Freeways to Death Valley…

Friday, February 6th, 2009


These monster pathways, high speed ribbons to the four corners of this country only remind me of this hardcore traveling so many embrace. They are needed, yes, we ourselves are on them right now by choice to get to a destination within a certain amount of time only because a of needed return to “The Oasis” sometime in a few weeks. These roads we are on were at one time only dust and dirt as the land we just left. Silence prevailed, wildlife lived at their best, and now the smell of burnt oil and blown up rubber from too fast tires have blanketed my senses. Generic exits… I keep my eyes open and yet never know where we are, only guided by those gigantic green signs one does not want to miss as returning back onto the proper path demands miles and miles of more cement topped freeway.


Laundromat, Ice Parlor and Coffee Shop in Marfa…

No shoulders here to turn around or chat with anyone as used to. Some fuel pumps are blue, some are red or yellow. The vehicles are lined up breathing each other’s fumes, do we look for the better price or better quality? Is there such a thing? The drivers have their masks on, maybe afraid to smile as if recognized by some kindness throughout this exodus toward the many destinations the big signs profess. The dogs and the cats are smelling the man made fields saturated by too many of them lingering on the disposal of their natural needs. I wonder what Spirit always think as suddenly from only his own presence on “The Oasis” this must be downtown for him as his senses are suddenly overcharged as too much voltage.



Passengers get off, their bodies in need of stretching from too much junk food, the staple of this fast track, maybe today too much video watching from the monitors I see hanging on the back rests as no one truly reads anymore, visual images being so much easier on the mind, a mind that might be loosing it’s own throughout the depth of it all. Once in a while the rig shakes and vibrates as if a jolt from deep within suddenly has shaken the Earth even through my ear plugs. It is only a boombox passing by trying to alienate themselves over already much decibels present.


A Mother’s Love…

Everyone is busy, time is the element, their interest rates have been too low and the freeway provides the dividends missing these days from the weeks worked with no end in sight. All is necessary, time of the horses and buggies are long gone as my own rig itself lately has acquired a throaty exhaust sound from it’s passing years. We have kept rolling at an average of 300 miles a day and wondering if I can endure 4 days of this! I try to keep myself amused but cannot find anything that will pass the time unless from right to left the landscape suddenly becomes attractive enough through the vision of guard rails and electric power lines.


Am I hinting that I don’t like freeways? I would have not guessed so. We got a bit lucky however as we made it to north of El Paso with very little of it. We stopped in Marfa to meet “Mercer” for the first time. She is responsible for using my photos in the upcoming “Big Bend and Texas Mountain 2009 Travel Guide”. Daniel and his wife who own the “Tumbleweed”, local hang out where you can surf the Internet, have Ice Cream and top it with some coffee while your Laundry is being washed, are always also nice to visit and meet some of the other locals. Mercer and I are talking about a “Coffee Table Book”, maybe around 40 photos and readers comments preceded by a synopsis of our Journey maybe written by Spirit if I can talk him into it!



It set us back a bit in time, always so slow to move on as if I don’t push ourselves I think I would barely cover 100 miles a day if that much. North of Van Horn, #54 and #180 are the two roads that enabled us to miss much freeway. Beautiful roads and deserted, at the same time as approaching El Paso, showing signs of past wealth, today with only many ruins of buildings left. The freeway has it’s habit of destroying everything around it’s path. We came across only one car on #54… thousands most likely on I-10.



We did not stop in any one area specifically for photos. They were many shoulders I would have liked to, again the time constrain just to get to Death Valley, or more as not wanting to ride too late into the day kept us somehow moving. It was interesting playing with the camera when we “had” to stop, trying to make something out of nothing, a memory that we had stopped there.



There is always much thinking going on while riding, specially the roads not requiring the same attention as mountain or twisted ones. For the first time I listened to music while riding. I had tried it back in the Georgia Mountains and had almost crashed no following the curve but as I remember the tempo of the beat. I enjoyed it immensely. Old Cd’s I have been carrying with me for eternity, some music even way back from when I lived in Europe and the experience of memory lane making it’s presence associated with past spaces was of a good one. I will continue this path of entertainment on these easy roads to travel, it makes the miles go by a bit faster and more pleasant for sure.



A study on doors? More being “passage ways” as when in this old building I noticed them all lined up, different structures, some framed, some torn and from one to the other I walked taking a photo of them all as the many “passage ways” that has marked my own Life. The last one seemed to be the one leading to Death Valley. I feel as  a pull is drawing us there, I don’t know it’s reason yet, I can only feel that there is much beauty awaiting us, much landscape unlike others we have experienced. We should be there by Monday or so…

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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9 Responses to “Freeways to Death Valley…”

  1. Louise Says:

    Looks like we missed you by one day. We spent the night of Wednesday, February 4th, at a picnic area along Hwy 180, just west of Salt Flat. We must have been gone by the time you passed through there.

    We usually go to the Airheads Rally in Death Valley, too, to meet BMW friends there each year. But this year, the friends are riding in Baja and we are going to a wedding in Hawaii. So! We will miss you. Maybe next year?

    Perhaps after you leave Death Valley and head back to the Oasis, our paths will cross. We will be in Phoenix February 18th, 19th, perhaps a bit longer. Phoenix is a terrible place to be on two (or three or even eight, like us) wheels and we would be glad to meet you outside of the big city!

  2. gina Says:

    That’s my baby girl Olive and her sitter/best friend, Karen. A great capture!

  3. Picinisco Says:

    Love the doors. Doors to the future. Doors from the past. Definately a passage from here to there.

  4. James NomadRip Says:

    I pointed Daniel to this post once again. I have more than one reason to travel out that way now. I need to see both of your places. And I’ve been following your neighbor at the Field Lab, too 🙂

    Enjoy Death Valley!

  5. GypsyRR Says:

    Nice sun star again, Ara. I’m enjoying your travels and tracking you with SPOT. Enjoy your time in Death Valley. ( btw, Tommy says “hi” to Spirit. 🙂

  6. Berge Says:

    Where did you learn to take pictures like this?
    Totally amazing shots.
    Great work. Truly enjoyed your post
    God Bless

  7. Zelda Says:

    Hi again Ara & Spirit!
    I’m still enjoying your travelogue through your pictures and musings and still trying to understand why. First, my imagination takes over after looking at your map and route. There are always pictures of local people you encounter going about their daily lives. Always there is a picture of food, “our daily bread” (and if we’re lucky, it’s ice cream). I suppose some of the grapefruit or lemons or other fruit we just ate came from the orchard in your picture. The old buildings only appear to be abandoned. The pictures, at first silent, come alive with the sounds of voices past of builders, herders and animals. Perhaps it’s the irony of what on first inspection appears to be silent and dead, on closer inspection, is alive with life and voices. Ride safely and take good care of your bodies as well as your Spirits.

  8. JayElDee Says:

    Stay safe, Ara

    Is this your “geometry shoot?” Lots of circles and rectangles. Favorite is the ice cream buckets.


  9. Steve Williams Says:

    Hello Ara,

    During the dead of winter here in Pennsylvania it’s hard to look at at the fine weather you are enjoying. I’ve about had it with winter. So bad this year I had to break down and buy a battery tender.

    Your pictures as always are fantastic and stir the imagination for travel. Ride well and give Spirit a pat on the head for me.

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

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