After Monument Valley, we wanted to go West, back to Nevada, so as we drove we stopped a few times and we didn’t really know where we were going to sleep. Our usual method was to go to a McDonald’s to connect our wifi and find a place to spend the night. Because we always use offline Google Maps, I was able to spot a McDonald’s in a place that looked like a little village in the middle of a desert. As we drove on the road that led there, we started seeing signs that read “if you’re transporting nuclear or toxic waste, please go to the right” and all sorts of other weird warnings. We drove forward until we saw a toll and we decided to turn back.
After a few minutes driving we realised, after spotting some gas stations with alien drawings, that we were on the whereabouts of Area 51! Looking for it on google maps, instead of that yellow little person that you place on the street for street view, it actually appears a spaceship instead! We ended up staying in a town called Beatty, a place near Death Valley.
The next day was one of the most amazing days. We started it by visiting a ghost town named Rhyolite. It was created back in 1905 after some successful prospecting in the area, but short after as the main mining exploration declined so did all that was created to support that industry. Next to it, there’s Goldwell Open Air Museum, where the last supper is represented by some ghostlike human size figures, among other art installations. I was so impressed by how easy the land in these deserts is used for artistic purposes. I wish there were more places like this in the world. There’s also the mysterious grave of Mona Belle and all the land is dotted with warnings about the presence of rattlesnakes.
After Rhyolite we drove to Death Valley, California, and I guess that it was when my love for deserts had its apotheosis. Our lovely Nissan QASHQAI’s thermometer hit 50º Celsius (122º F), but what I felt, stepping out of the vehicle was perfect bliss!
It’s hard to describe how the hot air embraced me and how amazing I felt when it did. How the arid vastness filled my eyes and my heart with awe. That was also the second time I saw a coyote and the first time I saw a danger sign warning people about bees!
I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of the landscape and had an urge to dance inside its greatness.
I was also fascinated by the different parts of the valley. The land was always changing, from totally dry to rocky, until we found Owen’s lake, which is a huge salt flat with the most wonderful colours (due to the diversity of minerals found there), near Lone Pine. In some parts the water and salt had different shades of orange: from tangerine to coral, there were also pink, bright green and turquoise. In Lone Pine we were able to stare at the dramatic mountains, including the famous Alabama Hills, that served as set for hundreds of movies since the silent movies era.
It’s wonderful how in the same day we experienced extremely different landscapes, on our way to Yosemite National Park we were able to see mountains with snow and waterfalls.