December 22, 2011

Death Valley

Chattering over washboards the size of coffee mugs, I continued the Syncro’s acceleration from second to third. 35 mph. 40, the silverware in the cabinet behind me stopped chattering. 45, the coins in the ash tray quieted down.

“I think the sign said, “Dust Control, 15 MPH,” my cousin, Nikko, grinned, peering up from the Delorme Gazetteer of Southern California.

“We would separate our retinas, if we did that.”  I swerved around a six inch pothole onto the soft shoulder.  “A teacher in high school taught me this trick on a field trip to central Oregon.  He would go 50 in a fucking school bus on one lane dirt roads. In-Sane… Instead of going up and down with every bump,  we are cruising over the top of them.  Plus it’s more fun.”

“Looks like it, just don’t tweet and drive.”

“Oh noo, this is a two handed, white knuckle job.”

In the distance, the straight-away took a sharp turn up a hillside, switchbacking towards a pass, some 1500 feet off the valley floor.

“Where are we camping tonight? I asked, looking back at the dust plume behind us and the warm light on the opposite hills.

“In the next valley.  The Park Service map says this shit dead ends in two miles, or so, but we’ll take that pass into the next valley.”

“Party on Wayne.”

A #vanlife kitchen.

Sunrise.  Dirt roads, like in the foreground, are standard travel.

Nikko taking in the view.

Translation  from Park Service Square, this means, “Good things lay ahead.”

Flash flood’s a’comin’.

Red roads.

Ribeye with asparagus and bacon. Dinner.

Sunset on the Saline Valley.


4:52 PM.

Open country.

An abounded mine turned rust pit turned shooting range.

Death Valley comes to life when you head off the main roads, away from the Cruise America RV’s, fanny packs and gas stations with scorpion lollipops.   Various jeep and hiking trails crisscross the park and surrounding BLM land, exposing remote areas.  This access combined  with December’s short days and relatively cool temperatures keep the park quiet.  For four days,  Nikko and I explored the area, and encountered 5 other groups.  Some things are better off season.

Here are some more links,

Death Valley (Picasa).


  • December 22 , 2011

    reminds me of scenes from kill bill! love the cracks in the dirt.

  • December 22 , 2011

    i think that was supposed to be in texas, not sure though. great flick.


  • December 22 , 2011

    Wanna know the real trick for roads like that? Air down your tires, smooths out ruts wonderfully. Love your blog, man. Keep living the life.

  • December 22 , 2011

    I’m heading to Death Valley next week! Glad you’re hitting some great places in California.

  • Kyle
    December 22 , 2011

    I spy almond milk.

  • December 22 , 2011

    how low to do run them? I run 35 psi in my tires so they are pretty soft. thanks for the kind words,

    Death valley is amazing. i will be back plenty of times. its in the top three places i have been in the last 5 months.

    I live off that shit.


  • December 22 , 2011

    When I’m running the Jeep off road, I drop to 15-18 PSI. The tires flatten out quite well and any jarring bumps disappear in the (now) soft rubber. You can actually run them quite low and it’s great for off-roading in general, just keep in mind that if you go too low you risk breaking the bead. No fun putting a tire back on the rim in the middle of nowhere. I find 15-18 just fine and it keeps my retinas attached.

  • Chris H.
    December 23 , 2011

    Im gunna take some time off n’join ya! It’l be like the good ol days! We’ll shoot guns, blow stuff up and do some backpacking! and ill teach you how to fly off a cliff;)

  • December 23 , 2011

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  • December 23 , 2011

    Merry Christmas!! I wish you ALL the best for 2012!!! Looking forward to seeing more of your gorgeous work!

  • December 24 , 2011

    I need to get an air compressor hooked up to my van. that would certainly come in handy. good luck on the trails,

    we are going to shred. cant wait. that will be a blast. you will be so pumped on the van,

    happy holidays to you too. thanks for the kind words,

  • December 28 , 2011

    An air compressor is extremely handy to have in your vehicle. I consider it to be a necessity. That and a tire repair kit. ;)

  • December 28 , 2011

    what air compressor do you use?

  • December 29 , 2011

    Right now I just use a cheapy little one I picked up at a local automotive place. It takes a little while to air up my tires, but it’s better then nothing. I’ll be upgrading it soon to a higher output one, but I’ll still keep it relatively small for ease of packing. Something like this: