Deserts are about getting rid of what you don’t need – you travel through them and leave behind whatever isn’t absolutely necessary. They whittle you down to your bare essentials, and leave you a better, if more battered, person afterwards.
Let me tell you that a long weekend in Death Valley is neither so romantic nor so transformative. It was lovely and I learned a lot about the different types of deserts, but I also learned that all those rocks and so very little vegetation gets me a bit down.
The desert, the National Park Service would like you to know, isn’t desolate. There are lots of forms of life there, and they are just as deserving of protecting as more verdant areas, like jungles or forests. This is true. But it just seems so damn barren. It was a beautiful place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.
Am I a better person for having gone to the desert? I believe that travel always widens your perspective on the world, both in terms of what’s possible to do and what’s out there. But it’s not like we were roughing it. The National Park has a lodge, and we stayed there. It was lovely.
There’s nothing like seeing the barrenness to understand why those literary metaphors of sloughing away what’s not important exist in the first place. You can’t have anything that isn’t necessary if you’re going to survive there. The land can’t support it.
I would absolutely recommend a visit, though. The land is striking, you can channel your inner geologist, and maybe even pretend that you’re Gertrude Bell or Lawrence of Arabia.
There’s really only one thing to do when you have a bunch of avocados that are about to be too squishy to use: make guacamole!
This is the Alton Brown guac recipe, and yes, it controversially uses tomatoes. I like extra veggies.
3 Haas Avocados (I had a bunch of small avocados from Trader Joe’s – I just used the 4 or 5 I had since they were on the teeny side)
1 lime, juiced
0.5t kosher salt
0.5t cayenne (yes, you can lower this amount if you find it too spicy)
0.5 onion, diced
0.5 jalapeño, diced (I remove the seeds – the cayenne gives it enough kick)
1 roma tomato (the recipe calls for 2, but that always seems like overkill to me)
1T chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
Scoop out the avocado pulp and put it in a large bowl with the lime juice, toss to coat. Add the spices, then use a fork (or your potato masher if you have one) to mash everything together. Fold in all the other ingredients. Let it sit for an hour, then serve.