Death Valley, Sea level 0, CA

Thursday, February 12th, 2009


I am trying to find the words describing our stay here as suddenly I think we have both felt misplaced on this land in parallel with the sea levels surrounding the continent. Zero elevation. Time has stand still, maybe because we have gained a couple hours throughout the day and we are back to a sun level darkening the sights so early getting us caught a bit behind in our visions. Some say it is because we are in Death Valley… as simple as that. Mother Nature has unleashed her fury these past days deciding to wet these grounds and prepare her palette for the upcoming wildflowers which should be spectacular. These have been the worse storms Death Valley as encountered as yet all the roads off the paved main ones are closed. Even open, as we did a couple days ago, they are too soft for “Old Faithful” to navigate safely on them, looking good on their surface, their depth is only a soft mud sinking us in with no traction.


Friends that were suppose to meet us here have canceled their own Journey, but we ourselves are not quitting. There are still yet some destinations and spectacular spaces we can experience. Will we cut our stay short? One day at the time are always my thoughts. They are still many days before our need to head back to “The Oasis” and if we leave early I have already mapped other areas we might stop by. It is winter after all, being here in itself is a good fortune, as always it provides me with a down time, much thoughts realizing how strongly my senses have sharpened since the moments of the past day one we adventured ourselves on this path.


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We took a short walk to the near by airstrip adorned with a huge directional wing and much empty spaces for Spirit to run and clown around with a stick as he always does on “The Oasis”. We are staying at a campground called “Stovepipe Wells”. Basic giant parking lot situation, not the most attractive landmark, but convenient and the price is right. The resort being across the street provides us with WI FI (slow…) within the lounge open 24 hours a day, a swimming pool and showers. It is safe as there is always a compromise when it comes to safety, trying to stay on high grounds as unfortunately for others who have had their tents swim away.



Another rider, Joe, has also been camping with us. He partially lives on the road and we spend a couple days chatting while he was not busy riding to town, only 100 miles away, to get us some fresh provisions always very welcomed. With the full moon coming up, fresh produce and some fresh fish it was only proper for me to cook one of my one pan dishes which did not last long through the night while at the same time photographing the moon and the ongoing fire, courtesy of a camper that I had left us his wood when moving on. 


A falling Star… “Old Faithful” and the glow of a full Moon! photo courtesy of Joe

Today is a day to catch up, try to reply the many incoming e mails, many I am so far behind replying. Yesterday was a hike to the “Dunes”. Again, no dogs allowed… no comments on my part as I have already said my peace on that subject in the past. The “Dunes” are magical. Magical when I can rest on the sand and feel the past knowing that not too long ago it was the bottom of a vast Ocean with it’s own Life, colors and a structure so different than today. It is such a pleasant hike, missing Spirit’s company of course, undulations of the Earth I stepped on made out of only those billions of particles of sand. I always compare us to a spec of sand in this Universe of ours, and here I was amongst them all, all so free, all free form in waves so delicately sculptured by Mother Nature, again so generous to us.



A few clouds appeared, thankfully always giving a bit of added sculpture to the skies, the air was cool and the hike on the sand stressing those muscles not so used to the surface.




What can one think of when in Death Valley? And is it only Death Valley or the span of this Journey I am on? It has been my therapy throughout these past times, emerging finally, not as most would want “a winner”, as there is no winning or loosing, but balanced on a scale that is only now oscillating without the past tremors of darker past recent years. Maybe not think at all. Just let it be. Feel it, see it and smell it, sense it. I have reached such higher steps in these recent times so unknown of their healing powers. I struggled reaching them, trying to embrace it all but only so often only hugging the emptiness that surrounded me. And yet, constant I feel, still as a weight following me with it’s presence, the fear of loosing that bright light and that color “white” lingers at times penetrating my days as an unwelcomed guest.



Going up these steps, reaching a summit, even if being present amongst higher ones, loosing a step to regain a few is and has been always a forward motion, a battle within myself, a battle expressed within these words that have always bounced back to me with a certain self comprehension. Today, as the process has slowed down, as all has become filled with more strength and I stand more planted than ever on these grounds always welcoming us, slipping backwards is an option that has become inconceivable, a notion where much pain could not again be handled in the times to come. It was there at one time, I cannot fathom it being here again, neither would I have the strength to start again that ascent of these times past.



One never wants to loose the little slice of the pie which has been served and nurtured in our time. The cards dealt sometimes eat up a filling that has taken a Lifetime to prepare and the show of it all remains a crust we can barely touch of our fear to also crumble. Life is starting to look and feel, not as the old slice that was served so many years ago, but as a new slice still taking shape throughout this Journey of ours, as the “Dunes” that move on with their misplaced peaks from the strength of the winds and the rains, I have also moved on, now on a peak I try hard to keep up high throughout these trying times. I never forget the bad cards, one cannot. The deck is ahead and I so cautiously turn its contents, peeking, thinking, avoiding the guessing, keeping always in mind it’s consequences.

Till next time…


Twenty eight months of Photography is finally in order on SmugMug… In “Your Favorites”, in “States”, some labeled “first year” and second year”, now also “Texas the third year”. Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun.

Merchandise is also available through SmugMug. If you like to order a print all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload on the Gallery.

Help us keep the site alive. Please contribute… The logistics of it have become costly. It is an open book, its pages for the taking with always the hope that you will support their presence.

Be well…

Ara & Spirit

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4 Responses to “Death Valley, Sea level 0, CA”

  1. James NomadRip Says:

    (We are staying at a campground called “Stovewell Pipe”.) Isn’t it called Stovepipe Wells? I was only 13 when I last played on those beautiful dunes, and that was “a while ago”, so I could be wrong 🙂

  2. Kristi Says:

    These are the best photos I’ve seen you post in several weeks. It’s incredible how you always come up with a view others miss. But of course, how could someone see things through your own eyes? Photographically and spiritually, thanks for showing them to us.

  3. MsBelinda Says:

    Beautiful pictures Ara. Enjoy your stay.

  4. Angela Says:

    These pictures are amazing! Thank you for sharing!

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