Death Valley “Rocks”

A few weeks ago we took a friends trip to Death Valley. (Here’s a big shout out to Kevin, Ryan, Mallory, and Sam!) It surprises me how few people have heard of Death Valley and of those who have heard of it, how few of them desire to go there. It’s an amazing place people, if you get the chance to go there, take it! We left on a Friday afternoon and everything was going smoothly until we were headed down into Palmdale when a big rock flew up and hit the window of the Cube and broke it.

We pulled over to check out the damage and decided to keep going. The crack continued to spread throughout the trip and then (jumping ahead) on the way home, heading back through Palmdale again a rock flew up and hit the left side of the window and put a crack there too. If it wasn’t for the Sonic, I would recommend never going to Palmdale.

We made it to Lone Pine and had dinner at this weird Chinese restaurant but got the helpful hint to check out the “ghost town” of Darwin on our way into the valley. So the next morning we took off and went to the strangest place on earth. Darwin is a ghost town but 50 or so people live there who basically want nothing to do with society. There is a post office but no other services available.

There is no school, no police, and no children in Darwin. But there are plenty of mangy dogs, creepy lawn ornaments, and a sign with a spaceship that points to Yaws Gate.

After we left Darwin, we were welcomed to Death Valley and took the prerequisite picture:

I love the diversity of Death Valley. Our first stop was Mosaic Canyon where we hiked up through the marble rocks looking for big horn sheep and admiring the beauty of it. From there we went to the sand dunes where it felt like we had been dropped into the Sahara. We then went up to over 5,400 feet at Dante’s Point where we could look out over the entire valley and where the wind was blowing so hard I’m surprised none of us blew away. On the way back down we stopped at Zibreiski Point where the hills look like something out of a cartoon movie, and we finally ended up at the Devil’s Golf Course 200 feet below sea level.

We had an awesome time and it was great hanging out with friends. Way too many stories and hilarious moments than I could ever write about. I just wonder where we’ll go next?

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North, South, and some Missions in between

Since I was shifting into a new decade with the approach of my 30th birthday, my wife and I decided to take a little trip we had been talking about for a while. So last Friday morning we jumped in the Cube and headed north on the 101. The plan was to drive straight to Monterey to enjoy the awesome aquarium they had there, but us being us, we didn’t follow the script.

We were cruising at a steady 75mph when Jenny shouted, “there’s a mission in San Luis Obispo, let’s stop!” Now 2 things are important here, 1. We have a goal to visit all of the California missions and 2. We were driving through San Luis Obispo at the time and the exit was fast approaching…

I pulled across multiple lanes of traffic, ignoring the honks, and we made our way to the San Luis Obispo Mission. They were having a 7th and 8th grade Halloween costume dance. I think Junipero Serra would roll over in his grave (which we would see soon enough).

After giving a homeless guy $1 we were back on the 101 and made it another 15 miles before seeing a sign for the San Miguel Mission, so we stopped there too! It was my favorite one, very old, very original, very dusty.

We finally made it to a cool, blustery Monterey around 2:30 and went straight to the aquarium. I’ll spare you all the details, but the jellyfish and sea horses were the best part.

The next morning we headed back south, first stopping at the Carmel Mission (our third in 2 days) which we breezed through because a wedding was about to start. The highlight of this Mission (in a weird, dark way) was that it was the one where Father Serra (who founded all the Missions) died and is buried. After our quick stop we took off down the PCH through Big Sur (which is absolutely beautiful), across some really high bridges and around some seriously windy roads and finally made it to Hearst Castle.

                                                                                                    Wow.

                                                                                  What a house.

                                                            I think I could live there.

I am not a good enough writer to describe Hearst Castle in a manner that would effectively capture what it is like. Go see it for yourself.

Soon enough we were home, having decided to bypass the 2 Missions we would be passing in order to speed up things, and the trip was over. It was a good introduction into my 30’s, but hopefully it’s just the beginning.

Adventure, have you seen it?

The problem with living a life of adventure is that normal life seems all the more dull. Can anyone honestly think that Indiana Jones really enjoyed being stuck in a classroom teaching students when he could be out chasing the holy grail? Did Clark Kent really enjoy working in the newspaper editing room? No! Adventure is addicting and once you get a taste of it, everything else seems very, very bland.

Adventure can mean different things to different people. To some, going to the market after 8pm is an adventure, to others, visiting their In-Laws would get their adrenaline pumping. I try to take all of life as an adventure, that way nothing is normal, nothing is boring, everything is exciting and full of possibility. But sometimes I lose track. Sometimes I find myself getting bored with the routine of life because at one time I did have what most would consider to be an “exciting” life.

I spent a few years traveling around the world with a group of children from all across Africa. The kids would sing at different venues and we raised money to build schools in their native countries. After that I moved to Uganda, East Africa and embarked on many adventures that could fill an entire book. Now I live in Southern California, have been married for just over 2 years and work full time. It may not sound as adventurous as gallavanting around the world in a bus, living out of a suitcase, but it is just as adventurous, although in different ways. And that’s what I forget sometimes.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t want adventure, I’m a month away from turning 30, I feel settled and in a routine, why shake it up? Then I need to slap myself and say, “don’t become an old, grump yet!” Every day is exciting, every day is a blessing, every day is full of possibility if we decide to look at it that way. Starting my truck in the morning is definitely an adventure and actually driving it on the freeway would be enough to thrill most adrenaline junkies. Digging around through the refridgerator to figure out what to take for lunch can cause some heavy heart-pounding and finding that perfect meal is like discovering a hidden treasure. I’ve learned it’s all about perspective.

I don’t always need to be exploring a jungle in Mexico or getting my passport stamped in Tunisia, there are times for that. Usually I can enjoy dangerous living vicariously by watching “Whale Wars” or reading “Harry Potter”. I love my life, I love how there is so much unknown amongst the routine, and I love that I have an awesome wife to experience all of this with.

So whether I’m at home in California, eating gyros in Greece, or running with the bulls in Spain, I will find adventure and adventure will find me.