Saturday, April 22, 2017

An Oasis in the Mojave

The sunset over Zzyzx
- by Edgar Bernal Sevilla, Curation/Education Staff

In my newest museum travelling adventure, I was asked by Linda Gilbert, my Anza-Borrego Paleo Society Childers presentation partner, to do our presentation with her at the Zzyzx Desert Symposium, put on by Cal State Fullerton annually in a research complex in the middle of the Mojave. I agreed and the Paleo Society graciously sponsored our presentation and I set off to the Zzyzx, not knowing what to expect.
Edgar and Linda smile in front of their poster
I had seen the sign to Zzyzx on the way to Las Vegas before, and always wondered what was up with that jumble of letters. I decided not to think much about it as I took off from the valley, more excited about the desert landscape I was about to witness than the actual conference itself (what a nerd I know). I was very intrigued by the differences in blooming desert plants. The bloom has been over in the lower Colorado for several weeks now, but just north of Palm Springs, the creosotes have flowers and no fruit. Slowly, the landscape started featuring more yuccas, with the occasional joshua tree. After a few hours of driving through the wonderful Mojave, I took a dirt road and arrived to Zzyzx.
The tranquil central pond of Zzyzx
The grounds were beautiful. The facility is essentially an oasis centered around two large ponds. The grounds were far enough from the highway that a serene quiet enveloped Zzyzx, with only the sounds of birds and other wildlife filling the space. I walked a small path to a pond of pupfish, which were tiny and beautiful. At the largest pond, a bird dove into the water and splashed me, which was an incredible experience.
The event itself was very informative. I learned so much about the Mojave. Two of the most interesting presentations to me were about desert tortoises, which I found fascinating and relevant because of our upcoming outdoor tortoise exhibits at the museum. I learned about the desert tortoise’s natural predators and their reproductive habits.
Overall it was a lot of fun. I had a tough time shortening my presentation to ten minutes but Linda and I did great. The poster she made for the poster session following our talk was gorgeous, and attracted a lot of visitors. That night, I took my cot to the balcony and slept under the stars. It was truly a great experience and I cannot wait to go back.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Edgar for sharing a lovely experience. I love the Mojave too, but had never been to Zzzyzzx