May 30, 2011

Desolation and Intrigue - Death Valley

A lonely dirt road leads off the main highway and continues out through a desolate landscape. We are only a few hours from the bright lights and glitter of Las Vegas, yet worlds away. Among lava rocks, and desert shrubs. After a long drive out of the rain in Zion, it nice to have a bit of time to get out, wander around and explore. We set up camp, pop up the ECamper, and put together some dinner on the camp stove. We are alone, and only the occasional car speeding by on the highway off in the distance interrupts the silence. It almost an eerie feeling. Even though we are outside the actual national park, we sense that there is something unique about this landscape.

In the morning take our time packing up, before heading into the heart of Death Valley. Descending out onto the salt flats, past hillsides colored in various shades of greens, pinks and whites, and black. We turn off the paved road and continue descending until some 50 meters below sea level we stop to ponder where we are. The kids run out onto the salt flats to explore while I admire the odd beauty of the landscape.

We are only passing through, though it's easy to imagine the many possibilities the hidden canyons and geologic feature that we could spend days exploring. The landscape changes quickly, from bizarre volcanic outcrops, to sand dunes. We make the most out of our few hours in the park, only slightly disappointed that we don't feel the urge to spend more time searching out some of the other natural wonders. The desert is big, and the distances would require more effort than we feel justified after the past few weeks of traveling.