Death Valley 2016
Towards the end of last year being both an El Nino and with a great rain that damaged many roads, Scotty&s Castle, and elsewhere, I had my hopes up that it would be a great year for a bloom in Death Valley. After the mid-winter rains, I figured it was enough to try and get some of my family out here to see it! After a bit of searching and finally finding a room, the trip was planned. Unfortunately my mother was unable to come, but my sister was still willing to embark upon a crazy adventure, and so Death Valley was on!
On our way there we saw a sign on the side of the 14 for an Indian museum. Why not, we thought, must be close. Well, after that sign, there was nothing...and more nothing...but, living in the connected age, we discovered that the museum did exist and in fact was ouside the town. Driving east, eventually the road was closed! But we tried to make it around regardless, but after the second road ended and we learned the museum was closed on Tuesdays anyway, turned around and went to the poppy fields. There wasn&t really that much poppy out in the fields, but there were lots of other pretty flowers out and some lovely vistas. It really is amazing that just that close to the desert floor the land turns into rolling hills and grasslands. Never would have expected that in Antelope Valley!
Red Rock Canyon is also along the way and, after a prerequisite viewing of Starship Troopers, stopped off for a little short hike. Unexpectedly there were already flowers here too! Great opportunitites to practice, but also made it very pretty. I had only seen flowers here once before and it made for fun diversions inbetween dodging the karmic tour bus that would plague our very lives all the way through dinner in Ridgecrest.
Death Valley itself was magnificent. Although the heat and the winds of the previous two weeks had pushed things past "peak bloom", it still was amazing. Having seen the valley in bloom many times, I&ve never seen such a large variety of flowers before nor have I seen the Desert Gold fields have such an extent. All along portions of the 190 and the Badwater Road they just made rivers of yellow lapping up against the mountains and the floor in all directions. Usually I&ve only seen fields in a few areas, but not so wide. Whole barren areas suddenly with the right angle and right light just lit up into bands of yellow. I suppose for a first time visitor it may seem underwhelming, but for those who have seen the stark, barren valley it really is a wonderful outpouring of life, striving to survive no matter what the odds.
As my family are not campers, a little indulgence was required...and yes, the Furnace Creek Inn, still wonderful! A great hotel with a wonderful restaurant, excellent gardens, though being 87 outside a little warm to go to the pool this time...but that's why there's a bar and terraces! Tents are great, but hey everyone can enjoy a comfy bed. I just wonder...having a continuous water source is such a scarcity in Death Valley I wonder what type of ecosystem thrived there before people turned it into a hotel. Then again, without it perhaps the entire valley would not be as respected and protected as it is today. Ah, the metaphysics that crosses one&s mind when drinking a Gibson and looking up at the stars.
Picutres were from the a900 system. Knowing that this was going to be a wildflower trip, a new 100mm macro lens decided to come along for the trip. I had its predecessor for my old film Minolta system but never really got a chance to use it except beyond a few trial rolls. I figured with pretty flowers it was time to have some more fun with macro photography!
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