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.

Flat.

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).