Sunday, January 1, 2012

Death Valley

Around midday on Wednesday, we pulled over to a scenic overlook into Death Valley.  There wasn't a picket fence with Death Valley on one side and the rest of California on the other.  The landscape just eased into the park.  Along the way we saw a whole bunch of mines, probably abandoned.  There was also an area of rectangular pools of water - not sure what they were extracting, but a car driving between them in the distance appeared to be floating.  Then the profile of the horizon started changing - palm like cactus or cactus like palms spiked up out of the landscape here and there, never close together, likely not enough water.  A couple were big enough to look like little trees in autumn, but most were stumpy.  As we progressed along the highway, they disappeared, but we couldn't help but laugh about how we felt like we were on some other planet from a sci-fi movie.  Then we saw a guy running with a rope trailing off his belt behind him connected to a tire.  That's when we really knew we were it was a different reality!

Over and over again I can say that the blend of colors were so amazing!

The texture of the land was fascinating, along with the striations of color.

I tried to ask a girl who looked like Maya or Maddie's age to take our picture, knowing how much those two enjoy playing with our camera, but her blank look surprised me.  Her father came over speaking a heavily accented English, and I realized my mistake.  There were so many foreign accents from all the visitors - mostly Asian in Death Valley.  (Yes, Thomas is in slippers.  Wore them most of the way to and from Portland, as well as in Portland.  What can I say?)

We enjoyed all the scenery in Death Valley and made an afternoon of it, since we knew that we wouldn't make it to Hoover Dam in daylight anyway.  Approaching the lights of Las Vegas, I dared let my curiosity get the better of me.  I asked Thomas what the strip looked like.  I have read about books and seen movies that reference the strip.  I really have no desire to spend time or money there, but to be so close and at night.  I dared!  I naively suggested that a casino might be the size of our property - ha!  Ten acres is probably a small casino and certainly not large enough for even a parking lot.  Thomas was a patient driver.  I might have lost it.  The traffic we got stuck in was akin to a line of people arriving for the Cirque de Soleil or other shows starting around dinner time.  It afforded me a little more time to look in all directions and then afforded me too much time.  We were both ready to shed the lights and crowds and people and lights and lights and flashing lights!  It's not like I didn't live a mile from downtown Denver for a decade, but I did feel like Dorothy about to be swallowed by a twister of commotion.
I would trade a picture of the lights for a picture of those cactusy palmy plants at Death Valley, but this is what I got.  New York, New York on my right.  Arc de triomphe was on my left.  Cesar's - Bellagio's - Luxor - on and on...  what a headache to be a taxi driver there!
So Thomas and I don't really worry about the other sneaking off to Vegas for a gambling binge!  It unfortunately kind of burned us out.  Thomas was a little edgy, and at the helm he led us onward to Kingman, Arizona for the night.  The Hoover Dam remained in the dark till next time.  We crashed at another classy Route 66 era motel and rested up for a big day!

No comments: