Day Three: Free Birds

Desert News: The Sonoran Bird Collective is gathering this week near the Peralta Trailhead in Arizona to celebrate the desert bloom with traditional gospels. Performances begin at sunrise and go well into the evening. Everyone is invited. Admission is Free.

It’s glorious here. I can’t leave yet. How can I leave half way through a concert? And the sun is just so warm.

Yesterdays bumpy ride makes more sense to me today. I remember this from last year. The antsy-ness of not having to be anywhere in particular. The discomfort of my own company. The urgency to move because of a certain anxiousness that I might miss something, somewhere, that I don’t even know about. It takes a while to sink back into my own speed, without the speed of other people around to calibrate to.

So, today I calibrate with the birds, and Pippa. Who rang into the office and asked them to hold all calls.

Pippa, enjoying the sun after letting the office know she was dealing with a family event.

But we did need to attend to a bit of business. Although Allstays (a travel app that helps locate free and paid camping) shows free BLM land down this road, I haven’t been able to locate it. The GPS took us to the trailhead parking lot, and the National Forest rep there said there was no overnight parking or camping. They said they thought there might be some BLM land nearby, but that it is hard to get to.

So, I camped just down the road on the edge of the National Forest, close to the GPS pin , but I’m pretty sure this is Arizona State Trust Land. So, today I confirmed this, and purchased the 15/year annual permit online so I could enjoy this area for a little longer. I can’t print it out, but I could show someone the permit on my phone if needed.

So after an early morning concert over a cup of amazing decaf coffee and last night’s dinner leftovers, we moved to where there is better cell service but are much farther back from the road. Today we saw no one at all, and I can only see another camper if I squint high on a nearby hill. It’s lovely.

Our new camp site, on State Trust Land.

Pips and I took a long walk. I leave her lead on, and let her wander ahead. She has learned not to venture into the desert, where there are prickles. The sandy road is perfect for walking and she doesn’t need her little booties.

I feel like the air is body temperature, and I am swimming comfortably through it. Like a fish, that doesnt realize it is in water, I am bathed in the desert.

We can hear an ATV off in the distance but the birds are louder. I take photos, Pippa sniffs bushes. She wants so desparately to dig into the little holes under the Palo Verde, where the kangaroo rats live, but those little rodents are pretty smart about fortifying their houses with cacti spines. She also takes time to read all the morning newspapers – the coyote scat, the cow patties left by the free range herd that roams here, and I’m guessing some jack-rabbit pellets. I often wonder just how much information she is processing as she translates all those different “languages.”

The bold Phainopepla (whose name I have to look up every time I want to reference it) is an almost constant companion. I have taken to calling it Phenobarbital, primarily because that is all that comes out of my mouth when I try to recall it’s actual name. They remind me of cardinals up in Canada, the way they seek out the highest perches and then deliver important announcements to the whole neighbourhood.

A male, delivering the evening news. Sure beats CNN.

The rest of the day included an afternoon nap. I love how I can open both sliding doors and lie on my bed, catching a cool afternoon cross-breeze. And I love how I can move the van to create shade for sitting in at mid-day. You can’t do that with a house! I made dinner – a simple corn tortilla quesadilla with refried beans, mole and goat cheese. Did dishes and let them dry in the sunshine.

And here sit Pippa and I. A couple of free birds in a van, in the desert sunshine. Listening to the free birds perform.

I am satiated, like this big old cacti full of rain. And beans, my gramma would have said. Full of beans.

6 thoughts on “Day Three: Free Birds

  1. Your descriptions of the desert’s sites and sounds are like being there. Thanks for taking me along at least until I get there myself in September.

  2. Bathe in the desert! Exactly how I feel when out West. I love that wonderfully dry air. Such a change from my southern roots.

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