When Joshua Tree National Park was my home

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It was late afternoon when we pulled into the Cottonwood Springs Campground on that September day in 1989. The only ones there, we sat outside of our motorhome and enjoyed a glass of wine and watched while the sunset turned the desert gold. Although this was not the Chihuahuan Desert of Big Bend, where we had been visiting friends, this expanse of the high Colorado Desert, part of the larger Sonoran Desert, was just as beautiful. This was our introduction to Joshua Tree National Monument.

My husband loved to tell the story of how the next morning, when he took our dog out for a walk around the deserted campground, it was so still that he could actually hear the wind through the wings of a raven that circled them before deciding our Sheltie would not make the meal he desired, and flew away.

There is a stillness in a desert park like Joshua Tree that you cannot find anywhere else. With no leaves for the wind to rustle, it is quiet there: peaceful and serene. And just like being on the ocean, the eye can travel for miles with no obstruction, to the distant mountains across the desert basin.

We did not know then that we would fall in love with that desert and eventually settle there, happily spending the next 23 years in and near the national monument. We just knew we would volunteer to work there for the coming winter season.

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