The Living Desert
Fri, 17 Dec 2004
Dear John and Delia,
It was so very hectic getting out of SB this last time. Marcel cooked us a whole chicken and a huge tri-tip steak to take with us and make the horrible drive down thru LA area easier! And we did finally make it!
Now we are back in the desert environment we love, at last! It may take us a week or more to recover from the stresses of the weeks in SB and get back to the good shape we were in when we arrived in SB from the north!
We are now staying for several nights at the Elks club in Indio - quiet, uncrowded, all facilities for $12 a night. Each day we drive the ten miles to the town of Palm Desert where "The Living Desert" is located. A very impressive non-profit educational center we had heard about for years but never stopped to see.
They have great outdoor animal and plant exhibits, all set against the backdrop of the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains. The museum conserves land as well as species and it appears as if all or most of the animals on exhibit were rehabilitated from injuries and could not be reintroduced into the wild - which they do when they can.
They have a veterinary unit, which one can tour, many walk-in aviaries (stunning black vulture, friendly raven, gorgeous cinnamon teals, to name a very few) butterfly garden with info on how to create one, areas that display the distinct vegetation of the Vizcaino (Baja), Colorado, Sonoran, Yuman, Chihuahuan, Mojave deserts including uplands and oases, Cahuilla uses of local vegetation, many small and large animal and reptile exhibits in which the animals can be seen clearly and quite close. (A mountain lion seemed to take an interest in me and followed me all around a large semicircular enclosure, coming as close to the screen as possible and sitting and staring at me from two feet away, periodically opening her (?) mouth as if to make a meow, no matter where I moved she followed (the perimeter of the enclosure is large) - the other visitors remarked in it. Was it the color of my shirt (red), my hat? What?)
The buildings and grounds are very well designed and kept up, and aesthetically harmonize with the desert environment. An active membership donation program and docent participation contributes to the pleasure of walking around.
After two days of exploration, (Bill spent some hours in the afternoon sketching in colored pencil - his first artwork since Lassen Nat'l Forest) we haven't begun to see the half of it.
I learned a lot I never knew before about significant biological differences between dogs, coyotes, and wolves, pigs and peccaries, mole rats and other mammals, etc etc.
My head is spinning with all the new stuff I have learned and Bill has retreated into one of the mysteries a friend passed on to us just to rest his brain!