Sunday, July 09, 2006


This photo was taken in the Saline Valley, a desert bowl just north of Death Valley way down in South Eastern California. Judging by my smile, I'd say I had a pretty good night's sleep laying on the hard ground with nuisance pebbles digging into bony hips and rocks digging into the rest of me. Judging by my attire, I'd say this was late November, during Thanksgiving, and the desert temperatures at night at this time can be pretty darn cold.

It was on this particular morning that I solidified my standing as one of the soundest sleepers one may ever meet. I get my seven point five hours in, no matter the circumstances, basically uninterupted, and believe me, I enjoy every minute of it.

The Saline Valley is a big bowl that begins immediately east of the southern Sierra Nevada escarpment and contains some really lovely hotsprings that attract naked soakers from LA and beyond. To get here, you have to be willing to drive half a day on bad gravel roads, looking for a painted rock, which is the right-turn indicator, and to stay here you have to bring your own sleeping system which for me is a simple ground tarp and lots of blankets.

The Air Force shares this valley with the myriad naked hippies that find themselves here, and use this valley to practice their "strafing" techniques, and use the naked boobs and boobies as imaginary enemies to shoot at with their imaginary bullets. It makes for great fun for both camps, as the pilots get to rate the boobies as "worth strafing" and "not a strafer" and the naked hippies get to "easy moon" the strafing jets. No belts, no buckles... Take that!

Aside from the noise, nobody seems to mind the airshow from the ground. And aside from wise cracks, the pilots get to break up their monotonous 600 mile an hour flights two hundred feet off of undulating earth with terrain of a different sort...

As an aside, I thought it only fair to offer up this bit of advice. When you are sitting in a hot tub of mineral water, naked, having conversations with newly met strangers, and off in the distance you see a relatively large dust devil ( a miniature tornado), here is what you DON'T do. As the dust devil approaches, growing in size and picking up bucketful's of sand dancing its way toward you, and as you sit in the hot tub of mineral water watching this very interesting phenomenon with a group of naked tubbers, all talking about the size and strength of this little desert devil and how big it is getting, and as you marvel how it is not veering course and is indeed coming directly for you, don't get out of the tub and try to run inside of it. Don't do it, OK? It is NOT a good spontaneous "Gee, wouldn't it be fun if I ran inside that thing?" type of impromtu thing to do.

WHY? First off, going from wet to dry immediately hurts. The evaporation causes freezing (talk to the thermal guys) and it is like being hit with a bucketful of ice water. Bamn! Instant cold-pain! Then, when you briefly recover from the short-lived numbness, you get sandblasted. Sandblasting is for removing rust and paint. It is for removing an outer layer of concrete to clean it. It is for etching glass.

It is not for removing body hair as far as I'm concerned (depilatory) , and as a dermabrasion remedy, I'd much prefer a luffa. There are times in one's life when we aren't so thick-skinned and are apt to be hyper-sensitive and a bit fetal. This, for me, was one of those times...

Just so ya'll know...

Now, back to sleep...

My well-abraded buddy and his girlfriend were woken up at about six in the morning by an horrendous snorer. A water buffalo sniffing his way out of danger, snorer. A truffling pig, snorer.

And that snorer, was me.

But that's OK because I didn't mind. I was asleep. I was going to be asleep for another hour. So none of their complaining bothered me.

"Scott, you're snoring!'

"Scott! You're SNORING!"




My buddy heard the jets. He calmed down. The jets would stop this nonsense. 4 strafing jets were unusually loud. They came in screaming in multiple pitches. They stirred the air and sent pressure waves to the ears. They paralleled the ground and departed with their doppler working like it should and the pitches changed accordingly. But they were ALL LOUD.


Kinda like that.

That did it. Most assuredly. Nothing could sleep through THAT!

My buddy and his girlfriend put their heads back down on their pillows and closed their eyes, smiling to themselves...

"ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz" I snored.

"ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz...... ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz.......ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz"

At least that's the story they like to tell.