A stolen overnight amid the flowers

Timely notes from a desert wanderer that might one day be of assistance to other desert wanderers:

I enjoyed a really nice Saturday night out at Pyramid Lake on Feb. 16. We were out on the east side at the Pyramid/Stone Mother beach, which may just be the most scenic spot on the whole lake. We pulled up in the trailer on Saturday afternoon and got a spot away from all the ding dongs who were busy engaging in one of the most popular Pyramid recreational activities—pulling their stuck trucks out of the sand. My associate and I couldn’t help but notice that by the time the sun went down, everybody was gone. Well, OK. Gee, we’ll try to cope with being the only people spending the night on the most beautiful beach at the planet’s most beautiful natural desert lake.

Turns out everybody who split knew what they were doing. When I got back into town, I related the story to a friend who promptly informed me that I got away with one. I asked what she meant by that. She replied that that particular beach has been closed to overnight camping since Oct. 1. Uh—what? She said, Call the tribe if you don’t believe me.

I called and she was right. No more overnights at the Pyramid beach, a new rule that indeed kicked in as of this past October. And don’t expect a sign out there to inform you of this situation. There isn’t one.

As for this spring’s wildflower scene in Death Valley, things are looking good. I traveled to the park on the weekend of the 23/24th, and there were already a ton of the famed sunflowers known as Desert Gold in full bloom. When I got out and wandered up some of the washes, two things grabbed my eye. (1) There were quite a few flowers besides that one dominant species going, making for a very pleasant show right now. And (2) there are a lot more plants that are small, growing and comin’ on. If they get another shower or two, there could be a very nice display down there, florally speaking, by mid-March. The hot action spots were all along Highway 190 between the Beatty cutoff and Furnace Creek, which is easy meat for us coming in from the north. If you like wildflowers and you’ve never been to Death Valley, it’s really quite the spectacle.

In the world of desert eccentrics, there are lots of posers and wannabes. And then, there’s Marta Becket, who is, without a doubt, the real deal. She’s now 83 and still performing at her Amargosa Opera House, bless her heart. This year, it’s her “Sitting Down Show,” where she comes out, has a seat, tells the story of her amazing place, and sings a few of her tunes. Every Saturday night until May 10.

(As for the second part of last week’s piece on making love last by abandoning orgasms, it should be good to go next week.)