We left Shepherd’s Pool with the sky bright and the sun hitting its high point of noon. We were fine for about an hour, then it all of the sudden hit us: WHAT DID WE JUST DO??
Did we really just put in an extra few THOUSAND miles and countless dollars and time and energy to brave the cold for the hot springs only to stay for LESS THAN A WEEK??
WHAT WERE WE THINKING?
Right: we were thinking we were out of coffee, needed some food, showers and a laundromat. And sure, we needed all of those, but we could have stopped in at the fine town of Mammoth – like we did any number of times in the past – and accomplished that. We didn’t have to LEAVE THE AREA! We had plans to go back to Bodie, the best little ghost town ever. We had plans to walk among the tuffa of Mono Lake, to talk geology with Micah and make rad tuffa rubbings with all the kids and – WHAAAAAAAAT????
WE JUST UP AND LEFT??!!! We skipped it all because we decided we *had* to buy coffee, do some laundry and stuff?!
Kicking ourselves for our foolishness (and some dashboard head bashing to boot), we decided we were going to apply that hard lesson to the whole trip:
KEEP FUN IN MIND
The laundry can wait. All that can wait. Okay, maybe coffee can’t but we can leave, get some coffee and COME BACK.
So then, still in throes of robust regret, we saw the sign for Darwin – “Ghost Town” and we were like, oh yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. The kids might not see Bodie again but we’ll go to Darwin.
We turned. Drove. And drove, and drove. It was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay the hell out there, clear out in a bunch of empty mountain space.
Darwin is an odd little place. Sort of like a ghost town that a mix of old Burners from Burning Man, hippie/artist types and hermit distance workers decided to re-inhabit.
Half of the town is dead; half of it is alive. I guess that makes it a zombie town?
We didn’t walk around too much because it felt weird to gawk at people’s front yards like they were a tourist attraction when clearly, they weren’t.
We just waved at who we saw, smiled, said “hi”. Took some pictures. Left.
We felt somewhat unsatisfied. Like we had a full Turkey dinner in front of us but we had only eaten the cranberry sauce. We wanted to keep going, keep exploring and fill up on the good stuff.
And that’s exactly when we saw the sign for Death Valley.
And so Mikey turned and we started up the road to Death Valley.
And then, BOOM! We were there! Dusk was falling as we drove into a campground. $15 for the night (- gas at the adjacent station was $6/gallon!!!), showers included. There weren’t any huge buses, just small campers, lots of tents, big spaces and our kids went nuts with the rocks they found to play with. Moxie grabbed a stick and had to be dragged away from her desert art creation; Micah was becoming obsessed with building those rock towers and Mac-Q? Oh, he was just off and running wherever and whenever he could.
You know, a lot of people have wondered how we can deal with THREE KIDS outside, and I have to say, it’s so much easier watching the kids outside like it was in Death Valley than it ever has been either in the Bay Area or in Humboldt County. There aren’t any cabinets with cleaning solution for the kids to get into, there aren’t crazy steep stairs. There aren’t substances or solvents around, there’s nothing except ROCKS and DIRT. Oh, I’m sure there are snakes, scorpions and other things that rattle and bite but in the close-by spaces that we herd the kids to, nope. Just rocks and dirt.
And that’s easy. That’s fun. Kids love that stuff and we can all just relax and have a good time. Look at the sky and enjoy the show.