Ahhhh. The California Desert. I spend at least a couple of weeks down there every year and I've backpacked for up to two weeks and a hundred miles at a time across it. These nasty pictures to the contrary, it can be pretty darned amazing.
I've seen hundred-feet-long stretches of bouldered slopes just COVERED with ancient petroglyphs. We explored a canyon which was once an ancient sea bed -- its floor had tilted to become walls and was embedded with thousands of animal prints -- lions, ancient horses and antelope, and a string of mastadon tracks. Mary Leakey traveled here to study them during her lifetime.
I've bent over to get a drink from a stream, only to notice a single, very big and very fresh cat track in the mud next to me. I've felt the hair on the back of my neck rise up as a result.
We've come around the corner to find a cluster of bighorn sheep a few hundred yards away. Spotted snakes and lizards and rodents and coyote and kit fox and... the list goes on. Skulls and bones of all of these are found as well. We've cleaned the dust off ourselves in hot springs, climbed high up to find some of the oldest trees on earth (bristlecone pine), eaten snow on cold summits and tramped through 90-degree valleys on the same day, and just generally had one hell of a time.
I could go on and on -- the sunsets, and the sunrises, the sharp smell of the sand and the creosote bush (a plant capable of going DECADES without water, then springing back to glorious bloom at the first rain). Perhaps the most beautiful thing of all is the ability to sit quietly, listen for the sounds of cars or planes or trains, and hear ... absolutely nothing at all.
All of that being said, I sure as HELL wouldn't want to LIVE out there!