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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Little Sahara

When I was a boy, we used to go out to a desolate part of the state called Little Sahara, where you could play on the dunes and I could do my favorite activity: hunting lizards. I remember one time going into the desert with my father and my best friend. We arrived after dark, set up camp next to my father's car, with nobody around for miles, and listened to an AM station on the car radio. There was a creepy old mystery on the radio, and we sat there, listening to the night sounds of the desert and getting spooked out over the program.

I went back to the Little Sahara as an adult with my wife and two friends and it had turned into dune buggy central. In spite of the clear signs that indicated quiet hours between ten and six, parents turned over the keys to their kids to race through the campground until about two in the morning. They started up again by five. It was not a restful night.

Other evocative spots I have visited in the deserts of Utah: Goblin Valley, Topaz Mountain, the Devil's Garden, the Fiery Furnace, and Skull Valley. I was lost once in the Fiery Furnace, which is a maze-like collection of fins, hoodoos, and spires much like Witch's Warts in The Righteous. I wandered away from the group to--what else?--hunt lizards, and found myself turned around and confused. I was about eight or nine at the time and it took a few hours before I found my way out. A search party had been organized by then.

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