm not arguing) mountain lions and bighorn sheep. Snakes, of course, and bugs. Anyway, we decided to go take a small hike or two.
It was mid afternoon, and the birds were in audible evidence, but not much in visual display. Here and there, you could hear the trickle and burble of water. A little frog aria.
We paused when a woman walking in front of us was, as I was, trying to catch the flight of insects in the light.
"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to rush you," I said.
This led to a conversation about a creature she spotted yesterday--she was so excited that it was hard to understand, exactly, what she was saying. It was a hummingbird--or a moth? a moth hummingbird? No, a striped hummingbird moth.
"It landed on my phone--it's pink, so it was attracted. I didn't have my camera--" she gestured toward her camera --"so I couldn't capture it. I'm just looking for it, I hope I get to see it again.
[NOTE: this is someone else's video, just so you can see what this strange creature
I caught one quick shot before it sped off. She showed me hers, zoomed in. A flash of pink on its wings.
There are, allegedly, all sorts of hummingbirds that frequent the Canyon. We didn't see any of them. We saw a fleeting glimpse of this hummingbird moth, a rather large flock of crows gliding over the sky as the sun set, a butterfly. The air was fresh. We climbed up to a ridge to see the willows and cottonwoods, their shapes and colors, and the mountains in the distance. Another place people have taken the trouble to preserve, with its hidden water, its discreet birds, its forking paths.