Monday, September 6, 2010

The Day Filled With Horrible Realizations

Last Friday, Vol Fan had a day off from work.  Having a long weekend at our disposal, we planned a trip.  My first thought was a visit to Yosemite.  But apparently that was the first thought of half the population of the state of California.  Every reservable campsite in or near the park was booked for the weekend.

My second thought was to to explore the central California coast.  But apparently that was the thought of the other half of the population of the state of California.  Every reservable campsite along the Pacific Coast Highway was booked for the weekend.

So my third thought was where can I go that no one else will want to go?!?  That was when the idea hit.  Death Valley National Park!  Surely no one would want to go to Death Valley in the summer!!
Our plan was to camp in the mountains that surround the valley. ( Our plan B was to find a hotel room if the mountain camp was still too hot!)  So we loaded the truck with our camping supplies and headed into the desert.  Way into the desert!
Our first stop was Stovepipe Wells to stock up on a few things for dinner and to fill up the truck with diesel.  And that was when we made a horrible realization.  No diesel at Stovepipe Wells!

Our choice was 35 miles in one direction or 24 miles in the other direction to reach a station that had diesel.  We chose the 24 miles and headed to Panamint Springs.  And that is when we made another horrible realization.  When diesel is so hard to find, they charge for it like gold!!!  Lesson learned.
After purchasing our liquid gold, we headed toward our campsite.  Considering that it was 117* while we were pumping gas, we weren't really confident that our campsite was going to be too much cooler.  But elevation gain is a magical thing.  It was 81* when we reached our campsite!!  And things cool off like crazy when the sun goes down.  It was in the 50s the first night and in the 40s the second night!

Our campsite was at a place called Mahogany Flat.  It is at 8100' in elevation.  And it overlooked Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the United States.  Best part - it was free!!
We went about the business of setting up camp.  And that was when we made another horrible realization.  I had forgotten something very, very important for tent camping.  No stakes!  Oh well, there was nothing to be done.  So we set up the unstaked tent and had our very elegant dinner of hotdogs and Doritos while watching the sun go down.

And then something magical happened.  The stars came out.  Death Valley is very, very remote which makes for very, very dark skies.  As luck would have it, there was no moon which made the dark skies even darker.  And since it is the desert, there is no humidity which makes for very, very clear skies.

I have never seen such a brilliant night sky.  Nor have I ever seen so many stars.  So we just sat, listening to the quiet and gazing at the stars.  It was an evening that will long be remembered.

Finally the chill got the better of us and we had to head to the tent.


Busy Bee Suz said...

You are so adventurous.
I suppose it was hard to pack for both 117 and 50????
I can only imagine the beautiful night sky.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh My---you two have the best (most of them) adventures in the world. I would love seeing those night skies where you were... WOW---how special!!!!

Hope the tent held together for you --and that the wind didn't knock it down!!!!

Your dinner sounded wonderful also --since I love hotdogs and doritos. YUM!!!

Can't wait to hear more of your story....

Beautiful pictures... WOW!!!

T said...


Nothing like the desert night sky is there! I have very vivid memories from my childhood and camping in the desert or up in Big Bear.

Lori said...

I love these adventures of yours! How wonderful to take in such beauty. I sure love that you take me to such beautiful places. Thank you! XX

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

Wow! I hope you got some pics of those stars!