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The Big Move: Deal with the desert or it will deal with you

Submitted by on Thursday, 20 August 2009 No Comment

The guys were grumpy and so was my hair as we headed back to the hotel after our first day at Fort Irwin, a day spent running way more errands than fried small fry should have to endure but both should have been enrolled in school a week earlier.

Water and ice cream solved the guys’ problems. My hair might be hopeless. Not to mention my eyes, skin and complexion.

Welcome to the Mojave, where sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory and you need to buy hairspray, eye drops, moisturizer and sunscreen by the tanker. You know they’ll let it through the gates to the post without even questioning the delivery because everyone’s in the same predicament.

I kidded myself that I was used to the heat – summer temperatures regularly top 100 in the last two cities I’d lived. What’s a few more degrees?

It turned out to be a few more than a few. The high was 89 degrees in Modesto the day we left our little house. It had reached 106 by the time we got here that afternoon.

That’s no anomaly, either. The average August high for Modesto is in the low 90s. For Fort Irwin it’s the low 100s.

There have been a few moderate – moderate defined as the mid-90s – days since we’ve arrived, but those have ushered in the wind.

Wind so stiff that even AquaNet, the super glue hairspray that was the foundation for many a 1980s Big Hair do, probably wouldn’t stand up to it. Wind that makes mincemeat of your contacts in no time, but unless you’re in the box or have prescription sunglasses, you wear them anyway because it’s better than the constant glare from the sun.

Wind that’s gusted up to 46 mph this month and inspired this little ditty to remind Boots to keep a death grip on his El: “Hold on tight or he’ll be a kite.”

Oh, and there’s the occasional thunderstorm that doesn’t deliver much rain but does at least give you a break from the relentless cloudless skies.

Cloudless skies that led to two days’ worth of sunburn, even though I was wearing the same tank dresses I’d worn all summer and thought I had what passed for a tan on my “whiter shade of pale” bod.

It might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I actually like the heat – even this much heat – far better than the cold. I’ve just learned not to poke my nose out the door between noon and 4. And I’ve switched to iced coffee instead of hot in the afternoons. I feel slightly dirty about that.

And every morning and every night now, I slather on the moisturizer – Aveeno with an SPF 30! – and dowse the eyes with drops. My hair still mocks me, and it might well for the next three years.

I’m thinking about giving in and trotting out a line that’s pure Oscar Mayer, learned long ago from a colleague more in love with her snooze alarm than I am.

“Sheesh, my hair looked great this morning until the weather tore it up.”

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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