My friend Jennifer and I went to the desert so she could do some research for a novel she’s writing. Somewhere between the sterile outlet malls of Barstow and the kitschy rustic ghost town splendor of Calico, we stopped by an RV park to ask some general questions about weather, water rights and desert life. The sign indicated that visitors should park on the road. We did, but wandered in the far entrance, toward the little trailer marked OFFICE. The silence of the desert is so startling to me that everything felt a little dreamlike.
Anyway, the suspender-clad bespectacled guy running the Shady Lane RV Court seemed cordial.
After a perfunctory greeting, he indicated that he’d already walked out to the road and checked out my car.
“I have to make sure I know who is walking around here or the guests get nervous,” he explained.
I didn’t see any guests, and attributed his zealousness to boredom, although I had told Jen on the way up the 15 Freeway that the desert seems to nurture a particular kind of paranoia. I don’t know if desert paranoia is different from swampland paranoia, or deep woods paranoia, but my friend Helen and I had experienced a few examples of desert “eccentricity” while visiting a Mojave wolf sanctuary last Christmas.