We’re on the road again for family reunions, barely an hour from home on U.S. 395 north of Cramer Junction when we pass a pull-off with an informational sign and can’t remember what it’s about, so we stop. The young couple already there hail from Indiana, appear to be graduate students or young professionals. This is their first trip west; their first view of the Rocky Mountains (their rented SUV has Utah plates) and Mojave Desert. His parents are visiting from Taiwan; he translates the sign, and what we say, for his father; his mother is invisible behind the SUV tinted windows. Skus brings out a map, discusses their route and ours, tells them the Joshua trees are indicators of the Mojave although he can’t tell them the exact boundaries of this desert.
The young man leans into the SUV, apparently sharing the conversation with his mother, and returns with two cellophane-wrapped biscuit-sized cakes. “My mother asked me to give these to you. They are mung bean cakes from Taiwan.” We wonder if they are sweet or spicy, but we are delighted with the opportunity to try something new. We wish each other safe travel and go on our various ways.
The sign we stopped for shows photos and information on the desert tortoise, an endangered species in the Mojave. We leave feeling the warmth, pleasanter than the 100-degree July sunshine, of a friendly chance encounter. For supper in camp, we enjoy the bean cakes, slightly sweet, delicious with fruit for dessert.