One of the things I wanted to do with our television show was to share some of the great things the hi-desert has right here at home. In Dig Your Own, I explain where the Southwest begins for me - the Banning Pass. I know that's sacrilegious to some die-hard Southwest lovers, but I have my reasons.
For me, the Southwest begins at the Banning Pass because in 1898, John Van Dyke saddled up his horse, put his little terrier up on the saddle with him, and rode east through the pass into the desert. For three years, Van Dyke wandered across the desert alone, crossing borders with impunity, and writing a book simply called, The Desert. It's a beautiful and moving book, one of the true desert classics.
Whereas Van Dyke continued east and turned southeast across the salt flats where the Salton Sea now lies dying, we turned up through the Devil's Garden, the area plundered of its native cactii by landscapers - an area that helped inspire Minerva Hamilton Hoyt to advocate for the creation of Joshua Tree National Monument.
From there, we head up to Morongo Valley. where we visit Angel Canyon Circle, a place of global spiritual connection, visit with artist Snake Jagger, and drop by Cactus Mart to have Nicole, the owner, teach me about digging my own cactus. We wind up at Willie Boy's for barbecue, then I sit in with the California Celts (whose music is featured in this episode), and take to the mechanical bull in full pirate ragalia. I think it's a fun introduction to the area, and I hope you enjoy it.
Full interview with Snake Jagger.