- Author: Kathy DeRouen
BY KATHY DEROUEN -
Not so long ago, my husband and I - discovered - the forty acres of Mojave Desert that was to become our - Desert Disneyland - and home.
1978 was an El Nino year, and Dry Morongo Creek flowed bank to bank past the highway connecting San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Perry and I set off to explore the canyon formed by the creek and the effects of the flood.
Perry was born and raised in the Coachella Valley and lived most of his life on farms and ranches. He grew up exploring the Ancient Salton Sea, earthquake and flood created canyons, and surrounding environments on his horse Bucky. I grew up in Phoenix, unaware of an environment beyond my home, school, shopping center within walking distance, high school and college campuses. Two less likely life partners and soul mates could not have been imagined. But, life has a way of happening while we’re making other plans, and we found each other.
As we explored Dry Morongo Creek, we marveled at the power of the flood, the beauty of the canyon, sudden springs and riparian zones, and the signs of wildlife Perry pointed out to me: deer tracks, wildlife spoor, and the hummingbirds that had enchanted me since I moved to the desert after college.
We came upon a labyrinth of unpaved roads. “Someone owns this land; let’s buy it,” Perry declared. I couldn’t imagine how he knew the land was privately owned; I had seen no “For Sale” signs. “Because someone cut these roads with their tractor….” Sure enough, a visit to the 29Palms County Assessor’s office verified private ownership of a previously homesteaded 160-acre parcel; it was now divided into 40-acre parcels. We tracked down the owner, made a down payment and began dreaming of our own Little House in the Desert. “But how can we live without electricity?” “No problem, we’ll have a solar home, and you won’t know the difference,” Perry assured me.
And so we began dreaming of our own nature preserve in the Mojave Desert wilderness. Thirty-five years later, through winds, weather, fire and other man- and nature-made events, we still marvel at the beauty of our surroundings. Hummingbirds, rabbits, bobcats, coyotes, resident and migrant birds, and occasional deer, bear, and mountain lion have never ceased to captivate and thrill us. And, almost always, the lights have shone brightly.
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