|Lenticular clouds shifted and slithered for hours entertaining us in the Alabama Hills outside Lone Pine, CA, early on our spring 2017 road trip. More photos below.|
We're back from five weeks touring the Southwest and Texas, and, as usual, I have way too many photos and stories. I rarely have time to blog while traveling in our small Roadtrek van, but I attempt to jot down a daily account of trip highlights. I'm looking at it now, and deciding how to start. How about at the beginning?
In mid-March we drove from our southern Oregon home to Beatty, NV stopping a couple nights in Reno to admire the grandchildren. We need a grandkid fix every couple months so their adorable selves don't disappear, in our absence, into children we hardly know, and who don't know us. Most of our road trips involve a night or two with them, coming or going. Ok. Just one photo.
|Noah and Hadley sharing a secret. She may be asking him if he has bacon to share.|
The Actual TripBeatty, NV on Hwy 95 is a gateway to Death Valley, and as such, has developed a quirky character. It's good to spend a night there, or nearby, if only to get an early start into the park, the entrance to which is just 32 miles west. Early morning light in Death Valley is not to be missed. Get up early!
During a road trip to the Southwest in 2007, we stopped at Rhyolite, a ghost town just a few miles outside Beatty en route to Death Valley. It's well worth your time. We stopped again this year, for old time's sake, to discover that it's even better now. Something important we've learned after thousands of road miles; it isn't just the national parks and famous attractions that make traveling edifying....it's also Rhyolite and other roadside oddities, small surprises that you often enjoy in blissful solitude, as we did in Rhyolite, or a sparse crowd, as in the Alabama Hills. (Coming right up!)
|These ghostly Last Supper sculptures in Rhyolite are eerie and evocative.|
Rhyolite sculptures appear to gang up on our van. Also at Rhyolite: a house made from glass bottles, a colorful stone mosaic sofa, and a huge labyrinth.
|The sofa had been brightened up since we last saw it.|
Climbing out of Death Valley over the Panamint Mountains into California, however, we stopped for a quick hike at a place we'd missed on earlier trips, Father Crowley Point Overlook. Surprise!
|Imagine fighter jets flying below this canyon's rim. According to the photographers, they do so almost daily. Check it out, should you find yourself at Father Crowley Point.|
Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA
Just outside Lone Pine, the Alabama Hills rest in the glory of their movie days —at least 150 films or TV productions since the 1920s—while most travelers scoot by on the ultra scenic Hwy. 395, not knowing what they're missing. Alabama Hills, managed by the BLM, is a jumble of impressive puffy-looking rocks and formations with the Sierra Nevadas, including Mt. Whitney, as a backdrop.
Since our trip to Africa in 2013, during which my best travel day ever occurred, I've come to see the world through a camera lens. I don't think of photography as missing out on the moment, but an opportunity to see more closely, more clearly, to be more aware of how landscapes and people intersect, and how light, color and form create magic. The light on the mountains in the panoramic photo above lasted a minute or two, max. I caught this view shortly after I awakened in the van and peeked out of my mountainside window. The sky was pink! The mountains were golden!
I threw on pants and a jacket, leapt from the van, snapped the photo above and a couple more, then RAN to the nearby Mobious Arch, maybe a quarter mile away, the object of which was to frame the sunrise on the mountains through the window of the arch. I was carrying my Lumix Panasonic camera, which I purchased for that fabulous trip to Africa, but I mostly used an iPhone7Plus. Except for telephoto shots, I now prefer the phone to the Lumix.
|I documented our location on the Earth before charging toward the Mobius Arch. The light had already changed. Still good, but lacked the glow present just a minute earlier.|
The Alabama Hills have set the scene for numerous film and TV
productions, many of them Westerns.The couple above are modeling
for an outdoor gear catalog.
|Sunset the previous night saw the lenticular clouds settling into the Sierra Nevadas.|
We sipped wine in our camp chairs, grateful for the present moment and those still ahead of us on road, where many surprises awaited.
Next up: Joshua Tree National Park