When it comes to travel, we all have excuses.
Work is too busy, the family, or the classic, “whats the point, it’s only for 3 days.”
Change. Magic. Freedom. Exploration. The unkown.
Taking the mundane week by surprise and saying, we are done!
It’s not you, it’s me….
It’s Thursday and I must move on!
For us, we live for 3 day vacation getaways. We are busy professionals but we love to explore and travel.
Trust me. You CAN do many vacations in just 3 days.
So, this past Thursday we figured we’d take Friday off and head north. Numerous destinations were on the list as far north as Mammoth Mountain, among them being the National Parks of Death Valley, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia.
Thursday after work Yami and I sat at the kitchen table and decided to scratch Mammoth off the list. A few friends who had planned on going to hit the slopes cancelled and with my back still healing, and the crowds searching for fresh powder it seemed like the best decision.
The next decision was whether we should leave that night or the following morning to explore the unknown.
So, we figured, lets just flip a coin….
Heads we stayed till morning and tails we left within 20 minutes.
As it landed on the ground I quickly covered it and asked, “whats the call?”
Confused Yami asked, “what do you mean?”
I explained, your suppose to call heads or tails when the coin is in the air….
She then slapped stupidity into my face and said, “no, that would be making the decision. The point is for the coin to make the decision, thus heads for morning and tails for now.”
After stubornly trying to plead my case of no defense, I lifted my foot from the coin.
We packed within 20 minutes and off we went.
From San Diego we hit the 15 north and connected to the 395 for about 2 hours.
At around 9pm we decided to stop at a hotel,(pet friendly of course), and get some rest. Here we would check the weather and map out or next stop.
Ridgecrest was literally our “fork in the road”.
Head West toward Sequoia and Kings Canyon and or East toward Death Valley.
We decided not to head into the more inclement weather which ironically was West. Those parks were getting some snow and deep down I know Yami did not trust my tire chain capabilities, of which, I packed and had every intention of proving my skills.
So we head East to Death Valley.
Being the largest National Park outside Alaska at a sprawling 3.3 million acres, one can obviously spend at least a week uncovering all it has to offer.
For now, we had the evening.
DEATH VALEY NATIONAL PARK.
When we arrived at 3pm on Friday there was not an entrance fee gate with a ranger but a short distance along the road there was a stop off kiosk were we paid an entrance fee.
I’m sure many people just go about there way as it seemingly can be bypassed at the risk of a ranger stopping you, but our mentality was, what we give, we get in nature’s return.
So before we started our scenic drive we gave thanks to the roads ahead.
We began the scenic drives around the park and as Yami slipped out of the truck at one of our stops to snap a few photos outside, I whispered in Blanca’s ear,
“that mountain is calling me….”
When the mountain calls, I listen.
I spontaneously climbed this little mountain and it did not disappoint. It offered a great view of the lowest point in North America 282 FEET below sea level: BADWATER BASIN
I focused in on the truck with my fingers and called her name from atop this small peak but she could not spot me
Yami eventually figured out where I was by spotting me via her drone flight.
MAVIC PRO DRONE FOOTAGE
I was literally dancing on top of the mountain right before this picture she took.
This would had been great footage, but unfortunately she did not see me to capture it,
she was able to capture better pictures of Badwater Basin via drone.
Drone Footage of BADWATER BASIN
After my brief nature calling, I descended back to the truck where Blanca was waiting, and just a few yards up the road we met up with the wandering photographer hitch hiking for a ride.
Only Yami wears snow boots in Americas hottest locations….
We stopped off at one of the many visitors centers (Furnace Creek), and secured a map.
Me mapping out what we can do in 3.3 million acres of space in 3 hours!
We figured we were only going to spend a few hours so we would pinpoint a few spots.
Our first stop was at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
MESQUITE FLAT DUNES from a distance.
I’m sure these dunes offer some great photos early in the morning, and at closer range. We had Blanca and dogs are not allowed along the trails but to be honest, after visiting White Sands National Park in New Mexico, nothing matches those majestic dunes.
However, please, visit these dunes at early light when crowds are still asleep but the light is awakening.
Speaking of light, we were running low on it, and figured a good spot to see at sunset would be the Artist Palette along the scenic road of Artist Drive.
Blanca loved our 9 mile Artist Drive excursion that takes you through windy roads, perfectly sculpted mountains, and a pleasant display of colors atop the rocks which our formed by historic volcanic activity with mineral byproduct that illuminate the rocks “Palette”.
Death Valley, thank you for accommodating us. It was a short stay but I’m sure we will be back along our travels.
Blanca already misses you.
While exiting the park we juggled a few options for our next stop on the road and came up with a quaint town called Lone Pine just outside Mt. Whitney.
Lone Pine was about a 1.5 hour drive East of Death Valley. The drive offered spotty reception so it was a challenge to secure a hotel, and we actually somehow mistakenly booked a hotel 3000 miles away in Washington DC.
To be honest, Yami did not have her reading glasses on and could not see the phone screen, but we will just say “mistakingly”. However, my lapse in coin flip common sense was forgotten.
Of course we lost reception thereafter, but a few miles down the road we received signal and were able to pull over to maintain enough time to cancel and rebook our hotel.
We got in late so we went straight to bed but the next morning Blanca was on schedule bright and early at 6am.
Yami does not do mornings and she certainly does not do cold.
So Blanca and I hit the streets of Lone Pine for a morning walk and were greeted by the Eastern Sierras which was a pleasant surprise masked by darkness the previous night.
Over breakfast we planned out a day.
Lone Pine is known as being a pit stop town for travelers heading to Mammoth, Death Valley, Mt. Whitney as well as a location set for many old Cowboy Western movies.
We already excluded Mammoth and we just came from Death Valley, so that left us with Cowboys and the tallest mountain in the lower 48.
As is custom for Yami, she likes to feel the energy from the roads we are about to travel…
We highly recommend Horseshoe Meadows Road.
Yami being Zen on Horseshoe Meadows Road
Horseshoe Meadows road is a beautiful stretch of road that runs parallel to the Eastern Sierras.
Along this road you can stop at Alabama Hills, which is a location and short hike where many of the old Western Cowboy movies were filmed. These areas were also used as a location for the movie Iron Man to depict a backdrop similar to that of Afghanistan.
We stopped along this road to breathe in the clean air and feast our eyes on the snow capped Sierras from the sun roof.
A goal of mine has been to climb to the peak of Mt. Whitney. There is a lottery you have to enter in hopes of getting a pass to do so, but last year I was not picked.
I did the next best, most convenient thing,
I finished the 6 pack of peaks (6 highest peaks in Southern California).
However, this February I will put my lottery pick in again and have Whitney in my sights.
Taking in the views of the Eastern Sierras and Mt. Whitney from the road at which the hike to the peak and John Muir trail all starts: WHITNEY PORTAL
After rejuvenating our souls with nature’s beauty we took to a short hike which is less then a mile away from Whitney Portal.
If your with your favorite animal friend we recommend the Mobius Arch Loop Trail.
This hike allows dogs which Blanca was excited about.
Mobius Loop Arch Trail and it’s offerings….these our the views of some of my most favorite sights. Theres nothing like Yami’s smile, Blanca’s eager look of adventure and the Sierras.
Another spontaneous trip that all started with a simple coin flip to figure out when we would leave.
The where we would go was figured out on the road!
Work a 4 day week once in awhile and go explore.
You deserve it.
Take in all life has to offer.
The highs and the lows…….
This short trip brought us through the lowest point in America (Death Valley), to the highest point (MT. Whitney).
May things look up for you!