Desert Life

Here are photos from around Seek-No-More, our desert retreat on the Terlingua Ranch in Big Bend country, West Texas. The high Chihuahuan Desert is harsh, unforgiving country, but it is a place of daily miracles. Here the silence is beyond astonishing. Below, an evening fire in the earth lodge, with friend Steve Vessey. The earth lodge from the outside. Click to scroll.

Our friend Pascale put on her boots one morning and felt something odd. She took off her boot and shook it out, put it back on and it felt OK. A little later she found this squished scorpion on the floor. Lucky she was not stung! Lesson: When in the desert, always shake out your boots.


Honey bees started to visit us at Seek-no-more. At first they would come to the dishpan where we kept rinse-water. But they would drown in it, poor things. So we started putting out water in shallow dishes. So many bees came that they kept running out of water. When this would happen they would all fly away to seek for water elsewhere. But then a single bee would come to Sandy or to me, buzzing gently but persistently right in front of our face as if asking “If you please, we’d like some more water.” We’d put more out, and in minutes the whole bunch would be back. Later we took to leaving the hose from the rain catchment tank dripping slowly over the rocks in front of the house. Our friend James turned this setup into an elaborate 10-level dripping pool. The bees come in the morning and are back and forth all day, picking up droplets and transporting them to their hive, which we surmise is somewhere down in the arroyo to the east. It feels good to have a “job” to do in the desert, watering bees. We worry about them when we’re gone, especially when it is dry for long periods.

Outside and inside our desert research station. I built this modular two-story building with my students at MUM and then transported the panels to Terlingua, where Sandy and I erected it over a period of 10 days.


This is the view to the SE, of Croton Peak and the Chisos Mountains. We never get tired of this view, of the way the light changes throughout the day, highlighting first one feature and then another. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular here, as are the night skies.


I love this shot of the earth lodge. We built this with 12 students from MUM, the whole thing from start to finish in just 11 days. About 17,000 lbs. of adobe blocks, made right on the site were all chain relayed up the hill,  and went into the building of it.  There is something about being inside this building, something beyond description except to say that it is profound.  The only way to know this is to come here and experience it. Here’s a view of the interior (pardon the mess). 17309168_10210553866495462_6413509152978605352_n

We love our yearly retreats to Seek-no-more

and the high Chihuahuan Desert in Big Bend Country.