Some people have quite an interest in antiques. They take great pride in owning some artifact that has been around for up to a hundred years. They display it in their living rooms. They admire its durability and its longevity. However in my opinion, if you want to see history in solid form still existing today, take a look at rocks. They have been around not hundreds, but thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of years. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes. The desert is full of them and they are free!

Before the invention of the automobile and the arrival of the white man, these same rocks were here. Many thousands of years in the future, in very similar form, they will still be here. Compared to the comings and goings of human life forms, rocks are real survivors.

These are some thoughts that occur to me as I ramble around our desert environment. The quiet, the stillness and the ever changing breeze seem timeless. The color of the hills constantly changes as twilight approaches, purple, blue, light brown to dark brown. In the wind, tumbleweeds bounce across the desert as though they have a far off destination targeted and are headed there.

When you look at the vast expanse of desert out here in the West, you realize how little of it has been changed and sculptured into what we call "civilization" by man. Most of it is still as it was when the pilgrims crossed it. They endured its hardships and challenges in their hopes of reaching the "Promised Land" they called California.

Nowadays, heading east from the Sierras is still a vast wilderness. After miles and miles of travel you finally come across some signs of human existence. Fence posts, telephone poles and strips of dirt road begin to appear. A graveyard, old automobiles, and then some scattered trailers come into view, a railroad track and a shallow creek lead into a growth of trees and green farmland. Then, there it appears - a town, like an oasis in the wilderness. A little over a dozen square blocks of houses, churches, school and park. Not much of a town but we are happy to call it home. A human environment carved out of and nestled in the desert.

Our town has weathered good times and bad. It was discovered, founded, built and expanded. It flourished for some time as a rest stop for weary travelers. Nearby mines were discovered and exploited. The railroad and highway came through town bringing many new residents. Farmers used the river water to raise crops. They turned a small portion of desert into productive farmland.

Over time, the mines ran out of their riches. Drought deleted the river flow, reducing farm output. The modern freeway bypassed our town and the trains stop here no more. Although it is reduced in size, our town still has life and vitality. Family's live grow and survive.

The desert of course on a much longer life cycle, also survives. I wonder how things will be off in the distant future. Will we humans tame and sculpture the wilderness into a modern, sprawling city, or will the desert reclaim its natural habitat?

Then again, in another perspective, you could look at our planet as one great big rock. We humans would be like ants scratching out survival on its surface. We have managed pretty well so far.

I would give our little town a fair shot at long life, happiness and success.

Dan O'Connor, resident of Lovelock. He can be reached at