My Canadian nephew is enjoying his travels through Western USA in his trusty "Airstream" camper.
"We are often puzzled with ourselves. Why do we love the desert so? " he posted on his latest update.
I suppose the first thing you have to do is define desert. The dictionary defines it as a "waterless, desolate area of land with little or no vegetation, typically one covered with sand."
I also researched the average rainfall in the Mojave desert, the driest in North America, and it's typically less that 330mm PA, as opposed to London's 580 mm. By contrast, the Nazca Desert in Peru has an average rainfall of 4mm PA.
In My Day
I have visited two deserts in my travels. One was the region of Mendoza in Argentina. This huddles under the rainshadow of the Andes and it looks like a very fertile place. I found that, over the past 7 centuries or so, people have slowly been planting this desert so that it now supports a very active wine industry and can grow a range of crops and support a reasonable population. It struck me as a very lovely place.
It does all this on 234mm of rainfall PA.
The other desert was a very different matter. This was the Nazca desert in Peru. The West coast of Peru has virtually no rainfall and the Nazca desert is the second driest in the world, with 4mm of rain PA
We drove along the Pan American highway for what seemed to be endless miles, through an endless dirty ochre landscape. Along the roadside were little woven reed roofless huts in which people attempted to live.
The only water is underground, from the melting snows on the Andes. The Nazca people actually learnt how to bring this water under the desert to where they needed it, and then to store it.
Again, I found myself full of awe for the people who managed, not just to survive in this horrible place, but to have a complex society and to have drawn the wonderful "lines" in the gravel which survive to this day.
But I do have to say that I found this place inexpressibly dreary; it was monochrome, there's almost weather as such, no winds or storms. No grandeur. The only time there is water is in the unpredictable "El Nino" years when tsunamis swamp the coastal desert.
So loving or loathing the desert all really goes back to what kind of desert you're in and, maybe, how tamed and accessible it is.