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Mojave Desert Ramblings (1966)

by Sewell "Pop" Lofinck

Thanks for recommending this week's book go to Rob, who writes:

There was a book that I got about the place written by a guy named "Pops" Lufedwink (something like that), called "Mojave Desert Ramblings". Basically, when the Navy first wanted to use the land for testing purposes, they first sent Pops out (then young) to keep folks off the range. He spent 15 years alone except for a donkey, a jeep, and a radio (they would call once a week)- patrolling a 30x40 mile area and a 30x60 mile area. In his journeys he met a lot of really weird fuckers living alone out in the desert hills. Seldom Seen Slim was the sole occupant of Ballart, CA and refused to give anyone information about who he was or when/where he was born. Another guy, a miner, stayed alone and built musical instruments like guitars and violins out of rock. And lastly, a gentleman named Burroughs spent 20 years of his life, until his death, digging a tunnel through a mountain. He would come into the town, work for enough food and supplies for him and his burros- and travel back out to his mountain to continue digging by hand. He died 20 yards short of the tunnel completion. Luckily a friend went up and finished the job. Crazy bastards seem to abound in the desert for some odd reason, but you have to find the ones living out of town in the middle of the desert.

You can see why a lifetime desert-dweller had to have this book immediately. "Pop" says, "there must be something about desert life that is conducive to cerebral activity, a stimulant to thinking on the part of man," and that the desert "stimulates expansive thinking" and "creates big ideas."

Now you know why Deuce of Clubs emanates from the heart of the desert.

Choice chunks of Lofinck wisdom:

  • It may never have occurred to you, but in my observations of this subject, I came to learn that nearly every great civilization evolved from a desert area. Our sciences, mathematics, astronomy and chemistry, had their beginnings in a desert land. Our alphabet and even the major religions of the west were born in desert regions.

    So, there must be something about desert life that is conducive to cerebral activity, a stimulant to thinking on the part of man. Maybe it is the broad horizons, the silent solitude of big, open spaces, the enormous starry night sky that stimulates expansive thinking or creates big ideas.

    The great Pythagoras (sixth century B.C.) said, "Go to the Desert, or it will come to you."

    What he meant was, that if you don't get out to the desert periodically, to get yourself reoriented, your mind will become like a barren desert!

  • Cities are an abomination. Smog and jangle and noise and traffic collisions and frantic speed are a greater hazard to health and sanity than atomic fallout. The casualties are just as dead as from war.
  • Science is working on a gimmick that fits in the arm pit to oxygenate the blood from air in the water for long periods without having to breath under water.
  • My human ego leads me to hope that man will be guided away from destruction, to living in a harmonious balance with Nature and himself.

    The ancient philosophers predicted that this state of being would come, about the equivalent of our year 2000. If that prophecy is true and our calendar is correct, that gives us 37 more years to learn in, before the Great Symphony of Nature becomes harmonious.

  • There is something about the desert that attracts the genuine personality -- so different from the bluff and fourflusher type you so often meet in the big city rat race.

    Of course there are some fakers in the desert, too -- but not too many.

  • You find interesting characters out here. That's another why I love the desert.
  • Went over to Ballarat the other day and had quite an interesting chat with "Seldom Seen Slim" Ferge. Hadn't been out there for almost a year, I guess. And you know Slim, he doesn't travel down here much, if at all.

    He is quite a character -- a real desert rat. The last remaining resident of Ballarat.

  • I asked him, "Slim, do you ever get lonesome living out here alone?" "No, he said, I talk to myself." Some confirmed desert rats get that way.

    He enjoys the wonderful desert solitude and he has his dreams of the past.

  • Speaking of coyotes ... Why the heck do people want to shoot these critters, anyway? They don't do any harm. They seem so lonesome and they're easy to get friendly with.
  • In striking a balance in our world of animals, it is significant to note that, following the period in which bounties were levied on dead coyotes, the rabbit population played havoc with alfalfa crops.

    Now, the ranchers would like to have more coyotes to keep the rabbits in check.

  • I sometimes shoot jackrabbits and leave them next to my cabin so the coyotes can have an easy meal during the night. Believe it or not, they became so accustomed to my charitable nature that they'd sometimes bark if I didn't leave something out for them.

    Before this, I didn't know that coyotes could bark like a dog. Another thing, I found out that they liked the sound of my voice. Now, it might be a reflection of my ego, but, I talk to them regularly out on the ranges and up near the cabin.

  • Coyotes sing at the full moon with a voice like a silver bugle -- when two or more get together, in perfect harmony -- the result is wild, delightful music!

    That reminds me of the Spanish term "Luna-Basa" (Moon-Kissed) from which we got the term "Lunatic."

    Note: A philandering husband is often referred to as a wolf.

    Just to set the record straight, it so happens that the wolf is one of the very few animals that stays mated for life.

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