Trip to Death Valley

So, I’m gliding carefree down a 9% incline, on my way out of Death Valley.  A HUGE motorhome is climbing the other lane.  I see a woman in the rider seat waving her arms.  And I wave back in greeting.  Everyone is so nice in Death Valley……

A few minutes later I smell brakes and wonder — there were a couple of vehicles climbing the hill — would any of these be having brake trouble?

A few more sniffs, and I decide to  find a  pull over spot.  Then I see it — the white smoke rising from MY front wheels.  “Well, SHEEEEIT!” says Oola.  “You just had the maintenance done on Mom’s Memorial Prius.  What’s this!?”

It takes a minute but I find out how to open the hood only to watch the smoke rising from the inside.  Realizing we are going to be here for a while, I give thanks for the coolish winter air.

A truck arrives from uphill and angel-man asks if I’m being helped.  I explain that I’m waiting for the brakes to cool;  he thinks a second, nods, and turns back to Death Valley. Maybe the waving arm woman had told him there was a car on fire on the other side of the hill.

No cell phone connection, no internet to locate a Toyota dealer.  I hope it will be ok to finish the next few downhill miles, tiptoe into Bridgeport, and maybe find someone to check things out.

Meanwhile, I can sit in the shade of the car and write you about some of the beauty I’ve seen in the past couple of days. Not many stars to gaze at (more than Oakland, but no Milky Way to stir the soul) — just a Big, Fat, Cheery moon all night.

Moon Rise over Furnace Creek

Waiting and writing these notes, I am suddenly made aware of  a Navy jet roaring North and low in the Searles Valley below me.  It makes a 180 and roars back, the sound building and radiating between the mountain walls.

Then, on the ridge above, 2 ravens glide silently, possibly looking for lunch.

I need to know more about ravens.  They seem to have a bad rap.

Here is a picture of a couple who ignored me and the camera outside Mosaic Canyon yesterday.  Fearless of close-by humans, the groomed each other, it would seem, affectionately.  (Here I dope-slap my brain to stop the anthropomorphism.)

Raven couple
Raven couple

It was hard to get a good double-profile shot because when one’s head was down, the other was up checking the environs.

Now it is an hour later, and the front left wheel is still a little warm, so I’ll keep writing about the ravens.

At the end of my Mosaic Canyon hike yesterday, I noticed one of the black-feathered pair soar above the ravine.

Raven soaring over Mosaic Canyon
Raven soaring over Mosaic Canyon

The duo carried on a communication that sounded like — “Where are you?” — “Over here”.  A few minutes later, the non-soaring partner marched among the parked cars, searching, with a plaintive “Where are you? Where are you?”.  (No Verizon in Death Valley!)

I’m still trying  to refrain from anthropomorphism, but maybe I should start thinking about avianpomorphism.

I’m thinking that maybe the brakes are cool enough now.  Time to take the plunge — uh, bad word choice.

Descent to Searles Valley
Descent to Searles Valley

More later….I hope.

By jandove



  1. Hope that “Mom’s memorial Prius” will be alright. I always love when you go to Death Valley. I can remember way back, in Morro Bay days, when you wrote the most beautiful poetry from there.


  2. Well…………………how long are you going to hold me in suspense at the edge of my chair?

    Will…”Everyone is so nice in Death Valley……,” be your last great line?

    Your, hopefully not ex-friend…



    1. There is much more, of course. But how to frame it!. I could write about “beauty” but no one would read it. Nor should they.
      Meanwhile preparations for the upcoming semester loom large and menacing. Will get back to it as soon as I can.
      PS. Mom’s Memorial and Oola and I are ok.


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