It's a false nostalgia because I never lived that life. But I always craved it. Or at least craved walking amongst its skeletons. The desert is so slow to heal that you can still feel the presence of the last occupants, be it days, months, years, or centuries since they last passed through. The fact there is so little evidence of prior visitors is a reminder to just how alone you are out there; when the evidence does stack up, you can see through the layers clear enough to understand who each of them was, what they could have been seeking, and just how seriously (or not) they might have taken themselves.
Kyle Hot Springs evokes that feeling of isolation amidst obvious signs of action. Concrete structures half broken down, piles of rusted and twisted metal, crumbled stone walls, all the signs of a history of ambition, effort, and decay. But growing out of that are the symbols of meticulous care and deliberate intent. So many bathtubs, all impeccably clean for living open to the dust, all interconnected with working piping and touches of comfort. Carpet sample squares carefully nailed to pallets as a barefoot deck. Detailed instructions on how to start a syphon, including a funnel. The audience is unclear. Somebody is putting in effort targeted to more than themselves, but for people they have no intention of ever meeting. Let alone getting to hear appreciation for the work.
I soaked a bit, before remembering that I don't really like to soak. Then cooked beans and whittled on a hiking stick for an unknown amount of time while Covid (the dog) made constant curious patrols of the damp and mineral-smelling rocks and artifacts. I thought about spending the night. But then got excited for exploring more endless desert.