My Cardboard Box

There will be Wind

with 2 comments

It is windy tonight.

Wind is a particular fact of life in the Mojave and in Southern California in general.  Fifteen miles south and west of me is the San Gorgonio Pass,  perhaps the windiest place in Southern California. It’s layered with wind farms that generate over 600 megawats .  A single power line connects them to the Los Angeles area, running behind the San Jacinto mountain. There is an attempt to build another line to the north up through the Morongo Basin, but it’s been tied up in the courts (mostly by the politically connected L.A. area art crowd who week-end up there.)

The most famous are the Santa Ana winds. Others have written about it with more skill than I could.

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”
Raymond Chandler, Red Wind: A Collection of Short Stories

There are hot Santa Anas and cold Santa Anas, depending on the season and all  coming out of depths of the Utah desert. In the southern Mojave they’re from the north and more an annoyance, an amplifier of already existing conditions.

Then there are the killers. These are  winter winds, usually heralding the arrival of a cold front. The South-Westers. The brutal ones, the doppleganger of the dreaded Nor’Easter.  They knock down billboards, peel shingles and trim, blow panels out of swamp coolers. tear the power lines off their poles.  They  flip RVs, tractor-trailers and remove their loads.  Imagine a load of PVC pipe, rolling and bounding merrily across I-10. For a long time about fifty feet off the side of a road near Desert Hot Springs was part of a modular home and its trailer, blown loose by the winds. One almost expected Dorothy to crawl out of the wreckage. And her little dog too.

The winds carve the desert and its people.  One doesn’t sleep at night when it’s windy. If it happens late in the week, expect the Sheriff’s blotter to be full by Monday morning. Same with the emergency rooms.  CalTrans plows sand off the highway after a windstorm. Call it the desert’s blizzard.  A car that has an un-pitted windshield is a car that hasn’t been here long. A car that has most of the paint blasted off its high points off is a car that’s been here a decade. A person in the same condition is a desert-rat. I have a sand-blasted flight jacket, courtesy of  a four hour field visit to Barstow.  I suspect a fashionista would love it.

Probably the most annoying: minute dust particles of sand. It comes through the cracks, around the seals, grits on your teeth. It settles everywhere, even on vertical surfaces.

John Steinbeck would’ve understood. Hubert Humphrey would’ve gone insane.


Written by PappyBro

March 6, 2012 at 19:19

Posted in Musings, The Mojave

2 Responses

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  1. Why would Hubert Humphrey have gone insane?

    trailing wife

    March 10, 2012 at 09:18

    • Hubert Humphrey grew up in South Dakota in the 1920s and 30s, during the Dust Bowl era. A famous quote by him was “I learned more about the economy from one South Dakota dust storm that I did in all my years of college”. It was said that he would often run a hand along any flat surface as if to wipe off dust.


      March 10, 2012 at 10:27

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