My far-more-adventurous-than-I-friend Caitlin suggested a few months ago that we go on a trip. In my twenties I traveled quite a bit, with time spent in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. But I hadn't been on an airplane in 6 years before this month. I am not one of those jet set destination photographers. And I'm just fine with that. I love photographing the people around me and clients who are a drive away.
Unbeknownst to me, Las Vegas offers cheap flights and good deals on hotels to draw people in for gambling. A reason companies have conferences there - they can save money and their attendees can see the sights in their off times. We got one of those cheap flights and then promptly left Las Vegas for a road trip into the California desert. So, my first time stepping foot in famous Cali, I saw not a spec of the Pacific. Also just fine by me. The desert is a magical place.
Caitlin really planned our road trip, driving first through Death Valley, which terrified me, then fascinated me. You lose all radio stations, cell phone coverage, and sense of time and space as you drive down into the Valley. Your ears pop constantly and when you leave your car, the silence is overwhelming. No birds, no other cars, no people, nothing. It looks like the surface of Mars. Or at least, what I've come to think the surface of Mars looks like.
We stayed in Airbnb trailers with outside fires and saw wild donkeys called burros that wander around everywhere. We met a coyote who seemed calm and expected food from us, which depressed me (don't feed wild animals!). We experienced the 42C heat at noon in Palm Springs, while browsing a vintage market in a parking lot. After spending lunch time in a parking lot in the aforementioned heat, we then found the Palm Springs public pool, which saved us (or at least, definitely me).
I scratched my knees on cacti in Joshua Tree, Caitlin took a motorcycle ride with some French tourists in a cactus garden, and we heard stories about something called a vinegaroon from our host in 29 Palms, CA. We accidentally came upon part of Route 66, whose signs have all been painted on the road, due to what I learned is to prevent the inevitable theft of the free standing kind. We relaxed in the tiny town of Nipton, CA, pop. 40, for an evening, which consisted of a store, a restaurant, an RV park, and the Airbnb cabins where we stayed. We attempted to swim in part of Lake Mead, AZ, but it was too cold (yes, it was), and saw a herd of big horned sheep mingle with the kayakers. On our last night we walked the weirdo strip in Las Vegas (both of them - I didn't realize there were two) and in the morning ate for the third time at a really good vegan restaurant before heading back to the airport.
A whirlwind five days!
Places I've been, people I've seen.