From Badwater Basin... To Angel's Landing
The open road is my obsession. If too much time passes between outings, I need a fix. Perhaps a mere two-hour drive ascending along the magnificent Kolob Reservoir Road for an indescribable view and a breath of fresh air is all I need. But sometimes I just yearn to cleanse my mind and sweat it out along a desert highway. The enormous diversity of the Southwest landscape is my addiction.
I clearly recall the first time I crossed the desert alone. It was 1979, and I was 17-years-old. Behind the wheel of my 1976 Ford Pinto, I headed out from my home in Parker, Arizona, to Southern California on Highway 62, better known as the Rice Road. This two-lane stretch of asphalt was built in 1933 and lacked engineering, to say the least. The twists, turns, bumps, and hills were like an “E” ticket Disneyland ride in my Pinto. Conditions across this part of the Mojave Desert are harsh. General George Patton set up a military training facility here in 1942 to prepare troops for action in the deserts of North Africa. I too, was fairly prepared (but mostly naive). I knew how to change a tire and crank a wrench. The car was loaded with water, blankets, snacks, and my favorite Led Zeppelin 8-track. I was ready for the three-hour adventure and the Pinto was my ticket to freedom.
The trip itself seemed to soar by at 55 mph. I stopped to view any distraction that caught my eye; random historical markers, abandoned buildings, and pullouts where the scenery was the most majestic.
As Highway 62 veered slightly north, the road took me through what would later become the east side of Joshua Tree National Park (1994). My eyes were wide open as I passed thousands of the iconic trees with their branches extending towards the cerulean skies. Who knew that the countless rock formations
I witnessed would become a haven for world class climbing? It was just me and the desert in an
intimate space. It was here that Highway 62 showed me how to love the open road and left me with a profound respect for nature, history, and freedom.
When the highway calls, I grab my husband and go. Sometimes I drag the girls in the office out, other times it’s a friend riding shotgun. Most times, it’s just me and my dogs, but whenever possible, I take one of my grandchildren, sharing with them my passion for seeking the beautiful, vast, mysterious, glorious, isolated, grand places hiding along the unbeaten path ... and to protect them.
From the depths of Death Valley’s Badwater Basin to the adrenal rush of reaching Zion’s Angel’s Landing, the Travel issue of Etched Magazine takes you out on the open road. Journey with photographer and journalist, Nick Adams, as he wanders across the Mojave Desert. Witness the magnificent sights of the Grand Circle’s treasured formations. And travel the tracks to the train depots that changed history in the nineteenth century by bringing people to the region. From two-lane highways to narrow trails, the Travel issue of Etched allows you to truly Experience the Southwest.
When the open road calls, don’t silence it. Indulge yourself in the landscape and allure of the desert;
feel its grit on your skin, and let the sweat roll down your face. Feel how the hot air keeps you gasping for more, and the canyons quench your thirst. This is the euphoria of the Southwest.
Darci, Editor in Chief