You know how sometimes you just need to get away? That’s exactly how I felt on the other morn when I woke up. I wanted a location to try out my new film, I wanted to get out in the sun, and I wanted to listen to some music and relax.
After pouring myself a cup of coffee, I sat down with my laptop and started to search for a place to escape… for a day… (I had plans to go to dinner at “The Cheesecake Factory” with my fiance later that night).
With a little help from Google maps, I realized that Death Valley was only about 2 hours away! ( It looks a lot further than that on a map). So it was decided, I grabbed my camera, some film, some more coffee, loaded it all into my Jetta, and off I went…
The first stop was to get some gas and water. Oh and food. There is NOTHING between Las Vegas and Death Valley, and I get hungry like every 5 minutes. Oh and when I say nothing, I mean it, not even cell service, so bring lots of supplies.
Long road after long road, I made my way to the hottest, driest, most desolate place in North America. Death Valley holds the record for the highest recorded temperature in the United States at 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913 and the lowest location as well, at 282 ft. BELOW sea level. By the way I knew none of this prior or during my trip, so thanks Wikipedia!
Death Valley is over 3,000 sq. miles, with many points of interest to visit (far too many to visit in one day)
As I descended into the park, the first spot I noticed dozens of cars and people gathered at was Zabriskie point, which looks like mars. The color of the sand is incredible, and the shapes are unreal.
Next I wanted to see some sand, so I headed to Mesquite Flats sand dunes. The dunes are vast and ever changing, and what looked so close felt so far, because for every step you take, you slide two back, but for the view it is worth it. I had intended to reach the farthest dune to get the best pictures, but when I had sand in my eyes, ears, mouth, camera and pretty much everywhere else, I decided it was time to go somewhere a little more firm and less granule.
I checked my gas tank and began to fear running out gas, I didn’t actually believe I was going to run out, but out here I didn’t want to chance it. I read in my visitor guide that they have gas at a few points inside the park! Great! The good news was that I would not die in the middle of the desert on the way home, thirsty and alone. The bad news was that it was $4.09 a gallon, I haven’t seen those kind of prices in.. Well, like a year and a half!
I started to get hungry, but my protein bars had all melted, and it was too hot to eat anything big, so I grabbed some trail mix and headed out again.
Next stop was Artist Drive, which is a 9-mile, one-way drive through some of the most amazingly colored hills and valleys, some great photo ops here.
By now, I was getting tired, and I was ready to head home, but not without visiting the lowest point in America first! That would be Badwater Basin. So desolate, so dry, so beautiful. Miles and miles of salt, and nothing else. People looked so small in the background and again, I had planned on walking to the furthest, most untouched reaches of the salt flats to get some pictures without people in them, but I was running out of water, so I decided to call it a day.
I got back into my car and started driving, just in time to catch the most vivid orange-red sunset (which you’ll have to imagine, because I don’t have pictures of it… because I ran out of film…) I’ll be back though, as I still have about 2,900 more square miles to explore. I’ll just need more water.