I was invited to go to the desert with some friends. I wouldn’t have thought of going to the dessert for any reasons at all, much less to have fun, as they painted this ticket. I was told I would have lots of fun. That my family, and especially my two young boys, would have much fun.
I had taken all of that with a grain of salt, but me and my adventurous self couldn’t resist the temptation to see what this hullabaloo about desert fun was all about. I used to live in Pennsylvania, where we camped twice a year in the Poconos. It was all trees, rivers, waterfalls. Animals ranging from bears, to chipmunks. Activities would range from fishing, boating, nature trail, hiking, horse riding and even snow-mobiling.
Back there trees were breathtakingly beautiful in the fall months, when we would go. They would have rainbow arrangements of diverse colors as they bedeck mountain sides and valleys. It got cold at times too and we would spend a lot of time by the campfire telling jokes, talking trash and even listening to mountain music, on my hilly-billy friend’s stereo.
So for me to have fun in the desert it would have to be an adoptive move. My feelings would have to be explorative as Columbus and adoptive as one of those desert creatures. These feelings must be rearranged from the inside out, so that I would have no regrets. Comes what may I was going to enjoy this, and I was ready for it too.
So on this morning, grateful to be alive, we saddled the “pony” put gas in it and headed east on Highway 78 to Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreational Area, in Borrego Springs, California. This area of more than 85,000 acres of Southern California desert, offers not only camping but recreational activities for off the highway vehicles (OHV), biking, etc.
The journey was remote from all estimates as a city slicker. It was also quiet, partly because of the fact that rooster hadn’t put on his drawers yet, and we were going in the middle of nowhere. It was also a sober journey for me as I saw rock formations in mountains and valleys I had not dreamed of, making me reflect on the wonders of creation.
After an hour and a half of driving away from the city in our Honda Odyssey, previously referred to as “pony”, we arrived at our designation and our camping spot. Quite unlike the Poconos this spot was free, and much bigger, so that you have to ride to your nearest neighbor. Right then I knew that this was going to be different. Neighbors get edgy sometimes, from our experience, and will have the quiet code applied and shut you down if you are too happy after quiet time is passed.
A typical camp breakfast was served that morning. For us the typical was the usual pancakes and eggs bacon or sausage with coffee. There is always plenty for the seconders. Another typical for this area, that i was not used to, is that you can lubricate this breakfast down or “wash your face” with an adult beverage. There are no restrictions on these beverages compared to the Pennsylvania Poconos. Boy was that nice!
After breakfast it was time for exploration and boy was that cool! My sons were given the opportunity to ride around in a go-cart, and for their fist time they did well I must say. I was given a crash course in safety for my adventure and first time riding a quadruped. Some of those instructions were:
· Do not ride in anybody’s dust as you won’t be able to see where you are going.
· Keep a fair distance between you and the leader
· Acquaint yourself with that mountain and that mountain and the sun
· If you get lost follow your nose home
· Do not ride while under the influence
I, was just like that, introduced to my first desert outing and I began to lap it up like a desert traveler at an oasis. Under these circumstances the whole desert was an oasis. The whole expanse as far as you could see and as far as you could go was just pure fun waiting to happen. Whatever your means of squirrelling around, every inch of movement was just pure fun. My boys and I had a most exhilarating experience indeed.
We are back home now and as I reflect on My frolicking in the desert, and where I was a few years ago, (battling prostate cancer) I cannot help but being glad, that I am a survivor.
I have survived to the point of having fun in an otherwise harsh environment. I have survived where I can have fun with my boys, where I can ride quadrupeds and motor bikes on the sides of mountains and through desert valleys. I have survived where I could watch the desert sunset. Where the colors of purple, blue and red, gold, pink and yellow, dance for you before they say goodnight.
I have survived where I could lay back and observe the desert night-sky, looking at the constellations and even the moon dog. Granted it is not like the Poconos where you hear various birds and other creatures with their unique and beautiful calls. But should I care! This was another horizon that I have survived to experience.
I do recall too in this another sober moment, that some have not survived in the desert even while having fun. Some have in fact died while having fun.
The friends I was with made certain I was aware of this by taking me to the headstones and burial place of those who died doing what they do and love best. A veteran desert camper who is a daredevil at 60 with more balls than the law allows, and who schooled me according to the rules of desert survival and safety, did not hesitate to point out to me, that they died mainly, because of not observing the rules.
Not observing the rules! This penchant and such negative talent invariably catches up on us with dire consequences. One such area is that of our health. Indeed, there are rules about your health. These rules range from diet and exercising in the main. I am a firm believer that not observing these rules will kill you sooner than later.
When I migrated to America the Plymouth Rock of cheap available foods of red meats produced and grown with steroids, growth hormones, and preserved in “poisons”-preservatives, fell on this brother. I soon abrogated my natural foods of organically grown stuff, and a full belly became the norm instead of better foods. I have written expansively about the association of cancers with certain foods. (See The Real Reasons We Die pts. 1 and 2 of a previous blog).
I survived prostate cancer when I started observing the rules of good health, of going to the doctor once every 12 months. Observing this one health rule, enabled me to catch this disease early enough to get rid of it, before it got rid of me.
There are more horizons for me to explore. I intend to do so and have fun doing so with my family and friends. If your will is to survive, and if your will is to live on and enjoy life to its fullest without being cut off prematurely by some insidious disease as prostate cancer, stop… take stock, and do something about it now. If you choose not to, the next one in six men who will have the disease could be YOU!
Read more about my survival story at Prostate Cancer And Me…Or You, The Two Stages (Man To Man) available at amazon.com. Until then walk good and pack light.