Thursday, March 1, 2012

death valley

President's Day weekend. The last remaining "break" of Winter semester. A whole 3 days. Aaron even got work off, so we decided to do something awesome and even take an extra day off to make it better.

Since we recently received some very awesome camping gear, this was the perfect time to try it all out. New sleeping bags made with Hungarian goose down (oooohhhhhh), cotton liners for our mummy bags (aaaaaaahhhhhh), compressible pillows that fit IN the cotton liners (whooooooooooooooo),  self-inflating mattress pads (gaaaaasssppp), and a propane stove (wwhhhhaaaaa). We were pumped just to get in our tent and try it all out!

Though the idea of the beach was enticing, the length of the drive was quite repellant. I thought Death Valley looked like a happy medium, so off we 3 a.m. Saturday morning. Of course, Aaron slept for the first 5 hours while I drove like a drone. There was some certain beauty driving through Southern Utah, which only I witnessed, and then it got pretty barren. 

Alas, Death Valley. The land of not-so-much.

There was a minor problem with the campground situation. We weren't quite sure what to expect in such a lifeless place--no trees to seclude you from your neighbors. The first campground we saw was just a long driveway with some tents set up next to cars, and a bunch of RV's. The next one was just a parking lot. On the far end there was "tent only" sites, so you could park and then set up your tent right at the edge of the sand dunes. All those were taken, so we kept driving until we found a free campground! Pull into your little slot next to a picnic table, set up your tent on the dirt by your car, and hope the wind doesn't sweep it away because there was no way to get those stakes in the ground.

Once we were all squared away with camping, we set out on a drive. It didn't take long for us to pull over and start climbing up a mountain, because all the mountains looked like you could just walk right up them. (It was really more of a hill.) We found a few signs of life.

Mostly we spent the time picking up rocks. There were some really cool ones! And lots that Aaron said would be perfect for skipping.

We were starting to feel discouraged that there really wasn't much to do here and that we would have no way to fill our scheduled day and half.

Mosaic Canyon was pretty cool, though.

It was about 4:00 and we were out of things to do. Since we were really so excited to get in our sleeping bags, we went back to home base and cooked us up some dinner. This was before our food revolution, so we ate burgers.

And we flipped them with an ice scrapper. We still have lots to learn as far as camping goes.

We went to bed at about 7:00, right when everyone around us was cooking dinner. Sleeping was amazing in our new gear. Aaron said he was more comfortable than he is at home.

Day two started off with more cooking and lots and lots of eating. Since we decided we wouldn't camp another night, we had to eat 12 eggs and a whole package of bacon before they went bad in our styrofoam cooler with a bag of ice in it. Gross. I'm ashamed to say we almost did it. Bacon first, no problem. Eggs were a little harder to muscle down, so we didn't get all the way through them.

Coolest part of Death Valley? The sand dunes! Unfortunately, due to the intense wind that was kicking sand up everywhere, we have no photos. But imagine us, with our shirts wrapped around our faces to shield us from the sandy wind, fighting against the sheer forces of nature to climb up very, very large sand dunes. We felt pretty hardcore.

Next? $4 showers. So good to be clean.

On the drive back out of the park we stopped and walked out to one of the salt flats. Again, it was kind of anti-climactic.

That was our Death Valley trip in a nutshell and nine pictures. All that happened after that was sitting in some strange tourist village to eat our tuna sandwiches on burger buns, trap a wasp in a bag by accident, and have Aaron take it to a far distant trash can, but still afraid it would come back and find us. So we left.

For Vegas!

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