Southwest Adventure, Living & Travel

DesertUSA's Reports and Articles

"Actual Contact" - The Quest of Jason W.A. Tucker

3D Model of the Marfa Pillars - Model by Ingolfur Gudmundsson
Marfa Pillars - CG visualization by Ingolfur Gudmundsson

The Marfa Pillars - Way out in the Texas desert, between US Route 90 and the Amtrak train tracks, a new Marfa mystery is waiting to be built. Called "Actual Contact," it will be an enigmatic, mystical mandala of twelve 10ft steel pillars inscribed with Jason W.A. Tucker's arcane symbols. It is the culmination of a long-held artist's obsession.

For the past 15 years Jason has been developing increasingly complex projects around a series of images. The images at first glance appear to be a cross between some inspired desert hieroglyphics and an imaginative space alien's technical drawing. More...

Montgomery, CA
Doorway from the past

A Real Ghost Town - California's Mono County contains a generous number of ghost towns, including the premiere ghost town of Bodie. But only 41 air miles southeast of Bodie lies a ghostly site that is for the most part forgotten, a town that was a contemporary of Bodie's earliest days. That site is Montgomery City.

When Mono County was still in its infancy, the town of Benton became a destination of miners seeking new strikes, and by 1865 was the county's largest town. The area became a beehive of activity and as usual, miners began roaming when nearby prospects became scarce.

The town site of Montgomery City was soon christened, but it never got very big. Attorney Pat Reddy, well known throughout the entire Eastern Sierra region, moved to Montgomery City in 1864. He had recently lost his right arm in a Virginia City saloon shoot-out, and began dabbling in a law practice. More...

Genera Magicicada - Tibicen


Cicadas - sometimes erroneously called "locusts," which are actually certain grasshoppers - belong to the Homoptera, an order of insects distinguished by piercing and straw-like sucking mouthparts. Worldwide, cicadas comprise about 2000 species, which occur primarily in temperate and warmer regions. The cicada, although larger in size, counts spittlebugs, scales, planthoppers and the familiar aphids among its relatives.

Like all insects, the usually dark to brownish to greenish cicada has three body parts – the head, the thorax and an abdomen. It has six jointed legs, with the front pair adapted for digging – a reflection of its underground burrowing life when a nymph. A strong flyer, it has two sets of transparent and clearly veined wings, perhaps its most distinctive feature. At rest, it holds its wings like a peaked roof over its abdomen. It has bulging compound eyes, three glistening simple eyes and short bristly antenna. More...

Home Station

Vallecito Station

Vallecito Station - In 1852, James Ruler Lassator, a 36-year-old native of North Carolina, married Sarah Waterhouse Mulkins, a widow with three young children, Loduska, Andrew and John Mulkins. Lassator moved his family to Vallecito (in what is now southeastern California) after enlarging and improving the abandoned building. The Lassators raised livestock and provided services and supplies to travelers.

In June 1855, Sarah gave birth to a son, James Jr., and in 1857, to a daughter, Sarah Martha, both born at Vallecito. At about this time, Lassator bought additional property at Green Valley, across the Laguna Mountains, and moved his family there, leaving Andrew to operate Vallecito station with the help of a cook and two other men. More...

Featured Video
Desert News


Featured Readers Blogs

DesertUSA is a comprehensive resource about the North American deserts and Southwest destinations. The desert is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors and to spend time in recreational activities. You can camp, hike, bike, fish or just explore this unique environment found only in the American Southwest. DesertUSA has information on national parks, state parks, BLM land, and the Colorado River and its lakes. We also have articles about the cities and towns located in or near the desert regions. Use as a resource to explore the many adventures that await you in the desert.



Books for Rockhounds with Maps to the Collecting Sites

Hot temperatures in the desertAre you interested in the temperatures in the desert?

Click here to see current desert temperatures!

Houseboats for Rent

Prospecting? Here's how to look for gold in the desert.

Copyright © 1996-2014 and Digital West Media, Inc.