Last week, we drove a Dodge Avenger through the California outback, with Gram Parsons and Midnight Oil blasting in the CD player. We saw our first condor, black and white, with board-straight wings. He floated above the red steps leading down from the High Peaks Trail through the Pinnacles. Out in the Mojave, I set up a tent near a Joshua tree, stopped a giant raven from tearing up the campsite of three So.Cal. frat boys, (by the time I arrived on the scene, the creature had eaten some of their tortillas) and climbed Ryan Mountain at the hottest time of day. In camp, three teenage partiers climbed a 50-foot boulder. They stood at the edge of the drop, twirling glow sticks, staring at their hands and jabbering until four in the morning. My vacation wasn’t exactly perfect. One night in a high country camp, a semi-deranged caretaker stole my utensils, water and sleepwear. Still, it was a good time. I’ll be back there soon.