Julie got Lasik surgery! Actually, it was PRK, a custom job, which gives you better vision (better than 20/20, apparently!) but takes longer to heal post-op. The Doctor said that it was very important to keep her eyes really moist for at least a month in order to heal faster. So two weeks after surgery, we celebrated by going to the hottest, driest spot in North America! When I took the below shot, 116 °F was the highest temp we'd come across yet, but we later saw it get up to 122 °F. Sort of reminded me of the good 'ol days in Iraq.
I had my 20th-ish trip to Ridgecrest, CA for work last week, and I can honestly say that I have not gotten tired of the 5 hour drive from Las Vegas through Death Valley. We'd made the decision to have Julie come with me before the surgery, thinking that it would be a great visual feast for new eyes.
And it was! That's Badwater Basin, lowest point of land in North America and Julie's first glimpse of the beauty of Death Valley. Oh sure, her eyes were red, swollen, blurry, and she had to keep a constant flow of eyedrops dropping to battle the heat and dryness that made the clothes you were wearing contantly feel like they'd just come out of the dryer 2 seconds ago, but to the best of my abilitity to discern the quality of her sincerity, she wholly believes it was worth the discomfort!
Zabriske Point. It was nice to have Julie along for several reasons, but one of them was that it's been a long time since I stopped to inhale the moistureless dust, other than the occasional surprise visit with desert puppy... I've gotten more into HDR photography since then, and so it was nice to sort of re-tour Death Valley with her new eyes and some new camera techniques. We spent the night at the swanky Furnace Creek Inn near here thanks to a room upgrade.
More Zabriske Point. According to Wikipedia, the philosopher Michel Foucault called his 1975 acid trip at Zabriskie Point the greatest experience of his life. I can see why, it's really a great spot. Another favorite is the Artist's Pallet drive.
It's about a three mile one-way loop drive which starts up there, and drives through those technicolored hills. The best time to hit it is during sunset, and we were a little early so we did the loop twice, which turned out to be perfect.
Road boobs! And I remember futilely attempting to capture the way the scrub lights up like little fires in the sunset the first time I was here a few years back, and I feel like this picture captures that a little bit. So yay!
Death Valley is just huge, and monothematic, and at the same time every bit of it has its own unique perspective to offer. I felt like this picture sort of got that idea. Maybe. Anyway I like it. You can click on it to make it bigger, maybe that will help.
The eponymous Artist's Pallete. I posted this one with the tiny little French family in it to help with perspective. There were a lot of Europeans bumping around the valley. In fact, I heard only one or two Americans speaking the whole time we were there. Makes sense though: Europeans are horny for the US National Park system. It's the main reason that many of them visit our country. We go there for castles, history, sexy accents and beer. They come here for the amazing landscapes, New York City, sexy accents, and... um. Definitely not the beer, anyway.
And that's sunset in Death Valley folks! Anyway, I have more stuff to post about the trip but this post is long enough and that's a good place to stop for now. Here's my parting shot of Julie and I in sepia at Zabriskie Point overlook, eyedrops in tow.