Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Ridgecrest area

What a day, what a day... Wednesday I photographed a beautiful sunrise, visited the lowest point in the western hemisphere (Badwater Basin), photographed a beautiful sunset, saw the highest mountain in the lower 48 states (Mt Whitney)... oh, and I was used as target practice by the US Navy. But more about that later.

I got up bright and early and actually left the friggin motel at 7am. After stocking up on essentials (water, gatorade and two packets of chips if you must know) I drove out of Ridgecrest towards Death Valley. Ridgecrest is a small city in US terms, and even though sources like Wikipedia claim it has more amenites than most cities of its size, due to being home to a military base, I've already declared it Hicksville. Wanna know just how hick it is? The last two nights I've been the only one in the movie theatre. That's hick.

Anyway, I drove outta town around a quarter past seven, and the sun was just coming up behind one of the eastern hills (Ridgecrest is surrounded by mountain ranges on four sides). I pulled over and started snapping shots, and they turned out pretty damn good. Thirty seconds after getting in the car again, two coyotes ran across the road less than fifty feet from me. I was definitely starting to warm to both Ridgecrest and the surrounding area.

I took the slow road into Death Valley, including some roads that were barely paved; the asphalt was a thin one-lane stretch for much of the way. On the other hand I had the landscape pretty much to myself. I saw a car coming in the opposite direction maybe once every ten minutes on average. NO cars passed me and I passed none. That's how quiet and serene it was.

I passed through narrow valleys and over huge plains, I saw tall mountains and low basins. I drove along salty marshes and dry brushland. I saw dustdevils and chipmunks, lava stones and layered rocks. And that was before I even made it to Death Valley proper. So here are the pics from before I reached Stovepipe Wells, which is the beginning of the "real" Death Valley, and was the first place where I dipped below sea level. The pics from Death Valley and the Mount Whitney area will come in separate installments later.

All pics from Ridgecrest & the road between it and Death Valley here.

The first pic I took, just as the sun was coming over the horizon.

A little further...

And this was the last one in color from this sequence.

I got in a couple of B & W too.

The absolutely last of the sequence.

The sunrise was coloring the surrounding hills and skies pinkish.

Much later - dustclouds blowing across the high desert plains. The wind shook the car several times, causing me to grab the wheel with both hands and whimper.

Even in November, the desert still has colors.

Multicolored layers of rock. It was only when I got back that I noticed the face in one of the rocks. Can you see it?

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