...written on October 8, 2007
My dilemma? I managed to get through a big chunk of 2007 without solidfying any vacation plans. I usually use the cold winter months to dream, and I usually have a plan in place by the spring. Not so the year... I escaped to Zion National Park for three days in April, but a state of confusion reigned about my "later in 2007 travels". It was August before I decided to travel to Maine with my bike and camera, not for a tour, but for a series of day rides. When I was thinking of a tour, two weeks felt like the right amount of time. But one week of day trips on my bike met my Maine needs (for now) - so I still had a week to play with. That meant I wasn't finished with trip planning for this year. And I can't even begin to dream of next year until I figure out one more trip for 2007. Hmm...
First decision. This will be a trip for hiking, and for playing with my camera. It needs to be someplace different, someplace entirely new to me, or someplace that I haven't visited recently. And ideally, transportation should be simple. Flying is OK, but I'd prefer a non-stop flight to wherever I'm heading to wander, and once that big airplane lands, I'd prefer not to spend too many hours in a car rolling down the road to reach my final destination.
OK, time to stare at a map... For this trip I'm limiting myself to North America, and I'm focusing on national parks. I'm going to be heading out in late October, and I'd really like to be someplace that is reasonably warm. My eyes wandered over my map, and headed to the southwest. That doesn't really surprise you, does it?
Once my eyes started wandering over the map, Death Valley jumped out at me. I've been there once before, on a supported bike trip a long, long time ago. How long? Long enough that I can't remember the year. Let's see, I switched to doing self-supported (bike) tours in 1998, and my Death Valley trip was several years before that, so it's easily been over ten years. That's far enough away that my memories are somewhat dim.
But - I remember... I remember the temperature differences. It went from cool overnight to reasonable daytime temperatures, to unbelieveable heat - and that was in March when the temperature is normally (somewhat) reasonable. I remember the beauty. I remember, and yet, I don't. Death Valley jumped off of the map and invited me to visit.
Yes, I'm going to Death Valley, feet clad in hiking shoes, camera laden, looking for beauty.
Death Valley National Park: A Land of ExtremesI'll be staying in Furnace Creek, described by the National Park Service as "an oasis in a salt brine desert, a spot of greenery and life on a burning salt pan, and an anomaly in an otherwise extremely harsh environment. Water has always shaped and controlled the life that is here. Water is our life's blood."
Hottest, Driest, Lowest: A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and three million acres of stone wilderness.(Source: Death Valley National Park web page)
And I'll be wandering, exploring in the desert. Soon...