I will be the first to admit I am NOT a road trip person. Somehow I fell for a guy who loves them and in turn, here I find myself making it to all the places I would love to get to but just can’t summon myself to do on my own.
Road trips drag me down memory lane of childhood trips all around the United States, up into Canada and down into Mexico. I can’t tell you how painful eight hours of hanging out in the back seat with your older brother who is always inventing new ways to torture you is, just to see four heads carved out in a rock or a forest of big trees. What the hell, so what, they are big trees! In my mind I would’ve rather been at Disneyland.
Hindsight is everything. Now I won’t step foot in a Disneyland and wish I could relive those childhood moments with the sense of awe and wonderment I take with me now.
When my adventure seeking, is-bored-at-doing-anything-that-doesn’t-have-the-possibility-of-killing-him boyfriend suggested we check out the “super bloom” in Death Valley, I was a little shocked but pleasantly surprised, as it is hard for me to try and keep up with a man of that speed. Unfortunately I was under the weather and getting my butt kicked by allergies as well as a cold. What better place to go than to a massive bloom of flowers! Well at least I died in some place pretty.
Nina, Billy, and I set out Friday night to Tecopa. Less than an hour into the trip I was contemplating catching an Uber home, but I really couldn’t speak through the mass amounts of mucus exiting my face. So onward bound.
The rest of the our caravan met us in Tecopa Saturday morning, which consisted of three other vehicles, 6 more people, and 2 cats, no joke. Our plans almost immediately got kiboshed as the road we wanted to take had been washed out from the same rains that gave way to our amazing world famous bloom. We lucked out and ran into a local photographer who gave us the scoop on where to go: a dirt road to Saline Springs (?) then from there we could connect with Badwater Road and take it up to Furnace Creek.
Our first stop was amazing. The bloom was interlacing with the slate protruding out of the ground like waves of shark fins. Beautiful.
Positive our luck was changing despite the washed out road, we were all pretty giddy from our Sound of Music-esqe moment with all the flowers, we continued on, all of four feet.
Nina, “Hey guys, where’s my phone?”
It didn’t take us long to find Nina’s phone completely shattered behind one of the car wheels that had just rolled it over.
R.I.P. Nina’s iPhone 6s.
Okay, no proper road, crushed phone, but time to keep moving. Even a crushed phone couldn’t ruin Nina’s spirit. But the universe wasn’t done yet.
As we passed a couple stopped in the other direction on our very narrow dirt road, they informed us, that like them, we had a flat tire. Trying to leave enough room for our entire caravan to pull over and leave enough room for other outdoor enthusiasts taking the scenic route, we drove up a ways and pulled over.
Unsure if it was a lost cause, the guys gathered around the deflating tire. I would love to say one of the girls stepped up and schooled those boys on fixing a flat, but we all failed as tom boys. And so the guys jacked, sprayed, tinkered, toyed, rolled, and finally gave up on that poor tire. Our caravan was going to have to split up: one car going driving Billy back to civilization to get a new tire, and the rest of us continuing on.
So I packed up my bag of pills, sprays, painkillers, cameras, and a jacket and set off without my partner in crime.
We hardly made it to the main destinations we were intended for, too distracted by all the flowers, not know if we would see a bloom further along better than the ones we were seeing at that very moment. We stopped for flowers, until we burned out on stopping for flowers. Which didn’t take too long but got us through till nearing sundown.
If you’ve never been to Death Valley, it should still come as no surprise that cell service there is scarce. We were using walkie talkies to communicate, but this doesn’t do anyone much good if someones walkie is not on, or they are not within range. As the day was coming to an end, we happened to lose half of our two car caravan and we still had no word from the other two cars in group on Mission Flat Tire. I suppose I should also mention, we weren’t able to get campsite reservations. It was all first come first serve and we had no specific meeting place for the group.
Unsure of where our entire group was, our car started the mission of find a camping site. I would like to say that the super bloom was our little secret and we had Furnace Creek all to ourselves, but I’m pretty sure EVERYONE got the same memo we did. Finding our friends and a campsite was starting to become a futile search. Campsites were brimming with tents and campers, cars were flooding in from every direction and talking through our walkie talkies was as close as you can get to having a one sided conversation with a wall.
Just as we were having discussions where to stealth camp we finally started getting cell reception and were able to track down the other car we had been traveling with throughout the day. At the same time a camp host was giving us the skinny of another campsite to hit up that most likely had openings. We scrambled to get our friends and get over to the campsite with openings.
Sure enough we found the other camp host and he had started sending tent campers to RV slots. Score! Now if we could just find Team Flat Tire. Not having much to do in terms of tent set up, since my tent was in the flat tire car, I maned the walkie hoping to hear a familiar voice come through. I have to admit, being sick and still having a number of my meds in our car, as well as all my warm clothes and sleeping gear, I was a little concerned about them not making it through.
But no more than 10 minutes into starting camp set up, Billy’s voice comes through the walkie, “Hey guys, coming into Furnace Creek. Anyone there?”
I decked myself out with decorative blue lights Jen was using to pimp her tent out, and started walking toward the entrance so they could easily find me in the chaos we had now coined as Bloomageddon.
Most the festivities were a blur after that for me, as my only real focus was sleeping. In the morning, as a true caravan, we continued together, heading down to Devil’s Golf Course, seeing Artists Palette, and hiking Natural Bridge Road. We even ran into friends over night and on the way out.
On the way out we did a 30 minute hike into Darwin Falls on the other end of Death Valley. Although I think we were most excited about the ice cream cones we got right before that. And to end the trip we hit up Music Road in Lancaster. Very silly, but everyone should check out.
It’s amazing how a trip that was suppose to be low key turned into another adventure of flat tires, washed out roads, busted phones, misplaced friends, colliding with friends, and just all around fun. I’m just happy I didn’t die from allergy overload…
or did I?