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a little snow and a whole lot of driving...

By Tuesday, January 17, 2012 , , , , ,

Bryce Canyon

As promised {a few} more details about our winter travels...

The first stop on our annual winter trip was Death Valley. Filled with alien-like landscapes, its a place of great photographic imagination. But I have to say, after being there twice, it doesn't really capture my imagination so much. We spent our first two sunrises at the Mesquite Dunes. The dunes seemed to transform before us as the light began to spill over the mountains that rim the valley. The ripples of the dunes caught the light and shadows, becoming more defined. Not a bad way to spend the first moments of the day.

the dunes

Lukas whittled us a little dreidel and we "gambled" away the middle of the day. That, and scouting our next photographic spot. We explored Badwater, Devil's Golf Course, Dante's View, Artist's Drive, and some salt flats. We kept busy!

During our explorations the car began to groan horribly when I turned the wheel. Sorry car, but we'll need to continue making turns on this trip. A stop at the tobacco spitting mechanic in Death Valley confirmed the suspicion... power steering leak. With a $2 bottle of fluid the groaning stopped and we were pretty stoked. Until a few minutes later back at the camp site I peered under the car and it was leaking furiously. Worried, I took it back to the mechanic who said, yeah it's leaking - just keep putting fluid in. Nothing he can do there. So with assurances that the car wasn't going to spontaneous explode we continued about our business.

Bryce Canyon

And our business took us from Death Valley through Zion National Park {unexpectedly} to Bryce Canyon. And Bryce was spectacular. Red rock hoodoos, a light dusting of snow, beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We were worried that the mild winter we've been having might mean no snow at Bryce Canyon. But, while the dusting wasn't fresh, there was just enough snow to really make the canyon pop.

By this point in the trip we'd stopped putting power steering fluid in the car. We had decided that it didn't make sense to just keep pouring it on the ground and adding it didn't seem to make turning the wheel any easier. Bring on the toned arms, we said!

Still, we were ready to leave the land of unexciting microwaved dinners and beautiful landscapes 3 days later {as planned} for a little more camping. Our last stop was to be try number 2 at Valley of Fire in Nevada. On try 1 last year we made the bad decision to stay in a little motel just outside the park in a little blip on the map called Overton. This year we were smart and snagged ourselves a campsite nestled among the red rocks of the park. The red rocks, platforms for the tents and covered picnic tables made us feel like we'd landed on the set of a 1960s aliens on Mars movie. It was just that awesome.

the wave
This year Valley of Fire was a win too because we found "the wave". And it was just a little disappointing to realize when we found it that last year we were just steps away, but hadn't found it. It is this amazing swoop of red and white marbled rock that looks like salt water taffy being pulled and stretched. If I had been ready to write VoF off the list after last year, this year brought the park right back on the list.

Valley of Fire
We caught some great light here as well. A wonderful thing for the photographer... and I found it pretty amazing too. Then, after two nights, we were on the road again - this time headed home. We pulled out of the park a little after 4am on New Year's Day. As we drove along the road in the middle of nowhere east of Las Vegas we saw fire works off in the distance. Then at the intersection, right in the middle of the road just in front of the car a sparkly green pyrotechnic exploded. To say we were unthrilled {really, that isn't a word?} by that shocking display would be an understatement.

Still, we made it through the early morning in Vegas without incident and eventually we made it back to Santa Cruz where the little guy was waiting for us. And that's how, this winter, we did a little snow and a whole lot of driving.

{P.S. If you were wondering about our buff arms and power steering... the arms never really got that buff - darn - and the power steering leak was a loose tube. A quick and not arm-and-a-leg expensive fix later the car is turning like butter. Guess it's back to pushups should I want to ever have toned arms.}

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