Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Surviving in the Sonoran Desert — If We Had to

©Bert Gildart:  We’ve been camped at Arizona’s Lost Dutchman State Park for almost 10 days and have particularly enjoyed learning about some of the uses of  plants once harvested by Native Americans. The campground hostess added relevancy when she said she’d been harvesting some of the Anderson’s Wolfberries, which now flourish.  We sampled them and agreed that they taste a bit like tomatoes.  In miniature they also look like tomatoes.


Anderson's Wolfberry, now growing in profusion just outside our Airstream.


Because they are so abundant we were not surprised to learn that Native Americans also made use of them, and research reveals the Navajo used parts of the plant as medicine and in ceremonials.

In times of famine various tribes ate the dried berries, which they mixed with saline clay to create a “food clay.”



In addition to many other uses, they also make for compelling photographic studies, particularly for those interested in macro photography. The berries are tiny, perhaps a quarter inch in diameter, and their red color adds interest to the study.

Another species growing outside our Airstream is the jojoba, also used by Native Americans who ground the jojoba seeds to create an oil.

As such they used it to protect skin and hair against the desert sun.

(Jojoba shown at right.)

Oil from the jojoba seeds was also (among other things) used to treat skin irritations and burns.  Jojoba seeds were chewed as a dietary supplement.

Put in other words, life in this — the Sonoran Desert — was possible through the accumulation of knowledge subsequently handed down through the ages.

Such knowledge is still useful.


Today, the oil from the jojoba is used commercially and just as it was popular with Native Americans so it is also popular contemporaneously for hair and skin care, particularly in the USA. As well it is used in the treatment of psoriasis, eczema, sun burn, skin care.


Anderson's Wolfberry, fruit according to campground hostess tastes like tomatoe and makes good jelly, which is one of her winter projects.

Though its uniform color does not provide for the same dramatic photographic studies, pictures reveal an interesting species that had and still has many uses.  Because it is growing in abundance immediately outside our door, understanding the use of  both the jojoba and the  Wolfberry provides insights into the survival of land-based groups.

It shows how Janie and I might start to survive – if we had to.



*Amargosa Opera House


One Response to “Surviving in the Sonoran Desert — If We Had to”

  1. Leigh Says:

    We’ll be somewhat near you next week at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood…if you’re looking to change locations!

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