Dunes, Date Shakes and Death Valley

Hitch 7 started out not with a bang, but instead, an extra night sleeping in our beds (which is equivalent to a cot for an SCA member). After the pre-hitch day ended, we spent that night in town so we could pick our CSA (no relation) farm box. The next morning we finished the last leftover tasks from pre-hitch day, packed up, picked up the CSA order and headed out to our campsite. During the four hour drive, we took a few wrong turns. Unfortunately, one of those wrong turns could not be corrected by a simple ‘spotter otter’. The path was too narrow and dangerous for the truck with the trailer to back up and turn around. After a failed attempt at going straight back, we knew that there was only one solution – to get girdled. We unhitched the trailer, pulled the truck around to the other side of said trailer and then got our girdling pants on (which happened to be exactly the same as our work pants we were already wearing). We deadlifted the trailer and pivoted it on the left tire. Once the trailer was back on the truck we set out to finally meet up with our fellow crews. Even after a difficult day with several tiring tasks, we still found time to socialize with the other crews. The first full day with the other crews was spent relaxing, conversing and enjoying two amazing places. After a morning of chewing the fat, we came out of camp “rolling deep” as the kids would say in a convoy of eight SCA trucks. The first stop of the day was comparable to the aunt who always gave you socks at Christmas. At least that is what I was expecting, until I saw the dunes in person. Then I realized that Aunt Mary hit the lotto and bought me a flat screen. The dunes were absolutely gorgeous. Their size alone was mesmerizing to a mere 5’6 man like me. Thinking back to that day, it may not have been the size or beauty of the dunes but the strong feeling of community. We all felt like one giant family on the beach (minus the water and crabs of course). Later in the day, we washed the sand off in the local luxurious hot springs. The first day of trail work on the China Ranch Date Farm was most definitely a refreshing experience for everyone. We mixed the crews together into different groups, enjoyed the leadership of a lovely BLM member and got to work in a truly astonishing atmosphere. My group spent the first day clearing a path for a new trail so a 200+ year old house could be preserved. Our BLM leader Rose told us the history of the house, which sparked a connection with the work that day. We also did some maintenance work with some other trails, but the work near the amazing artifact of a home was my favorite part of the day. As the next few days passed by, we constructed rock stairs, built bridges, touched up old trails, carved out a new trail, and redirected the water flow of a creek. On our last day of work, the owner of the Ranch treated every SCA member to a free date shake and the BLM member presented their sugar-covered thank you as well with cake and candy. The free date shake was delicious (and it was the 5th one that I had the pleasure of consuming since my time on the ranch). During the last night at our campsite, we were presented with the option of going back to the hot springs or gong to a local heated pool. I chose the pool, but both groups had a wonderful time relaxing that final night. The next day was spent taking a serene drive through Death Valley. We saw Badwater, the lowest point in the continental United States, during the drive. While we were not able to hike through or camp in Death Valley, driving through it still unveiled much of its majesty. With four days left in our hitch, we faced the daunting task of outreach. Outreach wasn’t discouraging due to some fear of speaking to the public or anything along those lines. It was the sitting. Siting in a chair for a multitude of hours is more tiring than an entire day of restoration work. However we made it through those two butt-cramping days and in the process handed out 269 permits and spoke to 378 members of the OHV community. The second-to-last day of this hitch was my favorite. We drove out to Sage Canyon, where I did my Environmental Education presentation about meditation. After changing into a very comfortable gi I spoke about the history, benefits and techniques of meditation. I then led my crew in meditation and asked everyone to address something that has been bothering them. Luckily the meditation went well as everyone felt at peace. Bridget couldn’t help but smile for a short period after the session. The next few hours were spent relaxing and further developing one’s sense of self awareness. We finished off the day with our post hitch meeting. It seems as if we can go nowhere but up as a crew at this point. Sure, we have hit the occasional snafu, but that is expected. And the fact that we can surmount those problems just shows how strong we have become as a crew. The actor Michael J. Fox once said “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” And nowhere does that hold more true than in the family that I call my crew. -By David Patrick Selllari