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Arches National Park, Utah

Deserts were probably Ford’s least favorite environment to travel through.

They were unbearably hot in the daylight and numbingly cold in the nighttime. They tested the limits of his physical endurance with rapid temperature changes, parching lack of humidity, shifting or uneven ground, and lack of cover from the elements. There was nowhere to escape the biting winds or baking sunlight except inside layers of protective clothing and headgear – a pair of UV resistant goggles was one of the best things Ford had ever stolen acquired. Not only did they offer protection from the harsh glare of the sun (or suns, as was often the case), after a few choice modifications they allowed him adequate night vision as well. Travel during the colder periods of the day was much less strenuous than travel in the heat of it, and it was handy to be able to see the nocturnal predators that so often frequented the desert.

On the other hand, though, deserts were also where Ford learned to survive. It was desert folk that taught him how to make the nutrient supplements he now subsisted off of. It was the necessary evil of survival that gave him the hardness of heart to do what it took to survive; and it was the stubborn refusal to become anything less than good that kept him from becoming a monster and giving in to the temptations of selfishness. He had seen firsthand that survival was not synonymous with selfishness, and that though an extended hand may be oft burned one never extended receives no help in return.

And deserts also held beauty, in their own harsh manner. Wildflowers would blanket the earth to the horizon, blooming bright and vibrant against the clean white or dull grey or bright yellow or dust red. The singing of coyotes and dune-beasts to the stars at night held a haunting beauty that sent shivers through his very core. Dawn breaking across a sky so vast it made one feel as fragile as dust; sunsets setting the whole heavens ablaze with color; the thread of galaxies across the sky so filled with colors and stars that one seemed to be walking among them; these were the things that the desert held and shared only with those brave enough to walk it.

Ford felt rather privileged to be one of them.

Why is the Mojave important?

I figured I’d go in a little different direction here on this and talk about why the Mojave and deserts in general are important. If you follow me you know I talk at length about the Mojave. It’s one of my great passions in life and I love every sun scorched and irradiated section of it. The reality of it far exceeds anything found in Fallout or other Post Apocalyptic stories and the Mojave is a very important desert. 

I live at the extreme north east section of it. The very furthest north east border of the Mojave ends where Zion canyon ends. Beyond Zion and even in truth part of Zion extends up beyond the Mojave range but south west of me is the entire rest of the desert. However this entire region is desert and while the border is clearly defined here on the map in reality there are places that are still considered the Mojave like Kanab Utah, Freedonia Arizona, Pipe Springs Arizona, Colorado City Arizona and Hilldale Utah that are well beyond the borders. 

The Mojave itself only occupies less than 50,000 sq mi making it the smallest of the North American deserts but roughly the size of Greece in terms of square miles. There is very little water here in comparison to other environments but the Mojave and other deserts  are a major sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, so as CO2 levels go up, they’ll increase their uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere. They’ll help take up some of that excess CO2 going into the atmosphere. They also serve as natural barriers that isolate geographic regions and prevent unwanted invasive species of plants and animals from spreading like wildfire to many areas. 

The Mojave is an oasis of plant and animal life highly adapted to the harsh conditions and many of them found no where else. It is also a place where minerals are abundant and there are many mines that have been made to extract everything from Iron and Silver to Uranium and Gold. It is the perfect place to test everything from new aircraft and vehicle designs to nuclear detonations. As well as the Mojave gets heavy winds from time to time and enjoys mostly sunny days through the year so it is a great place to create wind farms and solar farms to harvest energy from the environment. 

When most people think of deserts they think of a wasteland where there is nothing and that’s pretty far from the truth. While conditions out here are harsh and you have to be pretty crazy to live out here in the summer with no AC it is doable and all you have to do is spend some time with boots on the ground and looking around to see that the entire place moves with a purpose. 

Wet springs often bring beautiful flowers from a variety of plants that attract bees and other insects that pollinate them and in turn allow them to produce fruit that sustains a huge population of animals which in turn also sustain a population of predators and the cycle repeats. 

It’s a unique place that I love. The other deserts of North America are good but the Mojave has a special place in my heart. It’s important to the west, it’s important to the nation and deserts like this are important to the world. 

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Cheer Up Post #4759 - Cactus Flowers Edition

sneetchstar would like a post featuring cactus flowers. Here you go!

Nature/Animals Masterpost

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I never put on weight because I spend hours and hours
Just walking
I walk through valleys and meadows
Cities and towns
Alleys and streets
Where I will never be found
I walk for days under the sun
And drift through the desert.

I never stop walking.
But I never leave my room.

—  c.d. - The Furrowed Fields Of My Mind