Fear and loathing at the Salton Sea: Mummies don’t talk

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SaltonI’ve found I’m not a fan of the desert. First of all, it’s hard as hell on color-treated hair. The sun also does no favors for my very distinct “worry line” (aka the WTF wrinkle, because every time I say, “What the f***?” and truly mean it the line grows deeper). I see no reason to haul various two- and four-wheeled toys that will bash your body to pieces out to a place it will take Care Flight an hour to reach. Head injuries are just as much fun closer to civilization, where there is running water and paved roads.

We did see something neat in Southern California. I had no idea there was a giant salt sea (probably why the name of it is the Salton Sea) in California. It just came up out of nowhere, one minute we were passing over dry ditches that were all named and called creeks and the next minute there was a huge body of completely useless water next to us. People were streaming in with millions of dollars in toy haulers — every conceivable gas-powered, non-street-legal vehicle was present and accounted for. It was so weird. There was one gas station, and if you have money to invest I would strongly suggest the only gas station in the middle of the desert as a consideration on the short list. The place was packed.

George had to collect dirt for his Dad. He’s seriously going to be eaten by something one day while he’s bagging dirt for Pops.

“Hey, get out and take some pictures while I get this dirt.”

“Um. No. I’m not running around wombat country in flip-flops taking pictures of you scooping dirt into a baggie.”

“Wombats live in Australia and eat grass. Come on.”

“There are at least scorpions or scabies-carrying desert rats out there. Maybe even a rattlesnake.”

“Scorpions are nocturnal. There won’t be any snakes out here in the open, or rats. They hide from the hawks.”

“Who are you, freaking Marlin Perkins? How do you know all this crap?”

“I watch Animal Planet when I’m at home. You’re the one who keeps the TV on PBS — don’t you retain any of the stuff you watch?”

“Apparently not the things you retain. I’m pretty sure that’s a wombat hole. I do know that dead bodies don’t decompose as fast as you would think they should out here in the hot sun. They tend to mummify in the dry heat. I learned that on Snapped.”

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“See? Now we both know something new about the desert. Only mine doesn’t have to do with dead bodies and I’m on the correct continent with my animal references.”

“Well aren’t you Smarty McSmart? You know you’re being all superior while you scoop sand into a baggie that primordial cats probably pooped in. Way to go with scooping dinosaur cat poop. Hope you don’t get the hanta virus.”

“Mouse poop.”

“You’re scooping mouse poop?”

“No. You get the hanta virus from mouse poop.”

“Where do you get the useless factoid virus?”

“It’s obviously not useless. It’s come up in conversation.”

“You’re conversing with someone who’s afraid of wombat infestation in California while scooping dinosaur cat poop into a bag as a present for your dad. I don’t think any useless fact you have stored in your giant brain will make any of this OK.”

“Really? Because I think the one about mummified bodies is sounding pretty good. Mummies don’t talk, right?”