Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Jim Reeves old song, "Shifting, Whispering Sands" tells the story of discovering a desert valley where people have mysteriously vanished, leaving their possessions more or less intact: "How the cattle roamed the valley; happy people worked the land--and now everything is covered by the shifting whispering sand......"If you want to learn their secret, wander through this quiet land and I'm sure you'll hear the story of the shifting, whispering sands. WELL! I heard a story of just such a place--an old depression era homestead destroyed by shifting sand. A homestead far out in the desert, across a dry lake bed. When settled, this homestead was 45 miles from a grocery store. Across that dry lake bed to that tiny patch of trees, legally inaccessible by vehicle. One must trudge 3 miles to reach it--a dangerous solo trip, so I recruited 4 adventurous friends and one very happy dog to accompany me
Once in the lake bed you see that it really is barren and estimated distances seem to double. Also we walked into a strong, cold wind.
We are nearing the rumored scene of dramatic demise.
Not here! This seemed to be a first crude beginning shelter while drilling a well. (on right)
Hardly any drama here---Interesting with a touch of artistic whimsey in the indian cutout.
Surely this is not the fabled shifting sands homestead.
long abandoned---I've seen lots of similar scenes---not the shifting sands drama we are looking for.
Here's a small mystery we encountered in some bushes. Stolen vehicle, stripped of its goodies?
Another surprise...a slow, clumbsy, vulnerable tarantula. People in the West rarely harm them---regard them with affection and leave them alone---as we do.
AH HA! Here's a clue to our quest, written on the back porch of the house. It says: "My grampa homesteded here & built this house!! Had to....SAND DUNE COVERED HIS 1ST HOUSE, WHERE THE FIREPLACE IS AT. He was Gilbert R Rock!"
Now we know where to look and what to look for---in the dunes--for a fireplace. So this house was the replacement for the shifting sand house.
Taking a break in the dunes--which have now been invaded---and incidentally stabilized by tamerisk trees--an invasive--non fruit bearing---big time water using species almost impossible to eradicate. Somewhere near here is the scene of the drama. From left to right, my companions are Cody the little dog, Darlene, Taz, Claire and Dodie---each absorbed with their cameras--ready to record the scene of the drama.
BINGO!!! The scene of the drama so long ago: Shifting sand slowly crept against his wall like a heavy snowfall that would not melt. Then higher and higher till the front door would not open. Shoveling it away proved futile as the prevailing southwest breeze pushed it ever back and higher---then into his front room---higher--into the windows. He no doubt retreated to the kitchen to live--but it followed---then onto the roof till one day it collapsed, forcing him to build another house. Will global warming creep up on us like this---or overpopulation?


Rojo said...

Excellent Randy.

Serolynne said...

Greetings fellow nomadic adventurer! I was directed to your blog by a fellow reader of ours who profiled both of us today on myshrinkinglife.com.

Chris and I have been on the road for going on 3 years now - traveling around in a trailer of similar size to yours. Not as stealthy, but designed with boondocking in mind - solar panels, etc. And lots of geekery - as we do a bit of technical consulting as we roam. We love the adventure of it all, and meeting and encountering awesome people via nomadic serendipity.

At any rate, I've just spent the last hour or so going through a few months of your writing - and I think it's safe to say - I look forward to our path crossing in person at some point. It's such an incredible part of the journey to rendezvous with others following their roaming paths.

And.. you need to come to Burning Man! Consider yourself invited to join our theme camp - Camp Nomadia. We had a group of 70 nomadic souls camped with us last year.

All my best -
- Cherie / www.technomadia.com

Randy said...

NOMADIC SERENDIPITY---NOMADIA--TECHNONOMADIA---Great words all--as is the whole of your blog. I've just spent a happy hour reading it.
Amd what an incredible coincidence--I just left the domicile of "Container Charley" here at the Slabs which you have pictured on your blog. He's a super nice, clever guy who'se fixing my Sirius Radio as I write.
I'm urging my readers to have a look at your well written, life affirming adventures. www.technomadia.com

Anonymous said...

Looks a bit lonely; the place almost makes me ache.
One can see the same thing in small industrial towns that have gone bankrupt.
Braddock, PA, for instance.

Serolynne said...

Oh my gosh.. that is nomadic serendipity, indeed! We just met Charlie when we were there a few weeks ago! A fellow like minded spirit, indeed. We ended up hanging out with him a couple nights. We can't wait to return to East Jesus for a prolonged stay in the future.

It now doesn't surprise me at all that we have such an awesome common connection! Charlie seems to be a nexus of truly awesome amazing people (including himself).

bobn181 said...

Just found you recently -- great stuff, man of many talents.

I'm trying to read all your posts, for ideas and inspiration. On your June 9th post you mentioned that back in the day, MIT students designed a "hobo pushcart" with all the amenities for a good life on the trail. I've spent half a day trying to find something about it on the Interwebs. with no luck at all.

I've run out of things to try. I've found plans for the "Africart", which is helpful for building a shell. But no MIT cart. Can you give me a hint???

Many thanks!

Randy said...

Sorry Bobn181, I tried and failed also to get more info on that cart for the article. I'm afraid my info was second hand and just may not be true. In any event it is something that needs to be done and would be fairly easy to do. I've met two hobos who had compacted a full set of comforts: one, on a bicycle without pedals which he pushed; the other used a three wheeled baby carrier that was very easy to push. And I've engaged motorcyclist with a positively cushy lifestyle. Perhaps the world of the mobile unaffluent is waiting on you--or me!

Anonymous said...

Hi Randy. Enjoying your posts. Just wanted to say that might have been an ancestor of mine... this Gilbert Rock. My maiden name is Rock, but my parents hailed from Illinois. Linda

Erik Smith said...

I've been there as a kid about 35 years ago. The house buried in sand dunes.

Erik Smith said...
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