So last I posted I was writing from Tonopah NV- then my friend joined me on the road and my extreme attachment to all things digital was paused. Instead of focusing on my digital life we headed out for beers and margaritas in the evening and talked about our jobs and real lives. Upon arriving home I was spinning in a flurry of activities until right about now... which means I must be on the road :-)
So back where I was.... in Tonopah with the temps at 7 degrees and snow on the ground. After wrapping up that real job thing of teaching we headed down to Beatty. We dropped off my rental car and headed out to see Death Valley National Park. It's the kind of place I've always seen signs for and wanted to at least see it.
So two non-desert type people head out to the National Park known for it's extreme desert qualities. I have to say it was a day with 55 degree temps- so cold but not horrid compared to our previous time. We were driving in my friend's truck which made for off road capabilities or at least dirt road driving. I must say for a National Park it was one of the least signed National Parks I've ever seen... there were interpretation signs but not as much road/directions.
I once again justified my purchase of the Federal Lands Pass last year since it was a $20 entrance fee park. I obtained my typical lapel pin and passport stamp (oh yes, I am THAT National Park geek). We even got out and walked to an arch. It was not a typical hike in that it felt as if we were treading rocks- feet sinking into the shale- at every step.
I also visited the lowest point in the US... and a few years ago I visited the highest point in the lower 48 at Mt Whitney. These two points are from what I can tell less than 100-200 miles apart. Well I could just google it now but I'm being lazy so as my dad used to tell me... "You look it up" and you can get back to me on that. The lowest point is in an Alakali flat. If you stand at the little sign in the Alkali flat the soil is all crusted and cracked and I know there is a technical term for that in my soil science book sitting in the basement but I'll go with it was just interesting to soak in. It was an odd experience to turn around and look up at the mountain of rock jutting up into the sky across from the parking lot and see a sign up there- "Sea Level" 258 feet above me. Now I lived near/at sea level most of my life so the idea of being below that was just... strange.
Death Valley to me was a completion of understanding East side topography (by this I mean the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains). It was a place I could not picture and wondered about. Now the sky was cloudy and grey so I can't say that it was overwhelmingly beautiful or anything but I do realize how it could appear with a blue sky above or wildflowers blanketing areas. When we were there it was desolate, unsettling, fascinating, and extremely worth it. I needed to see and comprehend it. I may go back again and hopefully visit the north end of the park with the dunes and such. But I do have to admit it's not on my top 20 list... but I'm also not too much of a desert person in general.
Once we were done at Death Valley we had dinner in Beatty and tried a few local bars- with the smoking in bars it was not our particular scene. Next day brought a totally rainy version of Vegas so hikes were cancelled, dog was stashed in a room, and the strip was explored. Please note for all people missing the Hawaii ABC store- there is one on the Las Vegas strip.
At home life proceeded to be crazy and now for the holidays I am in DC with family. Not sure if I'll head out to any sights or make it to some relatives to visit (seriously the snow here is impacting travel still). But if I do see anything new, unusual, or simply am in a writing mood I'll update you... till then :-)