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Mother bares all

Stovepipe Wells Resort

September 10/Day 55. Today I treat myself to a resort experience at Stovepipe Wells. Which means I approach the front desk and nonchalantly ask, “May I have a pool towel, please?”

I had no idea you could swim in Death Valley.

I go to the motel’s small but comfortable lobby and use their unreliable wifi to catch up on my blog and read the news. Nothing much has changed in the world, has it? It seems my absence from the default world has made no difference in the large scheme of things. It’s actually been a relief not to imbibe the daily propaganda that assails me from all directions, all the time. I wonder if I can maintain that abstemious habit once I’m back in civilization a couple of weeks from now…oh, too soon.

Salt flats

I realize that if I had a Jeep and a month I could put them to good use in Death Valley. There are so many backcountry roads that end at trailheads which lead to historical artifacts and awesome vistas that the list is practically endless. Ghost towns; old mine shafts; relics of 20 mule trains; lonely forgotten cemeteries; Scotty’s Castle—as its name implies, a veritable castle in the depths of the valley; wandering rocks that leave mysterious tracks on the smooth desert floor, and on and on….

It suddenly occurs to me that I’ve traveled both the highest and the lowest continuous highways in America on my journey: Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park (+12,183 ft.) and Badwater Road, which traverses Badwater Basin here in Death Valley, at -282 ft. the lowest point on the continent. Is there some significance in that? I don’t know; I embrace both the highs and the lows.


I’m struck by the authentic character of desert wherever I sojourn on it. It’s in the desert where Mother Nature dares to bare herself completely, hiding nothing, revealing every outline, every crease and fold, every magnificent imperfection of her body. Elsewhere she coyly covers herself in elegant garments, whether tree, grass, water, verdant foliage or even deep, rich topsoil. Here, though—in the desert—she is naked. Fetching. Seductive. Dangerous.

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