The landscape of the American Southwest is amazingly varied and unique. Driving through the desert regions you could be among high mountains with snow then surrounded by endless flatness with dry bushes, tumbleweeds, and Joshua trees dotting the landscape. It is endlessly beautiful no matter where you go during the day, and the stars come out at night almost lighting up the pure blackness as the strange silhouette forms rise up on all sides.
Death Valley is an incredible National Park with so much more to offer than I ever knew. The sand dunes are some of the most surreal and amazing things I’ve ever seen in the morning light. The shadows play in such strange ways that it’s hard to tell what is real. This was an amazing way to start the day before hiking in slot canyons, up mountains, and along high ridges. This is definitely a place I’d love to visit more often.
Detours can be one of the best parts of a road trip, and yesterday we decided to head to Death Valley instead of Moab. We got here in time for sunset, and seeing the low sun on the amazing landscapes here was crazy. The biggest surprise to me the first time I came to Death Valley was how much colorful, varied formations were here. Everything is beautiful and carved by wind and water over centuries. This is one of my favorite places at Zabriskie Point.
Driving from Joshua Tree north through the Mojave National Preserve was one of my best accidental decisions. The sun setting over the large desert expanse behind the rows and rows of mountains was an experience I cannot recount through words. Being surrounded by nature of that scope is just a transcendent feeling. I pulled over and just kept looking around as the warm night breeze picked up. The rest of the drive would pitch dark with a sky full of stars and roads washed out from recent floods. Trying as it was, I’m glad I headed off the highways for the day to experience this place.
2014 was another very bad year for wildfires in northern California. As I drove through the region I passed several areas where fire crews were working tirelessly to extinguish huge blazes on the mountainsides. The flames were less obvious than the smoke that engulfed towns and roads, prompting many drivers to pull over to watch the choppers zigzag across the hills as they dropped water and turned sharply to assess the direction of the flames. As I drove out of the area this was the scene looking back. It did not look like a midday in summer but a post-apocalyptic landscape where the sun is fighting to get through.