A Long, Long Time Ago, In A Desert Not That Far Away….

A long, long time ago, in a desert not that far away….

It was a Saturday morning approaching the end of spring when I awoke with a yearning sense for adventure and a free Saturday to do whatever on Earth I wanted. I had heard and knew it to be true that a part of Return Of The Jedi was filmed at the Imperial Sand Dunes in Yuma, AZ. My window of opportunity was fading fast, soon it would be too hot to venture out and I’d have to wait until summer was over and the perfect conditions arose once again. It was now or never.

I grabbed my camera, hopped in the car and drove 4 hours to the Imperial Sand Dunes. In search of the site where a portion of Return Of The Jedi, the third movie of the Star Wars trilogy or the sixth movie…part six?(so confusing) was filmed. I’m not that huge of a Star Wars fan but I do know that Star Wars is kind of big deal so why not try to catch a glimpse of where the Starship Enterprise might have been. I’m joking! At the very minimum I know it’s the Milenium Falcon.

I did a little Han inspired internet search, found the GPS coordinates parked the car and started my journey with iPhone in hand to guide the way. I had noticed a posted sign that warned permits were required to access the dunes. There were many sand rails and ATVs spitting sand, whizzing off into the unknown, over the immense sand dune that held so much wonder of what could possibly be on the other side.

Because I like to follow the rules, I wanted to make sure that it was OK for me hike up the incredible sand dune that lay before my eyes so I walked over to kindly interrupt the Border Patrol agent who was hard at work doing doughnuts while riding on his ATV. I asked if it was OK (as in I wouldn’t get a fine) to journey my way to the old movie location without a permit as written on the sign. He told me that it was over a mile away and that it wasn’t a straight shot because there were multiple dunes I had to hike up and down to get there.  At the end of his explanation he said “Oh, you’ll never make it”. Perhaps he was unhappy I bothered him while on duty but nonetheless that’s all I needed to hear to prove him wrong.

The first sand dune I had to climb was taller than it looked from the highway. It towered above the industrial size power lines that hung above the parking lot. My feet sank and my shoes filled with sand with every step I took. My mouth immedialty dried out from all the sandy wind blowing around. My contact lenses were also a magnet for sand but I kept on going.

As I reached the top of the first dune the wind whipped my hair around in all directions. The sand looked beautiful, delicate fine lines showed the way the wind danced on the surface. It was the perfect Kodak I mean Nikon moment; so I reached for my camera to capture the moment quickly because the fine particles of dust were creeping into my lense and threatened to ruin it.

After successfully climbing 3 or 4 dune ranges, I had finally arrived at the spot according to my GPS. Well not quite because when I arrived at the top of final ridge and looked down to the very spot of where the scene was filmed, I could go no further as it appeared that there was a rally of ATVS causing chaos. While I had hoped to see some sort of evidence that the was movie was filmed there, the reality was that it had been 35 years since the filming and any remnants of what was have dissapered just as the wind has morphed the ever changing dunes.

Tired but happy I arrived back at the car excited to tell Mr. Border Patrol guy I had made it but he wasn’t there and it didn’t matter because I didn’t need any validation from him. I always knew I could do it.

Until the next adventure!

The Girl With A Quirky Side


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