Considered the cornerstone of Joshua Tree National Park, this particular photo is of the Oasis of Mara which is a short and pleasant nature walk down a paved path from the national park headquarters / visitor center. When my daughter worked as an interpretative ranger there before sailing off into the Navy, she had the most interesting stories of what was witnessed just outside the large picture windows from inside the visitor center. One story that stuck in my mind, both kind of funny and sort of 'gross' if you aren't used to the ways of nature, centered around some European tourists experiencing desert life in all its glory one hot summer day. Both visitors and rangers were watching in awe and amusement the antics of a roadrunner in the garden area just off the patio. They are beautiful yet comical birds - and stealth hunters. Since there is shade and water, many, many desert critters visit especially when the human traffic is down - like on a hot summer day. Suddenly, the roadrunner nabbed a dove (I think - some kind of bird anyway. The dove makes sense because they aren't terribly 'aware' of their surroundings...). The roadrunner snatched off the poor creature's head and then began bashing it to pieces on the ground, feathers and body parts flying everywhere. The rangers went "Oooh.....wow.....look at that!" The visitors were totally grossed out and quite upset over the spectacle. From what I remember hearing, they left abruptly in a huff. I am wondering what they think wilderness protection areas are about? I must admit though, while I'd be kind of grossed out myself, it is sort of 'cool' to watch nature - pleasant or not - as the animals do what they must do to survive.
2012 © Diana Shay Diehl
Looking west from the JTNP Headquarters Visitor Center towards the Oasis of Mara, a desert fan palm oasis, one of 5 in our park. I have been to 3 of them and will be hiking to a fourth the 31st of this month. There are only about 158 oases known in North America...
If you are interested in learning a bit about the oasis, check out this link: