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Since I was a youth, I have had a fascination with deserts.  This attraction had its inception while living in Morocco and then the numerous times I crossed the desert southwest of America with my family as a military dependent. Upon retirement from the Marine Corps, I found myself employed as a contractor, training the Saudi Arabian National Guard in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for six years. During my time off, I frequently I was either participating in Hash House Harrier runs in the deserts surrounding Riyadh or I was on safari 1,000 miles south in the Empty Quarter near the border with Yemen, searching for Stone Age man-made implements: arrowheads, spearheads, grinding stones, and axes.

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I wrote Escarpments and  Sahara while 100 kilometers in the deserts

surrounding Riyadh. Tomorrow, God Willing was written

when I was on a ten-day safari looking for

Stone age implements in the Empty Quarter.     

In all cases, when I was in the desert my mind drifted, imagining what it must have been like to live and survive in such a desolate environment. My thoughts were dominated by my vision of what I had experienced in the deserts of Morocco during the 1950s when camel caravans were not that uncommon, and what I observed of the Bedouin Tribes while in Saudi Arabia. To me, it was self-evident that these people, the Bedouin Tribes, possessed a resilience and determination to acclimate to the harsh environs of the desert.

There is little similarity on earth to life in the desert. The days are excruciatingly hot, while the nights are cool, silent, and pleasant, especially in the winter. There are few places on earth where the clarity of the night sky is so flawless. Observing shooting stars was common place.

And then there was the deafening silence. Under such conditions, the inquisitive mind conjures up all manner of thoughts. For me, it was the silence, serenity, and visual setting of the desert, which excited my imagination.

In my mind’s eye, I could easily visualize that for millennia it was the hand of nature that had crafted these earthen sculptures and the vast sand filled empty spaces. All of this was crafted by the constant drifting and blowing  of sand across the infinitely desolate landscape.  

One of the most surreal incidents I experienced while on a Hash House Harrier camping trip was during a pitch-black desert evening when all was quiet, but in the distance, I clearly heard the distinct rhythmic cadence of Ravel’s Bolero drifting on the night air. I was pleasantly surprised that one of our members of the hash was play a recording of one of my favorite tunes, Ravel’s Bolero.    

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