With the sad news of Michelle’s father passing, Michelle returned to Australia for a few weeks to be with our family and has left me in charge of her blog. Sad news, but she will be back soon.

After boarding Michelle on a midday flight back to Oz, the solo adventurer left Sacramento for Yosemite National Park.  It’s a shame that both Canada & US have started to close the majority of their camping grounds by mid Autumn/Fall and Yosemite is no different, with only one campground left open. I was able to get two nights but then I had to go into a draw for a third night. The draw was held at 3pm on the day required and I missed out. So with nowhere to go, I decided to spend the night photographing Glacier Point. Funny thing was, I met a young guy from Singapore who did his pilot training at Tamworth and knew Peel Street and the Tutor Hotel well. That night I may have got some sleep in between the coyotes howling and fighting. Although it was late fall, Yosemite always provides many speculator views.

Next it was off to Death Valley via the Togo Pass which closed soon after I drove through, but it provided a quicker route. The scenery quickly changed from pine forest to dry open country side with tumble weeds blowing in the wind.  As you enter Death Valley from Lone Pine, it’s amazing how quickly you descend from thousands of feet above sea level to below sea level with a drive where the dry mountainous scenery changes around every bend.

My first stop was Mesquite Sand Dunes where the first Star War film was made. Surprisingly the dunes were stamped with thousands of foot prints and did not look like the pristine dunes in the film.  To finds some with no foot prints meant walking out about a kilometre, I did so with no water and in jeans. When I returned to the car park it was 28 degrees celsius and I quickly changed into shorts and consumed 1-2 litres of much needed H20.

Furnace Creek was where I based myself for Death Valley, in a campground with that much needed shower. This was my first trip to this National Park and my main aim was to photograph the mysterious moving rocks. I was told these were at a place know as the Racetrack and required a 4WD, so I hired a Jeep.  After an early morning departure, there is nothing more exhilarating than being the only one around for miles on some rough outback dirt track or so you think. As I looked in my rear vision mirror, I noticed a jet bearing down the valley towards me. As it zoomed overhead, the pilot pulled up into a full loop and was coming around to line up on me again. My instincts took over and I bailed out of the vehicle and starting “SHOOTING”. The result was a great photograph of the fighter lining up on my vehicle again. I’m sure a blue jeep in the middle of a red dessert was a dream come true for any fighter pilot to have a bit of fun with. Off the main road the tracks are rough, I had to travel 26 miles at about 15mph, so when you do the sums, its about 2 hours each way, but the scenery was amazing.

“TIP OF THE DAY” If you ever have to travel between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, go via Death Valley. The main highway is great and you get to see and drive through the entire park. If you overnight at Furnace Creek, there are heaps of amazing things to see like the Badwater, the Devils Golf Course, Artist Drive and Zabriskie Point.

From Death Valley, its time to head off to the big smoke and the lights of Las Vegas but its always worth a detour via AREA 51.