A desert oasis where both the trees and the people are disappearing

Photo by William Foley on Unsplash

If the Angel of Death had a favorite vacationing spot, I imagine it would be the self-proclaimed oasis of the desert: Twentynine Palms, California, and the 800,000+ acres of nearby Joshua Tree National Park. The future of the park is uncertain. An estimated 1.3 million Joshua trees were burned in the Mojave National Preserve last August. As a result of climate change, the constant wildfires and consistent heatwaves are likely to destroy Joshua Tree National Park by the end of the century.

Conservation is tricky. With so many animals and plants facing extinction, it’s difficult to determine what we should…

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Alex Grey exhibit at Meow Wolf’s Omega-Mart exhibit (Photo by author, Jul 2021)

Independence Day is a day of tradition for me. Not so much fireworks and hotdogs, as I don’t particularly care for either, but it is a day for interdimensional space travel by way of cognitive recalibration, i.e., taking hallucinogens. I didn’t intend for America’s birthday to become my hallucinogenic holiday; it happened by chance. Sounds problematic — what with all the bangs, booms, and yee-haw boys — but I’ve successfully avoided bad trips for the past five years. 2021’s celebration proved extra special because what better place to melt your mind than the City of Sin? Just ask Hunter S…

Making the most of Zion National Park during its peak season

Sitting on the summit of Angel’s Landing (photo by Will, June 2021)

I’ll be honest. A few days before our arrival at Zion, I had begun to dread spending any time there. That may seem counterintuitive. After all, Zion is the fifth most popular national park. It is Disney World for park enthusiasts complete with brewpubs, cafes, souvenir shops, shuttle rides, and very long queues. The latter two coupled with the extreme heatwave that we were experiencing precipitated my dread. We were leaving the tranquil cold nights of Bryce Canyon for the summer vacation chaos that accompanies a visit to Zion.

I tried focusing on the positive things: We had, miraculously, secured…

Experiencing Bryce Canyon’s eclectic geography and history during its annual Astronomy Festival

Hoodoos seen in Bryce Amphitheater from Navajo Loop (photo by author, June 2021)

Bryce Canyon boasts ethereal skies, mystical trails, and happy campers. By happenstance, we arrived during the astronomy festival between June 9–12, in celebration of the micro new moon on the 10th. It was one of the first national park-hosted events to occur after the pandemic, and offered a glimpse at how synchronic these protected land programs can be when they’re well-funded and fully-staffed by people who enjoy their work.

The park offers two campgrounds: Sunset and North campground. The former can be reserved up to six months in advance, making it difficult to book. The latter is first-come, first-serve. The…

Exploring America

Vacationing in the outdoor paradise of Moab, Utah

Celebrating Pride at Delicate Arch (Photo by Will, June 2021)

Moab, Utah possesses an adrenaline-seeking ethos. It is filled with off-road enthusiasts: Jeep, dune buggy, and dirt-bike lovers drive down Main St. toward the town’s several unpaved trails. Giant trucks tow white water rafts through the city, likely headed to the Colorado River, which boasts hazardous rapids ranging from Class II to Class V. Buses emblazoned Redtail Air Adventures! advertise private plane rides above nearby national and state parks. Skydiving and ziplining are also popular air adventures in Moab.

I love new experiences, but since I am impressively broke, my exploration was limited to what one can see on foot…

Spending Memorial Day weekend in the Rocky Mountains

Surveying Dream Lake (photo by Will)

The inter-aisles at Safeway, once filled with easily accessible S’mores ingredients, are now empty. The children are coming. It’s the Friday before Memorial Day, so we know it’s a matter of time. Families bring their broods, sometimes five-deep, all sticky-fingered and red-faced. They swarm our camp site: A cacophony of high-pitched cries, “No fair!” “Mommyyyyyy!”

At the Jellystone amphitheater, the campground host leads a game of bingo. All the tables are occupied. Whenever she pulls a number associated with the letter “O,” she leads her youthful choir in exclamation, “Oooooh!” as if one of the participants has been called to…

Introducing your pets to mobile living

It’s 6:15 AM. I’m walking my small dog, Bambino (Bean), around the Hospitality House Travel Park in Cripple Creek, CO. The sun is sleepily rising over the grassy hills of the adjacent pasture. The ground is sopping from persistent storms, and I notice hoof prints in the fresh mud. I scan the horizon. We’ve been told that donkeys roam the grounds, but we’d yet to see them (a snow storm and a thunder storm in the same week likely kept them away). …

Thanks for publishing, Patrick! I remember dismissing this concept entirely in grad school, but it makes a lot of sense to me now.

An eclectic landscape matched by its eccentric inhabitants

Author overlooking the Rio Grande. Photo by Will (March 2021).

I’m not well acquainted with desert terrain. Where I’m from, near the Great Smokies, mountains are blanketed by deciduous forests that shimmer green in summer but give way to firecracker explosions of red, yellow, and orange around early October. The mountains that border the Chihuahuan Desert are spotted with cacti, lechuguilla, and the occasional Texas Madrone (at elevations beneath 6,000 ft.).

Mesquite trees cover the land surrounding the desolate highways that lead into Big Bend. These are spindly trees that cast ominous shadows at twilight. The locals call them “trash trees,” because they sprout on ranches where they are unwanted…

What we can learn from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as we strive toward personal betterment

Photo by Edvard Alexander Rølvaag on Unsplash

In psychology, there exists a concept known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This concept was introduced by A.H. Maslow in his 1943 publication, A Theory of Human Motivation. It’s a five-tier model that illustrates the needs within an individual that must be met so that the person can experience a sense of fulfillment within their lifetime. It was warmly embraced at the time of its conception but was overshadowed when personality trait compartmentalizing and “Quantify or Bust” methodologies became popular within personality research in the late 20th century. Statistical data is invaluable within the realm of psychology, but in my…

Kalypso Skitz

Nomad: I change my zip code every two weeks. Artist, writer, and practicing green witch. Entomophile and neuro-psych student. Visit skitzetc.com for more.

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