Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Friday, March 31, 2017

Death Valley Daze Revisited

We first visited Death Valley National Park in 2014, our first full year of full-time RVing.  We fell in love with the place--the vast distances, the stark mountains, the colorful and weird rock formations, the remote dirt roads, the dark skies and the sense of an indifference to human beings and their comfort. Last year was a so-called super-bloom of wildflowers in Death Valley, an event that happens about once a decade. We were hoping to get a repeat of that in this wet year, but in that we were disappointed. Secondarily I was hoping to photograph the full moon on the Mesquite Springs sand dunes, and that did happen as planned.
Camping in Death Valley is rough, with most campgrounds being exposed gravel parking lots without any amenities.  There is a real sense of peace, though, being in the middle of the desert with dunes and sun-baked sand and sparse vegetation as far as the eye can see.  'Course, we also had access to swimming polls at both Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek, so there was an aspect of a mini-vacation while camping here.  We'd hike or explore by truck in the morning, come home to eat lunch and head to the pool in the heat of the day. And it did reach 95 degrees most days we were in the valley, so the pools were welcome relief.
We repeated some favorite hikes like Mosaic Canyon and the Mesquite Dunes, and explored some new areas like the Chloride City mine site and Desolation Canyon. We also visited the Devil's Golf Course and the Badwater salt flats by the full moon for some amazing views.  Enjoy some highlight photos below and check out the Outdoor Project adventures I published while there.

Huge dune in Death Valley

Late day sun on the dunes

Mesquite dunes at sunset

The day before the actual full moon is the best time to photograph it at sunset

Full moon rising at sunset

Full moon rising over the dunes

Dunes at sunrise

The lonely path of a landscape photographer

The full moon setting at sunrise, Mesquite Dunes

The Devil's Golf Course by moonlight

Desolation Canyon

Badwater salt flats by the full moon light

The Devil's Golf Course by the light of the full moon

20 Mule Team Canyon

20 Mule Team Canyon

20 Mule Team Canyon

Sunrise on on Zabriskie Point

Sunrise from Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point badlands

Gower Gulch from the Badlands Trail

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Joshua Tree, Our Favorite Desert Park

Well I guess we've been having too much fun to update in the blog :-/

We HAVE been having fun since we reached the desert and started drying out from the months spent between the Oregon coast and San Francisco this past rainy winter.  After spending a couple nights in Bakersfield and seeing Buck Owens' club ...

Buck Owens' custom convertible behind the bar at the Chrystal Palace

 ... we headed for Joshua Tree National Park.

We visited Joshua Tree for the first time back in 2014 and really loved the park. We had a favorite campground and really hoped we could find a spot there this year.  Unfortunately we had to spend a night in an overflow camping area because Belle Campground was full, but the next morning we got a great spot there.

Joshua Tree is a unique place and a photographer's dream.  Everywhere you look there are huge vistas, weird-shaped Joshua Trees and piles of boulders looking as though a giant child had just dumped them out on the floor. The lighting is magical and the park is so huge the other visitors are not in the way.

We did some great hikes, including one to an abandoned mine site that has a stone shelter built in the 1890s that still has original artifacts in it. We hiked through the most beautiful desert scenery and scrambled up ravines full of boulders. There are also dirt roads to explore that lead far out in the desert where the solitude is incredible. Check out these Outdoor Project adventures that I published from here:

Here are some photo highlights:

Joshua Tree with rocks

Joshua Tree with sunset

The geology tour road at Joshua Tree NP

Historic Keys Ranch--a homesteading family lived here for decades

Original artifacts at the Eagle Cliff mine site

View from Eureka Peak (second-highest in the park) across to Mt. San Jacinto (second-highest in So. Calif.