We had a perfect drive to Death Valley. The weather was balmy and there was very little wind. As we rose up the Tehachapi Mountains, we got behind a camper with its back door open and bouncing around. Luckily, his screen door stayed closed. I tried to wave at him to give him a warning as we passed, but the old dude had his eyes glued to the road.
Once we were down the other side of the hill, we were glad to be back in the desert. Dave found a spot he wanted to stop at and I managed to pull off the road. Someone created killer rocks in the middle of nowhere.
Soon the snow-capped Sierra Nevada peaks were peeking out over lower mountains. We separated the Rav4 from the Lazy Daze when the 4,000+ foot rise to Towne Pass was ahead of us. Driving it after the Lazy Daze was like floating on a feather. We reached the pass and coasted down 4,000 feet to Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley.
After selecting our patch of gravel, we set out the chairs, changed into shorts and sandals, and enjoyed sweet Envy apples with blue cheese and Cuba Libres. We’re back in the high life again!
The stars were very good that night, but the moon is waxing so we’ll get fewer stars and more moon as the week goes on. Maybe a moonlight walk in the dunes is called for.
On Friday, we woke up early to the dulcet tones of Dave’s iPhone alarm. The inside of the LD was 58 degrees at 5:15 a.m., pretty warm, considering. We chomped down a Clif Bar and headed for the dunes before sunrise. The up-and-down half-mile walk to the larger dunes got us out of breath but we reached them before the sun was up. When the sun reached them, the Cottonwood Mountains to the west turned an intense shade of red and bits and pieces of the dunes started to light up. And it’s quiet, so quiet.
Dave wanders around somewhat, but I pretty much stay put and just keep looking. It’s amazing what attention allows you to see. Patterns, subtle tones and shadings, odd little things.
Planes often fly over Death Valley and I ignored the sound of a nearby plane. When I looked up, a black Stealth bomber accompanied by a gleaming white plane was right overhead. It was unphotographable, in front of the sun, before I could get my camera off the tripod. The same thing happened to Dave but he got a decent shot. It’s an amazing sight.
After 90 minutes or so, the sun was pretty high and the shadows were getting harsh. We sat on top of a dune and contemplated the view for a while, then trudged back to the car. After returning from the dunes, I started the bacon and eggs and we had a relaxed breakfast. We hung around, showering, reading, looking at the dune images and enjoying the ambiance of our uncrowded gravel campground.