Helping you discover the world & share your experience.
Login    Sign Up

Sagebrush, cactus and sand dunes - lures of the desert

  • Artemesia Tridentata - Sagebrush, one of the many things that thrive in the semi-arid desert of Kamloops, BC.
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
  • Kamloops landscape - An up close view of the typical landscape of Kamloops BC - sandy brown earth, sagebrush and pine trees. 
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
  • Kamloops BC - A view of the downtown and the Thompson River in Kamloops BC.
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
  • Riding the dunes - Using SUVs to explore the sand dunes of Abu Dhabi, UAE.
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
  • Abu Dhabi - A view of the Abu Dhabi desert from one of its highest points, Jebel Hafeet.
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
  • Desert sunset - Sunset over the Abu Dhabi desert.
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
  • Cactus - A big ol' cactus found outside Phoenix, Arizona.
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
  • Desert beauty - A variety of cactus at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, Arizona.
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
  • Cactus as far as the eye can see - Cactus in the desert surrounding Phoenix, Arizona.
photo credit: Waheeda Harris (Photo by Waheeda Harris)
by Waheeda Harris
From Adventure + Outdoors
October 5, 2010

My first views of a desert was my explorations at the end of my street when I was a kid. When I passed the neighbour houses surrounded by green grass, at the end of the street the desert lay waiting. The compact brown earth was dry and sandy, the home to sagebrush, cactus and the occasional reptile.

I never thought of it as unique or beautiful – but I’ve learned how amazing the desert is – in all its forms. For travellers who want to consider a new kind of landscape to become enamored with – head to the desert.

Canadian desert:

The area of Kamloops, British Columbia is referred to as semi-arid desert,  located between mountains, rivers, and lakes, north of the Okanagan in central British Columbia.

Sagebrush, easily found anywhere around the valley, is a prickly silvery green plant, revered by the local Aboriginal people and yet ignored by the residents, except when trying to plant non-indigenous plants. The heady scent is a welcome reminder whenever I return to my hometown.

Tumbleweed, dust in the wind and endless sunshine is the norm for residents, and anyone visiting this unique area always comments on the extreme heat.  This area boasts many lakes, lots of hiking, mountain biking and ski trails and plenty of space to kick back no matter what the season, but its the endless clumps of sagebrush that make this part of BC distinct.

 Middle Eastern desert:

When I got older I got to see the desert of Arabia – huge swaths of soft sand, with small rocky areas and an occasional group of palm trees to break up the endless vistas. The dust was constant, and the ground was always changing, the winds creating shifts in the landscape as the sand revealed and concealed its charms.

During a trip to Abu Dhabi, I went for a dune ride, sliding and slipping down the slopes of the sand in a small SUV. I was up front with the driver, and maybe the lack of anticipation made it more fun than scary, compared to my fellow passengers in the backseat, whose limited view convinced them it was a roller coaster ride of the desert.

I marvelled at the colour of the sand and the interplay between sand and sun, creating a glow that made the earth seem luxurious and soft. Despite the minimal vegetation, the desert here is just as alluring, with its unique textures and occasional oasis for a place to cool off.

American desert:

A recent trip took me to the American desert – to the valley of the sun, Phoenix, Arizona. A desert city with a surprising wide range of lush vegetation – lots of trees, flowering bushes and plenty of plants, all surviving in the clay soil.

A visit to the Desert Botanical Gardens fueled my need for this desert’s stereotypical symbols – cactus. From small ground-hugging plants to multi-story tall sticks of green, the succulents showed me their full range.

With Camelback Mountain’s ochre presence within view almost anywhere in this city, the desert here was a welcome reminder of the extremes – dusty and hot, yet casting unique shades of cream, red, yellow, orange and gold on everything and everyone.

Like many travellers of the past, I've been captured by the desert and its unique revelations. As said by writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery..."What makes the desert beautiful is that somwhere it hides a well."

 

Share and discuss this story with your friends

Waheeda Harris icon

Waheeda Harris

I'm a Toronto-based freelance journalist, writing about travel, design, cuisine and people who are passionate about what they create. I’ve written for newspaper, magazine, websites and blogs since 2000, love taking photos and happy to share what I've found wandering our planet.



Located: Toronto Canada
Likes: Pacific rim, Middle East, Caribbean, islands, pop culture, art, architecture, cuisine, photography
Website: http://about.me/waheedaharris

More stories by Waheeda Harris

Surviving the sand dunes of Colorado

Surviving the sand dunes of Colorado
For those who love the desert landscape, the state of Colorado is not a destination that comes to mind – shouldn’t a traveller be heading to the Middle East or North Africa?  In southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve offers a unique experience...

Searching for Andy Warhol in Pittsburgh

Searching for Andy Warhol in Pittsburgh
Better known by its moniker Steeltown , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a tough city – its weathered the effects of decades of industry as well as became a haven for waves of immigration. It’s a city that has bred passionate people, especially when it comes to their Black &...

Leatherback turtles get a helping hand in Grenada

Leatherback turtles get a helping hand in Grenada
The Caribbean is more than tropical beaches and rum cocktails. Its also a place to experience some of the planet’s unique wildlife – and on the island of Grenada , the ability to witness leatherback turtles come to shore to propagate their species. From May until September,...

Calling all artists: Rockport is your destination

Calling all artists: Rockport is your destination
“Its all about the light,” said my inn hostess, “Once you walk around town, you’ll begin to understand.” I had just arrived in the coastal Massachusetts town of Rockport . Known for its artist community, I had taken the train from downtown Boston and within...

Spotting birds and blue holes in the Bahamas

Spotting birds and blue holes in the Bahamas
It all started with the call of a swallow. My guide suddenly stopped, turning his head to hear the bird call and said, let’s go! Following the rapid footsteps and explanations of Abaco Nature Tours’ Ricky Johnson, the fervour for seeing a local species quickly transfers to...

Exploring the ancient shrines of Chennai, India

Exploring the ancient shrines of Chennai, India
Chennai is a sweltering, ocean-front city - well known for its abundance of British colonial relics and its proximity to several silk factories. For visitors, the city's got much to attract, but its the numerous ancient temple areas outside the city that are worth a dusty bus ride south...

Making friends with a dolphin in the Florida Keys

Making friends with a dolphin in the Florida Keys
For visitors to the Florida Keys, the focus is on relaxing in the south Florida sunshine, spending some time on the water and finding the perfect spot to celebrate the sunset. But those in the know will want to meet one of the ocean’s most popular ambassadors, the dolphin. The...

Discover Miami's Wynwood Arts District

Discover Miami's Wynwood Arts District
For the art-obsessed, the annual Art Basel has put Miami on the international map for visual arts, but for those seeking the up and coming contemporary artists, take the streets of the Wynwood Arts District and be prepared for a unbelievable discovery of hundreds of murals and graffiti....

Snorkeling the coral reefs of Providenciales

Snorkeling the coral reefs of Providenciales
The Caribbean islands of Turks & Caicos are the perfect antidote for the 24-7 lifestyle. These isles immediately force a slower pace, encouraging any visitor to take time to get into the local rhythm. I was immediately encouraged to take time at Grace Bay , discovering the super soft white...

The three must-see houses of Palm Springs

The three must-see houses of Palm Springs
Exploring the Coachella Valley’s famous city of Palm Springs , I can imagine myself cruising from Los Angeles along Highway 60 to the desert oasis in a vintage 1960s convertible. I’d pull up in front of my mid-century house, it would be cocktail hour and we’d toast the...

Recent Activity & Recommendations