Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rockhounding: Treasures in the Desert

The delights of the desert are endless. While some may define a beautiful landscape with words like lush, green, and colorful, I find the vastness and grand scale of the desert inspiring and beautiful. I'm glad to live in a world with a variety of interesting environments.

Driving away from the urban desert of Riyadh into long stretches of highway flanked by wide flat, rocky beige desert can either bore a person to tears or invoke a sense of isolation into an introspective person. Along the highway tent stands selling stacks of firewood, fuel, and water dot the way. This is the season for camping and it is a perfect time to explore the desert free from the scorching heat of the sun. Right now the sun is mercilessly bright, but the heat isn't intense and is lessened by a brisk wind which whips across my face.

We park our car off the road, on a hard desert track. The sand here isn't soft and red, but rather beige. A closer examination reveals the sand to be similar to a beach, with thousands and thousand of tiny grains of multi-colored sand. The sand is best viewed at eye-level, with your head close to the ground rather than at a standing view. Up close, you can see the individual grains of sand, the variety of colors, the smooth texture of the tiny balls, and the small fossils.

My two youngest children scoop up sand and rocks to make a desert in a bottle.

My boys discover that sadly the desert offers up more than just rocks and stones, but also yields a fair amount of garbage and tires. 

We found quite a few small fossils. Some of the fossils looked like they could be brain coral. I found a nice fossil with a shell on it, but lost it.

It was a lovely day and proved to us that the desert rockhounding is a fascinating exercise.

1 comment:

  1. There are certainly many kinds of beauty. I would love to be able to examine the desert up close.