Island in a dry
lake. Dry Lake at Zzyzx panorama (small)

Standing in the middle of this landscape, try to imagine a past traveler on foot or horseback. The view must have been terrifying. Vast landscapes with no sign of water, and only scraps of life barely surviving in the desert. Few would have travelled this landscape, and fewer still survived. More wasteland over the horizon behind you, and more (how much?) waiting over the horizon ahead. With life so scarce, you could be travelling to your death.

This view meant life to a traveller crossing the dry lake, as in this view is an oasis. An oasis with plentiful water, grass for your horse, and enough game to keep you alive a while longer. Do you see it? Could the lone unguided traveller find the oasis? You might come across this pool only to realise that the salt-saturated water is undrinkable. Yet the oasis awaits just around the bend of the hill. Did they know how and where to look? Did travellers pass within a couple miles, only to die in the wastes beyond?

Viewed through the plastic window of an airliner, this landscape is distant and unremarkable. Viewed through the windows of an automobile, the sights blurring by are dreary and repetitious. Viewed on foot, standing still in the vast silence, the place weighs heavily on the mind.