The most impressive by far, was Death Valley. The experience as a whole was truly enriching, enthralling, unnerving, and educational. We left Las Vegas, fast and furious, happy and relieved to make it out alive, without landing in ‘debt valley.’ Haha, We gratefully crossed the Nevada border into California, via the park, marking a major mile-stone on the trip. On approach, the landscape doesn’t change significantly from state to state. Desert landscape dominates most of Nevada, and Death Valley is no exception. Suddenly, as you are driving, the roads starts to pitch ever-downward and it dawns on you that you must be entering the famed and infamous valley.
We stayed the night before in a town just outside of the valley, and foolishly didn’t fuel up at the last gas station before entering the park. Don’t make this mistake. Though it didn’t cost us much besides some expensive gas, the fact that you may run out does wear on the mind, heavily. You do not want to run out of gas in Death Valley. It’s probably one of the last places on earth you want to run out of gas. So, readers beware. The park is enormous, and you’re not walking anywhere fast. After 10 or 15 miles walking in the stifling heat, you’re likely to wither up like a raisin, quickly melt, dry up, and blend in with the surrounding alien landscape.
The park tested our resources and stature. Good thing the park head-quarters supply water, or we’d have been done for. On another level, one that doesn’t require the basic necessities, food, water, shelter, the valley, boosting of unruly and unGodly visual proportions, steals your breath away. Highs and lows, seemingly so close, yet so far away. The heat takes front and center, dictating your every move. Night time is when all the critters come out, the place comes alive, and you can finally breathe normally. Quite nice in fact, spent a lovely evening on a bench at furnace creek, scrolling down on Instagram, reminiscing my friends and their various activities. A coyote walk across the parking lot, cooly and casually, right past me. The temp. was perfect, around 9pm. If you don’t get an early start, you’re doomed to suffer the consequences, which is to walk the trails in the heat of the day, without protection from the furnace-like blasts of wind.
Again, if you take inevitability of death out of the equation, this park is most beautiful. The presence of water, yet invisible to the naked eye, the slight and steady slope of the alluvial plains, seem like a slow-moving quick sand, on a colossal scale, informing of what lies beneath. The mountain ranges, towering on both sides, locking you in and holding you there with a spell-binding grip. You feel like you’re sinking, and the truth is you are. The valley continues to descend, about 1 centimeter per year. You finally reach the bad-water basin, the lowest point in death valley, and second lowest point on earth. About -282 ft. below sea-level. If you’re with us, it’s around high-noon and blazing hot. Unbelievably, there’s water here, but it’s not the kind you can drink. It’s an over-rated puddle of muck. The location derived it’s name from a mule that was lead to the water, but would not drink, proof of the famous saying about the horse. Pose for a selfie, there’s not much to do here but look around, walk in circles, and taste the white sediment that’s on the ground crystalizing everywhere, it’s elemental make-up is common table salt.
For a much needed break, take the arduous drive up to Dante’s Peak. Aptly titled, inspiring scenes from Purgatory or middle earth. Never did I feel more like a vulture surveying his kingdom until I stood on the cliff’s edge over-looking the plunging depths and the brooding Panamint range standing solemnly and defiantly across the valley. The relieving part is the high elevation and cooler temperatures as a result. Enjoyed a lovely and memorable breakfast before heading back down to the over-bearing reality.
There’s much to see, and I’d love to describe to you in explicit detail, but you really must go and see for yourself. I know that it superseded my expectations wholly and completely. I’d been dreaming of this place ever since I was a kid, and could pin-point it on a map. Nestled in southeastern California, a prime location to visit if you have interest in planets, their moods, motions, elements, and landscapes.