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The Long Way to Death Valley

Sleeping in a tiny tent was scary, so scary that every single time a noise of a breaking branch in the distance would reach my ear I would wake up in panic. Reading articles about bear attacks in California just before the trip was not very wise, every single time I would close my eyes I could see myself running away from a massive grizzly bear.5 am jet lagged internal alarm clock meant I barely got any sleep, however, I didn’t mind, after all, it was my Birthday and Daniel had a little surprise for me – a jelly sweet cupcake with a birthday candle in it. Looked super pretty, but not very edible [Chuckles].

Angry weather Lady on a phone screen told us that we should get out of the park, well, ok I admit- I am exaggerating, but the forecasted storms and heavy winds did not seem very appealing on my birthday night, so we had our last stroll around the park, packed our bags and started our journey towards Death Valley.

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The original plan was to go through Tioga road- fastest and most scenic route, but again, we were out of luck- the road was not yet opened due to snow blocking the road (you can always check road openings here). We had to improvise and decided to go o through Stanislaus national park and spend the night by the lake. About 2 hours into the journey we started noticing road closure ahead signs, but optimism was our last hope till the hail storm began… We were in the middle of the forest with not a single car around, on now icy road(Not exactly how you would imagine California). It was starting to get dark and we were running out of petrol, the decision has been made to turn around and take the long boring highway towards Death Valley. After 3,5 hour drive we arrived at a little town called Visalia, it was late and we were exhausted it was time to find a motel and settle for the night. Not sure if I was just extremely tired, but it didn’t feel safe there, I am quite sure there were gangs in our motel’s parking lot dealing drugs. The motel didn’t seem to get many foreigners as all the staff started referring to us as a British couple straight after the check-in.

It was my birthday night stuck in the not the nicest motel in the middle of nowhere, we were exhausted and hungry so ended up getting 2 ridiculously large pizzas and a bottle of wine.. (2 litre bottle of wine…). A night in front of TV with food, wine & my now fiancé was not as bad as it sounds and I had the best nights sleep – I think my jet lag was finally gone.

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Denys pancakes are the best way to start another day on the road [Touches her rumbling tummy while typing…] With our tummy’s full we have left the town of Visalia and 3 hours later arrived at Panamint Spring resort. This is my favourite place to stay at the Death Valley National park, it offers hotel rooms, Tent Cabins, and campground. Tent Cabin is always my choice, a possibility of scorpion or tarantula crawling on me while I sleep in the tent is just not very appealing. You also get a picnic table and a fire pit. After enjoying the sunset with a glass of wine at the restaurant in front of the camp we got back to the tent attempting to start the fire. Not a surprise it was not as hard as in Yosemite, here everything is dry so we had fire just in seconds.

There aren’t that many places in the world where the only source of light at night is your fire and it is so quiet that you can hear your own heart beat. It is a great place to think about the world, your life, a meaning of existence and come to the realization how tiny and insignificant you are in this universe.


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