We played in Death Valley long enough to get more pictures than I care to count, including this one of the moon.
Which made me think we should get a move on, since we still had some distance to travel to get to our campsite. I’d considered camping in Death Valley but all the free campsites are first-come, first-served, and have little to no facilities. The ones I could have paid for were well off the road I wanted to take, and I also didn’t want to deal with the late-night heat inside a tent with the kids. But we had a few more dunes to scamper down before we left.
A dead stick in Death Valley.
And a boy playing dead. In the shade, which was the only place you could touch the sand for more than a moment before it started to hurt.
Then, a few more scenic shots — I loved this place.
Then it was time to head on back down the road with Unhappy Frog. We were heading for the hills!
But before we got there, the kids were entranced by the landscape. I think they were salt flats, and the ground glittered as the sun dipped lower and lower in the sky. I allowed them to get out and run as I drove slowly beside them on the road. They ran and danced and twirled and while the photo doesn’t do it justice, they felt like they were dancing on diamonds or among stars.
I wasn’t sure where the camp ground was, exactly and I was getting antsy cause I dislike trying to find my site in the dark, shining my headlights into other people’s sites while I search so I was trying to hurry. I got the kids in the car again and only paused to capture some photos of the sun setting.
I knew we wouldn’t make it so I stopped briefly for a geocache, but I couldn’t find it within a minute or so and gave up and kept going.
We’d started this day at about 8,500′ elevation. Over the course of the day we’d gone to about 900′, then up to 9,000′. Down, down to below sea level in the Valley, and then following GeePS to our camp near Lone Pine, CA, we went up and up and up, switchbacking our way up a mountain. I hadn’t realized Mt. Whitney was so….tall. Our campsite was a bit over halfway up the 14,000′ high mountain.
We had no idea how tall it was because by the time we were out of the Valley, it was dark. Blind-fold dark, since there are no street lights, reflective signs, traffic, or any sign of civilization. We zig zagged up and up and went round and round the campground till we found our site. It was pitch black so I did not get any pictures of my parking job, which was awkward at best. The site was on three levels, parking, picknicking, and sleeping, so we had to haul stuff down uneven rocky stairs and pitch the tent in the dark. Good thing we’re so good at it by now.
What a long day with a lot of driving. The kids seemed dazed and confused and I knew it was bedtime. An hour after pulling in (and out, and back in, and out and back in again till I got it mostly right) we’d set up camp, walked a quarter mile to the bathrooms (well, pit toilet and no running water) and back, brushed our teeth and were in bed. I told the kids that if I have to get up in the night with anyone needing to pee, I was not walking that far and it would be the tree next to our tent that would be used. Course I was the only one that needed to. Ironic thing, 8 hours later when we woke up in the daylight, we saw a restroom about 50′ from our site. An hour later we’d broke camp, loaded the car and headed back down the mountain.
But that’s a story for another day.