Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Coincidence: a book, a picture, a hotel booking

We're going to the DEMO conference in a couple of weeks, which is in Palm Springs (well, at one of the gold courses that sprawl over what used to be desert). To see the real desert you drive to Joshua Tree and Twenty Nine Palms, which we did between PDC and WinHEC, and I was wondering if we would have time to do the same again when we booked our hotel, because it's beautiful.

Keys' View, Joshua Tree panorama

This is Key's View; you turn off the main road through the park and follow a die road that curves and then begins to climb and goes inexorably up and up. You finish in a parking lot with a path that runs up at about a 45-degree angle but from the top you can see the San Andreas Fault and into Mexico on a clear day - we had beautiful haze as the sun rushed down the sky and we could tell by the thicker haze where Los Angeles and San Diego were. I couldn't see a Mount Keys though...

Places like this feel like the roof of the world, with all the kingdoms spread out before you like carpets in a bazaar; it's wonderful to get the sense of size and scale of the world after all the busy bustling cities we visit. The desert refreshes us for the irrigated world.

And then when we got home from a cold and wet journey the other night and I decided it was the perfect night for a hot bath, I grabbed a book to soak with. The Court of Last Resort is Erle Stanley Gardner's account of the investigations he and the rest of a 'board of inquiry' carried out for Argosy magazine into alleged wrongful convictions. The second or third case is that of Bill Keys - the first settler in that part of the desert, the man after whom Keys' View is named and a very American West character. He refused to sell when the golf courses and the tourists arrived and gained a neighbour who seems to have had one of those brain tumours that turns people into compulsive killers; the neighbour was unfortunate enough to be caught by Keys setting an ambush (on the road to Key's View), Keys was unfortunate enough to be convicted murder rather than manslaughter for shooting him and Key's View was renamed. Enter the Court of Last Resort: Keys was released after five years and went back to shooting the tails off ground squirrels and building dams and ranching - and eventually the vista was renamed back.

I cannot find the book itself through Google, just dramatizations, but I did find a book about Joshua Tree that summarises the case and you can read *that* online.
Tags: photo, travel

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