Last year I had a marvelous visit on my own for the "super bloom" in Death Valley. I decided last Fall that I wanted to go out there a little earlier this year since I'd read that December and January were the least crowded of the year (can you imagine going in, say, August? Who are those people?). I asked two of my dearest friends to come with me. I've known Steve and Marty for nearly 40 years.
I arrived on Monday, at overdeveloped and busy Furnace Creek, and had two days to myself before the lads joined me a few days later. I made a few photos near Zabriskie Point on Tuesday morning.
This night photo is from my campsite. That is the Furnace Creek Inn in the distance.
I spent the next day, in shorts with weather in the sunny mid 70's, hanging out in Furnace Creek. I went to the old Borax Museum and the Harmony Borax site as well as driving the short road through Mustard Canyon. I was also visited by my favorite bird, "El Correcaminos".
On Wednesday I got on the road and listened to the Liverpool match on radio while waiting for Marty. The weather began to change and while the forecast was for rain I figured, "Hey, it's Death Valley. How much could it rain? How cold could it get?" This seemed especially true as I drove through a dust storm in the warm Mojave sun.
Marty finally arrived a few hours late but explained that the drive was so beautiful he had to stop and take photos along the way. Made sense to me.
We got up early and drove out to my favorite Death Valley campground - the much more primitive and isolated Mesquite Springs. Mesquite sits at 1800 feet in elevation. We should probably have stayed in Furnace Creek or gone to Stovepipe Wells which are much lower and warmer but, to me, Mesquite is more scenic. It rained all day (as had been forecast). Steve arrived that day after a long drive from the Bay Area. The three amigos were together and ready for some Death Valley fun because tomorrow had to be warmer, right?
Since it was Steve's first visit I decided to do the "tourist tour" which included Badwater and the Devil's Golf Course.
To my surprise, it stayed cold and it stayed wet. After many years of tent and cowboy camping we felt fortunate to have my little trailer to stay warm. We spent time inside watching a few movies on my iPad and singing folk songs to the accompaniment of Steve's guitar and Marty's harmonica.
We spent much of the next day at the Ubehebe Crater. That's Marty on the far left of the panorama running to take his next photo or perhaps trying to stay warm. Since the weather was so nasty it did preclude us from some off road travel but we're saving it up for next year.
I also made a few black and white photos on the trip as well.
We all went our separate ways at the end of the week but have decided to make this an annual trip. The planning has already begun...Death Valley holds a lifetime worth of fascinations. I will get to see Steve and Marty at the big shindig in Lassen this summer but I'll miss them until then.
Next I'll be heading to the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona. My hunch? It will be warmer and stunning but, without my amigos, not quite as much fun.
We sadly decided to trade in our failing Nissan Frontier Pro-4X in favor of a new Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Off Road TRD. Unfortunately, Toyota recommends a 500 mile break in period before towing anything. We had scheduled a camping trip to Joshua Tree (like everyone else apparently-record breaking crowds out there) and canceled that trip too. Since I'm headed to Death Valley next week I needed to put some quick miles on the new truck. We all love Pismo and thought a drive up there would do the trick. It's a four hour drive.
Wait? Did I say a four hour drive? In reality was a SIX hour drive sitting in traffic on the way to LA, in LA, in Carpenteria, and in Santa Barbara. If you're old enough you can remember when a trip up the coast was seldom "trafficky". California gets worse and worse...
We arrived at about 4:00 PM. We immediately stopped at Pancho's Surf Shop where Lilly had her eye on a cool sweatshirt. It was as busy as I've seen Pismo even during summer.
After the obligatory shopping we walked out to the Pier and I was able to make a few photos. The temperature was cool and the sunset mesmerizing.
My travel companions...
We woke up early the next morning and it only took four hours to get home! It felt like a miracle. This has been a joyous week having Lilly and her friend Kennedy with us. Since the truck is "broken in" next up is Death Valley with Marty and Steve.
One last photo of my enchanting daughter.
Happy New Year to all.
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.