Category Archives: California

A Well Deserved Rest Stop

Rest Stop, Death Valley, California

Our journey to Death Valley began with a slight disaster. Having spent two days relaxing in Las Vegas we returned to our hire car ready to continue on into the desert. We were keen to get going as we had a packed schedule that would see us reach Lone Pine on the other side of Death Valley just before sun down. Having risen fairly early we were ready to hit the road. Unfortunately we were going nowhere fast. We were stuck in a Las Vegas car park with two large suitcases and one hire car with a dead battery.

Eventually, one repair truck and two hours later we made it to Las Vegas airport to pick up a second car. Our journey to the desert could finally begin! This shot was taken at the first rest stop we came upon after entering the national park. It was also our first opportunity to pay the park entrance fee, which was more luck than judgement.

There is obviously an implicit trust that people will pay the fee as the station was unmanned. I’m not sure there was anything stopping us driving onward to our first stop at Dante’s View without paying up. But we didn’t want to find out, so we persevered with the misbehaving ticket machine. After a few attempts it accepted one of our cards and we went on our merry way, the dead battery episode already a distant memory.

Have you ever had a mishap whilst travelling? Did it affect your plans? How did you deal with it? I’d love to hear from you!

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Caught Between Mountains On Route 395

395, California, USA

You would be forgiven for thinking that driving nearly 200 miles on one fairly straight road might be quite boring. Route 395 could be described as anything but. Occupying a valley carved through the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, there are stunning landscapes in every direction. It feels like you are always driving towards something spectacular.

Setting off from Lone Pine at 8am, we spent the next 11 hours taking in the highlights of Route 395 on our journey to South Lake Tahoe. Given our tight schedule we didn’t venture too far from the road laid out before us. I’m sure we could have easily spent a few more days exploring the mountains either side of the valley. Considering the wealth of natural beauty around us, we barely scratched the surface!

One thing that’s impossible to ignore whilst driving through this region of the US is the incredible diversity of the landscape. It’s hard to believe that this shot was taken less than 100 miles from the desolate plains of Death Valley. I’d love to know of any other locations where you can encounter the harsh reality of the desert, followed by the staggering beauty of snowy mountains no more than 2 hours apart. For anyone who enjoys landscape photography it really is a dream to explore.

Have you driven Route 395? Do you know of any other roads that give you that feeling of moving towards something incredible? Or maybe you know of a long, straight road that’s so boring I should try my best to avoid it in the future?! Please get in touch!

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Dwarfed By The Desert In Death Valley

Road, Death Valley, USA

Driving through the desert in Death Valley is one of my top travel experiences to date. The lonely, vast and desolate landscape serves only to teach us how insignificant our place in the world is. I know many people love beach destinations as a place to go and be still, to think and reflect. But I think the desert provides a more than viable alternative.

I really like this shot, to me it shows the epic scale of the desert alongside humanity’s attempt to explore and conquer its barren land. This winding road that leads to Dante’s View is dwarfed by the landscape, and rightly so. That is exactly how we felt driving through Death Valley, dwarfed.

You may also notice that it’s actually quite a good quality road, which was a pleasant surprise. We were expecting some trouble on this leg of our journey but we need not have worried, the roads through Death Valley were some of the smoothest we experienced during our two weeks in California!

Do you prefer to visit the desert or the beach for your sandy needs? What’s the best road you’ve ever driven? Please get in touch!

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View From The California 89

View From The 89, California, USA

One of many “wow” moments from our trip to the West Coast, this vista from the California 89 mountain pass really made us stop dead in our tracks. After a long but rewarding drive up the 395 from Death Valley, it was a great way to end the day’s travelling before reaching Lake Tahoe to watch the sunset. Fortunately there was a spot where we could pull over to appreciate the view.

I just couldn’t stop staring at the clouds. They looked like they had been lifted straight from a beautiful watercolour painting. I had to capture it! To this day I still don’t think I’ve seen clouds quite like them. As the evening sun cast a long shadow across the mountain we were climbing, the green valley below was bathed in sunlight. It was one of those moments where it felt like the elements had collaborated to present the landscape perfectly.

Have you ever seen some unusual clouds? Where were you at the time? Have you driven the California 89? Please get in touch!

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Feeling The Heat At Dante’s Viewpoint

Dante's View, Death Valley, California

Dante’s Viewpoint was our first stop on a day driving through the lowest and driest part of North America – Death Valley. Looking out over the salt flats of Badwater Basin we were really starting to feel the heat. Little did we know that when we reached the basin itself the temperature would rise to 117°F (47°C). That was certainly something we had never experienced before!

Unfortunately we had a fairly packed itinerary for the day, so didn’t spend as long as I would have liked at the viewpoint. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to capture its grandeur in a photograph, but I gave it my best shot. I found it difficult to make the compromise between getting some good foreground interest and keeping enough of the basin itself in shot. I need to return with a wider lens!

Have you been to Dante’s Viewpoint? Driven through Death Valley? What’s the highest temperature you’ve ever experienced? I’d love to hear from you!

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Five Great Reasons To Visit Bodie Ghost Town

Wheel, Bodie, California

Visiting the ghost town of Bodie was undoubtedly a highlight of our road trip around California. It was a unique experience full of surprises. Abandoned places are always intriguing to explore and Bodie is no exception. So apart from the fact that ghost towns are just really cool, why should you visit?

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie

Bed, Bodie Ghost Town, California

Since I’ve had a great response to my last shot of Bodie Ghost Town in California, I thought I’d use another for this week’s photo challenge. I’m sure this bed has an incredible story to tell, but it will be forever shrouded in mystery. It epitomises the eerie feel of the abandoned mining town which in 1879 was home to around 7,000 people. Not that you would believe that looking at it today!

Unfortunately most of the 2,000 buildings that originally made up the town are no longer present. But the 170 that do remain provide a fascinating window into an exciting period of American history.

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