The Utah desert in a hot, dry wind and smelling of ozone; sharp curls of lightning and rolling booms without source.
View Dig! Dig! August 2010 in a larger map
It took over an hour of driving on empty dirt roads in the Utah outback, under crackling clouds and intermittent washes of dusty rain, to track down Baker Hot Springs. With only a pencil-drawn map copied from the internet, we looped far off course. Chasing one last road until it dissolved into ruts we dared not follow, we gave up and turned back towards our nasty little motel, frustrated at having come so close to our goal and yet to be denied.
Then the landscape revealed subtle changes and a colouration, a stain, could be glimpsed beyond the rise of blackened roadside scrub: the red dirt beside the road, so dramatic in the map above, was roughly obscured at ground level.
A short walk revealed pools, with no tell-tale scent of sulfur.
They were warm but large and shallow, coated with slime and as uninviting as the crunching salt-crusted dirt around them.
And then we found this one. Bathtub-shaped and bath-water warm, with a dock from which to slip in. An unexpected paradise.
If the town of Delta can be said to be an oasis in the desert, then our dirty little motel was a desert within that oasis; to be endured rather than enjoyed. The rain poured down, which was nobody's fault, and the people were largely charming.
A pot of hearty meatballs with tomato sauce and a pack of tasty Shock Top beer, with its bright orange and coriander notes, capped the evening pleasantly.
Up next: sea bugs!