We Got Rained on in Death Valley

In the beginning part of January, my [then] girlfriend and I¬†decided¬†that we would drive out to Death Valley for a while to go camping and hiking. You might know of Death Valley National Park as the hottest place on Earth (134 F), the lowest place in North America (282 feet below Sea Level), and the driest place in North America (average annual rainfall 2″). In the winter though the park has nice weather. It isn’t all just valley floor, salt flats, and mysterious moving rocks either.

Death Valley Floor

The valley floor is extremely dry.

Death Valley is the largest National Park in the lower 48 States with 3.4 million acres. It¬†encompasses¬†a variety of landscapes the most popular of which is the most radical one, the valley floor. This is where all the crazy¬†barren¬†pictures you see are taken [and where select scenes from the orginal Star Wars where filmed]. This is where the the hottest¬†temperature¬†was recorded. Oh, and in the summer this is where crazy people run a marathon! But the park also boasts mountain ranges, old mines, a mansion called Scotty’s Castle, sand dunes, slot canyons, and even an underwater cave.

Devil's Golf Course Death Valley

Devil’s Golf Course

We camped at Texas Spring Campground which is in the middle of the of the roads on the East Side of the park making most of the trails more¬†accessible¬†whether we went North or South. It blew my mind how big the park was. Just driving from one trailhead to the next took us way more time than we anticipated because this place is¬†unfathomably¬†huge. The campground was nice it had running water which is great and flush toilets if you are into that sort of thing. There are however other campgrounds in the park that offer the same¬†amenities¬†but offer free camping. If you are on a budget check out Emigrant Campground for one. Here is the link for the National Park’s Campground.
Because we were relaxing in the morning, making good breakfasts, and enjoying ourselves; and due to the vastness of the park causing longer than expected travel times to get to trailheads we didn’t complete as many hikes as we¬†originally¬†wanted. On Ted’s (ex-girlfriend’s brother) last day in the park we got rained on. It was surreal to be in the the driest place in North America in the rain. Here are some pictures from the hikes that we did do.
road to Death Valley Trail

A long road out of the desert into the foothills. This is where we left the truck.

Slot Canyon in Death Valley

Off the beaten path, we had the entire canyon to ourselves

Natural Bridge hike in Death Valley

Up on top of the Natural Bridge

Hiker in Death Valley

Enjoying the View

Just this month Death Valley NP started a campaign to get people to come out and hike the park. If you complete a variety of different hikes with different points associated with them and get a total of four or more points you can get an exclusive “Hike Death Valley National Park 2015” Sticker. Luckily, I learned about this before we¬†went. We didn’t actually do enough hikes on the list, but we did complete plenty of hikes and the rangers knew we knew enough about the¬†technical¬†aspects of getting over¬†dry falls¬†we weren’t¬†lying. Most the hikes we did were not on the map the park service gives you.
Death Valley has some amazing hikes but if you would rather just drive through the park there are some really unique side roads and dirt roads that can take you way out and give you that I’m in the middle of nowhere feeling. I was happy my Ted brought his truck out but when he had to leave for school I was still able to get my ’98 Lumina way out there! I did have to get out a few times and level out the gravel and move some larger rocks. Some of the more popular drives you can take in a car without getting out to move rocks include Dante’s View, Twenty Mule Team Road, and Artist Drive (all of which were featured in Star Wars).
Road to Dante's View

The road up to Dante’s View on a cloudy day.

Hole In The Wall Death Valley

Road In Death Valley

My car out in nowhere up in the mountains of Death Valley

Rusty Car in Death Valley

Someone else left there car parked out there too

Death Valley has a vast collection of cultural history they protect. There are mines left from old gold prospectors and ghost towns. We didn’t make it to Panamint City but the Rangers recommended it for people who are interested in history.

Aguereberry Camp Death Valley

Birdseye of Aguereberry Camp

Aguereberry's House Death Valley

Aguereberry’s House

Aguereberry Camp

 

Eureka Mine Death Valley

Abandon Railway into Eureka Mine

This was my first adventure to Death Valley National Park. I am so happy that I was able to go with my girlfriend (and her brother for a few days). We had a great time out there. The thing I think we all agreed upon that was the greatest thing about it was the lack of people, the lack of crowds that most National Parks bring. What blew me away the most about Death Valley NP was the vast openness that is the park. You fell so small out there. The roads are long and take quite awhile to get from one place to another, but the scenery is extreme. As the sun’s position in the sky changes so do the colors on the rocks. One mountain at sunrise was not the same mountain at sunset. Artist Point Drive is best lite up in the afternoon. I can’t wait to go back to Death Valley.

In the summer I want to explore the West Side of the park, the mountains. The Rangers explained to us that during the summer the temperature is actually quite nice at the high elevation compared to the valley floor. There are campgrounds up there and I look forward to hiking up to the top of Death Valley’s highest point; Telescope Peak.


 

 

Below are some resources to help you learn more about Death Valley National Park:

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Goals For 2015

I meant to get this up on the Internet a long time ago but I was busy then I went camping. Anyways here it is!
It’s 2015! Happy New Year everybody. New year new resolutions. By the time I got around to posting this January is already half over. But nonetheless, I’ve got a few goals for this year one is already lined up, a for sure thing, and ready to be completed. My New Years Resolutions are:
  1. Get Out of the United States
    This is my goal that is already lined up and ready to go. Spring semester 2015 will be in Taipei, Taiwan. I was able to set up an entire semester abroad at no cost. In fact, with all my scholarships, grants, financial aid, and exchange rates I will probably be making money by going abroad.
    I’ve already got my plane ticket and my VISA to The Republic of China, Taiwan! I will be there in mid-February.¬†Nervous¬†and excited.
  2. Make More Friends
    I am hoping that this one and the first one will kind of go together. I am hoping that I can expand my social circle and make some new friends. It’s crazy how over the years friends come and go. Right now I have some really great friends, honestly the best. However, I think it would always benefit everyone to have more.¬†It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
  3. Learn AdWords
    My last goal is to learn how to use Google AdWords but also learn other Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising sites like Bing and Yahoo. This resolution is part of a larger life goal to somehow create a location independent job. PPC just is a small part of that that I think I can focus on while studying abroad.
  4. Constantly Update This Blog
    I started this blog to keep track of my travels and my goals. I want to share with people who are interested where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. I am hoping that 2015 will be a big year for all these things and this blog is the place I share I’ll my adventures.
The reason that I am sharing my resolutions is to hold myself accountable to myself (and anyone who may be reading this). At the end of the year we will see where I am!

Looking Back on 2014

At the time of writing, 2014 is over on most of the Earth already, but not on the West Coast of North America. I am still in 2014 reflecting on everything that happened this year. I have to say, 2014 was actually a pretty big year for me. A lot of transformation took place. While it was happening it didn’t seem like much but looking back it was huge. Where do I even start.

I finally finished at community college. Two Associates Degrees and a too many years later and I am done! I was held up by a budget cuts cutting a required course for my degree to every other semester. I was pretty upset about it at the time. Looking back it worked out not so bad. That was the¬†semester¬†that I started all the business courses to transfer. I was able to power through all the required business classes in a year. 2014 was the year that I transferred to San Diego State University’s College of Business Administration. That wasn’t the only transfer I made in 2014 though.
Years of not having a enough money to afford rent in San Diego kept my girlfriend and I at our parents house. This year we rented a room together with some good friends of mine from community college. It’s been working out pretty well. I’m glad we finally did it. There are rabbits, chickens, cats (including the most adorable little kitten), and a dog.
Screech and Lagunitas

This my friend Screech. He drinks too much.

Transferring¬†to, what I consider a “real” college has required some changes to. I had to quit my job at the golf course in order to focus on studying. There was just no way I could wake up to go to work at 4 a.m. after going to bed at 2. I thought this would allow to me spend more time getting involved with campus organizations.¬†Regrettably, it did not as my actual class schedule got in the way of that.
One group I was able to get involved in was Toast Masters. If you don’t know what Toaster Masters is an organization that is all over the world that helps people become better public speakers. I finished the program and¬†received¬†a Certificate. But, the Toaster Masters program is not something you start and finish. It’s something you continue because in order to be good at¬†public¬†speaking you need to constantly be practicing. I plan on¬†continuing¬†to be active in Toast Masters moving forward.
There is something else too that I would like to mention that had some amount of importance to me. I read The Four Hour Work Week. This changed the way I think about a lot of things. There were lots of things I never would have thought I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to travel and travel extensively but I was not sure how people were paying for it. The Four Hour Work Week  showed me that it was possible. That book inspired me an I opened up my first online business retail store. More about that in a later post.
Maybe I had a great year because I was born in the year of the horse and 2014 was the horse. Maybe I had a great year because because the digits of my birthday and year add to twenty three, the age I was for most of 2014 (Numerology). Or maybe I just kicked ass this year, because I don’t really believe in that stuff. Regardless I have plans to make 2015 even better! Stay tuned.
Happy New Year Everyone! Make it a great one!

2014 Travels

My girlfriend and I went on a road trip to Utah to visit Zion National Park for hiking. The first night we planned to camp outside the park. It was supposed yo be in the low 20s before wind chill. We figured with our new air mattress, mummy bags, and a nice fire, we could stay warm. But, the desert had other plans for us. The camp hosts sold us wet wood and no matter what we tried we could not get them to light and I was running out of small sticks. I freaking covered a few pieces in lighter fluid, nothing. ¬†The air mattress we had just gotten didn’t hold air, even with people not on it. It was a very cold night. The desert had defeated us. Luckily, my girlfriend’s Aunt and Uncle live in St. George, Utah and were extremely pleasant hosts.
 Entering Zion WildernessStaircase in Zion National Park Hidden Trail Trailhead Zion National Park
Big Horn Sheep in Zion National Park

Big Horn Sheep in Zion National Park

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Up on an arch on Hidden Trail in Zion National Park

My only regret is letting the desert defeat me. I plan to one day go back with the skills to survive a night like that. I honestly feel like I could have been more comfortable if I had tried a few other things. Oh well, life goes on.
We also went to Grand Escalante National Monument and hiked inside Buck Skin Gulch an 11.5 mile slot canyon.
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Here is the entrance to the Bulk Skin Gulch

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The entire hike the canyon would open wide and then narrow down

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I am standing 15′ above the floor and the wall continues to tower above

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Inside Buck Skin Gulch

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One the way back home we stopped in Las Vegas!
Las Vegas
I don’t care too much for gambling. We just walked the stripped went into every casino on the strip to see the sights and free shows. One can get free drinks by sitting down at a slot machine when you a hostess. Always order a double! Chances are they are going to give you a weak drink because it is FREE so order a double! If you are playing tip well on that first drink so the hostess keeps coming back.
At twelve in the morning we were walking back to out room but stop to sit at slot just to rest. It had some money in it still so I played it. Lost it, but there was still some money, not enough to play this machine, but another machine. I cashed out and took it to a cheaper machine. I wasn’t winning or losing just breaking even. We started to take turns walking around to other machines. It was really late and it seemed like people were just living money. We cashed a lot of machines with 23 to 68 cents on them. One had a dollar and change and the cream of the crop had eight bucks. But we kept feeding them all into the same machine and ordering free drinks. We played a few hours got a ton of drinks and left with twenty bucks. All for FREE ūüôā
I had a lot of other things going on so couldn’t travel much. But, one other exciting thing we did was go to our first massive drum and bass event. We got to experience a two hour Andy C set, it was amazing!
Andy C
Thanks for reading!