I have had no plan to travel to Vegas in the first place. Plans changed when I found out that travelling into Yosemite would not be possible due to the snow. An alternative: Nevada and Vegas of course, and the Death Valley National Park!
The ride is long, getting out of L.A. takes time and the traffic is dense and aggressive, although it is already pretty late. I really wonder who is that masochistic to get to work everyday like that, like riding two or more hours in and out every day. That would be nothing for me to enjoy. As soon as I hit I-15 traffic vanishes and I am basically alone along the broad highway. It’s totally dark outside, the stars and the moon are the only lighting and I can guess the shadows of the mountains I surpass on both sides. At around 1 a.m. I finally arrive in Vegas and Ivanna, my host, is already waiting. She is very nice and gives me some instructions for the next day, how to find a proper way along the Death Valley and some more sights around Las Vegas. I have to sleep immediately, since I want to get up early.
At 9 a.m. I am on my way out of Summerlin towards the mountains. You hit a little State Park first, the Red Rock Mountain State Park. It’s beautiful but I decide not to stop and to continue to the Death Valley.
Two hours later I finally arrive at the Death Valley Junction. By that time you are back to California, since the whole National Park is stretched out over California and Nevada, but the biggest part with all the sights is in California. The time of the year seems to be perfect, lots of flowers are in blossom, the pale green leaves of bushes and small trees come out everywhere and it’s not too hot, I would estimate the temperature as 30 °C.
The whole driving experience is stunning, just driving along this nature, this wilderness which seems endless, I have never seen something like that and am totally overwhelmed by the beauty of this wild country.
The deeper I get into the park the more beautiful it becomes. There is simply nobody around and you are all alone. The best place to spend time with the people you love, all alone with you and nature. The first time of the trip I miss some company to share all of those moving impressions!
On the way some coyotes are begging for food. They seem to be used to people coming by feeding them, but I don’t contribute to that manners, I want them to remain wild. They are truly free of fear, standing right besides the car like that. The mountains of the Sierra Nevada are still covered in snow, what an awesome image! Down in the valley temperatures reach around 35 °C now and the air is flirring in the distance, on top of the mountains you have the snow in contrast. Crazy!
I reach the Badwater Bassin at 2 p.m. and the sun is burning down with no mercy. As soon as I get out of the car sweat starts running down my neck. I am on the lowest point of the USA now, it’s way under sea level and known for the reflections of the sun on this salty ground. A beautiful, yet deadly place if it comes up to life.
The next spot I reach is the Devil’s Golf Course a place where huge crystals of salt grew naturally over the last hundreds of years to form a bizarre landscape. Impressive and you can walk around on them, they stand it! Every time it rains, the surface restructures and new crystal structures arise.
I get out of the car to hike a little bit but the temperatures are too high to enjoy that and it’s already 3 p.m., time to get back to Las Vegas! On my way I see so much artful splendid beauty of nature, just out of the car. That’s America – that’s awesome!
I return to Nevada and reach a small town called Beatty right after the boarder. This is the prototype of an American city in the wild west. There is basically nothing, a small gas station and a small shop where you probably can get everything needed. No Mc Donalds, no other franchise you would recognize as American. Some little sand tornadoes curl along the street and all the trees are bald.
I back on the track to Las Vegas, don’t want to be too late because Ivanna’s mum is there, visiting from Russia and there will be dinner the evening. But on my way I discover mountains, pretty close to Vegas, which are fully covered in snow. And I decide to take another way to discover more of that! There actually seems to be a skiing resort called Mt Charleston and the further I get into these steep mountains the more I can imagine that!
The sun already set in the West and with this pale violet and red colors all over the desert I make my way home to Summerlin, after a great day out in the fields, in an environment, that offers so many life although the conditions for plants and creatures are everything but easy.