Death Valley – So Much Life!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Being an immigrant to America, it’s a holiday that I inherited without any family or traditional pressures – the one holiday of holidays that I get to start fresh without anyone else’s expectations on how I should celebrate it. So, a few years back, Scott and I started a tradition of road-tripping California – going somewhere (usually without wifi) where we can just chill. In years past we’ve mostly gone north – Yellowstone, Mendocino, Orr Hot Springs…but this year we went south. And it was incredible.

We spent a few days touring Death Valley and I have to say: I think it’s my favorite national park. the various sights were all so disparate and incredible – almost other-worldly-like. It’s hard for me to pick my favorite, but I think it might be the Mesquite Sand Dunes; maybe because it was the first sight that we saw, or maybe because I had this vision of us hiking to the top of one of the tallest dunes with wine and just chilling and we FULLY met those expectations. I’ve also always wanted to visit salt flats and Badwater Basin didn’t disappoint. The Ubehebe crater was absolutely breathtaking, and Rhyolite ghost town was eerie, especially with all the Burning Man-esque artwork placed about.

We closed the adventure with one of my worst irrational fears: getting a flat tire on a mountain after dark, with no service. We had tried to go see the Charcoal Kilns on a whim, but the gravel road kept detracting us (we really tried – twice in fact…and I think that damn road is the reason we got a flat). But there we were – on a mountain back road, trying to change a tire after driving way too long on the flat one because there was no place to pull over for too long. Scott got the job done, but the donut was really…flat itself. We managed to make an 8 mile trek on a nearly flat donut to Stovepipe wells where we got air for it and tried to troubleshoot where to get a new tire. Thank goodness there was rough wifi in Stovepipe. AAA was kind of useless and wanted to tow us to Mammoth Lakes – but we figured from our own research Ridgecrest was our best bet. We made it back to our hotel that night (a painstaking 30 mile drive) and tried to decompress with more wine…and the next day we made a nail biting 70 mile journey to Ridgecrest. We were able to get emergency service on a Sunday (for an extra $150) and not spend the night – and were safe in our beds back in Oakland later that night! All in all, a true adventure to wrap another epic Thanksgiving.

Photos below – I’m starting to get more adept with Lightroom and am absolutely loving post-processing!

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