Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Road Trip day 22: Death Valley

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After three weeks of driving we had finally reached the fabled state of California. We stopped at the state line to fire off our remaining Chinese firecracker-tanks and take a whizz, the photos of which I will spare you from. As for the tanks, it should perhaps not come as a great surprise to anyone that one of the three misfired and self-immolated. With this out of the way, we headed for our first stop in the Golden State: Death Valley National Park.

Once again, I was astounded by the degree of variety in the national parks of America. Even though this was our third rocks-and-desert park, it was entirely unlike White Sands or the Grand Canyon. The initial views of the place were craggy scenes of lifeless volcanic rock, beheld in blistering heat and complete solitude.

These are bad lands

A bit of driving took us past these badlands and into the equally lifeless valley proper. Honestly, I’ve never been anywhere that was so clearly a valley between two mountain ridges; I kept getting images of the Valley of Kings in Egypt, images that in light of my previous statement were obviously completely fabricated. Impressive, in any case.

The Valley of Death

The most notorious features of this barren place are the salt flats. Found wherever large bodies of water are allowed to evaporate, the minerals left behind form expansive ‘lakes’ of salt. A very strange sight indeed, you have to constantly remind yourself that you aren’t walking through a snowscape. The patterns formed can be quite interesting, but the real draw is the knowledge that as far as the eye can see the ground is coated in a fell bit beautiful product of millennia worth of natural events. Not entirely ineffectual at conjuring biblical images.

The Lord cometh...

And if you thought the salt flats were an evangelical font, check out this Jacob’s ladder:

...and shineth His light upon thee.


Written by Martin

2011/01/15 at 18:23

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. […] a comment » Having passed through the Valley of Death, the next and final stop was our pro forma destination, Los Angeles. My very first impression there […]

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