Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Ed Higgins (author) and Matthew Higgins of Purcellville, Va.
Where, when, why: Matthew and I share many interests, including philosophy, photography and fly-fishing, that serve as a means of exploring places and people. Last December, Matthew finally caved in to my desire to visit Death Valley National Park, located in California and Nevada, for three days of father-and-son bonding with no heavy discussions allowed. Death Valley’s remoteness and varied topography had intrigued me for several years, and going during fall addressed my concern about extreme temperatures. The focus of the trip was photography, but it really became about father-son connecting.
Highlights and high points: Death Valley’s sights and scenes are diverse. On our first day, we found ourselves awake at 5 a.m., waiting for the sunrise and its beautiful light to show at Dante’s View, a 5,476-foot-high vantage point. In the afternoon, we hiked the vast and interesting salt flats at Badwater Basin, which offers unique terrain at 282 feet below sea level. The ghost town of Rhyolite in Nevada and a nearby 26-mile canyon trek provided other adventures.
Cultural connection or disconnect: We met several interesting travelers who were exploring the wonders of Death Valley, some repeat visitors. When asked why they returned, they said that during each visit, they found a new amazement, whether it was in the rock formations, the sunrises and sunsets, the shadow of the dunes, or the Native American drawings within hidden canyons. It lifted their spirits and satisfied their need for new experiences.
Biggest laugh or cry: At dinner one night, our waiter insisted that we try breakfast at the Inn at Furnace Creek, one of the more expensive restaurants in the area. The server extolled its white linen tablecloths, lush gardens and majestic views. We laughed, as the recommendation came out of nowhere and seemed a little out of place coming from a server at a competing establishment. But the next morning we “felt the calling” and had the breakfast as recommended. We enjoyed the experience so much that we later returned for a second wonderful meal.
How unexpected: The temperatures during our visit were between 38 and 65 degrees, a nice surprise for a location named Death Valley. (Temperatures can exceed 100 degrees during the summer.)
Fondest memento or memory: The night before we left Death Valley, Matthew suggested that we review our photographs — many taken at the same time and place — side by side. We shared many similar perspectives over the course of our travels, but for one sunrise, I had focused on the developing light while Matthew had focused on a young couple soaking in the moment. Parents and their children can see life differently and still enjoy those moments.
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