Upon my return to Ashland, while talking with my Mom the first couple of days I was back we hatched this idea of driving across the country to visit family, to re-discover America, and to have a mutually enjoyable adventure together while we still can! So, not much more than a month after my return, she and I packed up my trusty-steady Subaru and have hit the road!
Here’s my Mom, Julianne, grinning and giggling with excited anticipation as we set out from Ashland. She’s cute, isn’t she??
After an all-to-brief visit with my younger brother, Ralph, in Tuolumne, CA (above the Tuolumne river outside of Sonora in the Sierra foothills), Mom and I headed off over the Sonora pass. This is not usually open at this time of year, but they’ve had basically no snow this winter, so it was completely clear for us. Spectacular route over the Sierras, with lots of bare ground showing.
The temperature fluctuated rather wildly today, as we went from a fresh 65 degrees at the pass to 80, then 90 then 100 degrees by the time we arrived at Stovepipe Wells in the midst of Death Valley.
There was another valley we drove through before we hit Death Valley that had 25 mph winds and a dust storm like dirty blowing fog. We saw it from above, descended into it, then rose out of it again on the other side.
We stopped often for snapping photos, happily at ease with our pacing for the day. We arrived in time to take a deliciously cool swim in the hotel pool that was a popular place for most of the guests. It was clean, cool, and a lovely perk of our stay here. Met a couple from Amsterdam in the water! You just never know. Actually, I heard a few foreign accents ’round the pool.
I’ve heard Italian, German and other assorted foreign languages being spoken as people passed us on the trails. The rock formations as stunning, and my puny i-phone camera cannot begin to do it justice, but here are a few shots anyway…
The Devil’s Golf Course they call this area. The ground is broken in a wildly regular/irregular pattern of uplifted tufts along this wide section of the valley floor.
We hiked up a lovely rock canyon featuring marble slabs and old lava globs and flows, called Mosaic Canyon. Mom was such a good sport about getting herself up and down some of the slippery-smooth shelves of rock. I helped her as needed and we were able to make our way successfully quite a ways up into it. We were up there shortly after dawn and had it all to ourselves except for a friendly raven who was obviously used to handouts. I was only too happy to share a few crackers with him. I sat and drew his portrait in my journal. He was a wonderful combination of magnificently sleek feathers and gnarly, craggy beak. I think he might have been a rather old guy. I didn’t get a photo, but I have my sketch to remember him by.
We’re told the wildflowers were blooming over a week ago, but surprisingly, they’re predicting rain tomorrow, which would perhaps mean some more blooming things. We head out tomorrow nevertheless. I was struck by these starkly delicate shrubs that seem silvery and something out of a Tolkein landscape.