Foreign Beyond

Death Valley

Death Valley, California

March, 2017

I stumbled into Stovepipe Wells like some bedraggled road kill, ordered a local beer at the only pub in town and mustered the pills to ask the crusty bartend if she knew of a place nearby where a feller might take a shower. She looked at me with an expression of bemused disregard and I settled for the beer and a forthcoming cheeseburger.

Driving days by one’s self through the desert can do things to even the strictest of misanthropes and, after a couple more brews, I began kicking the can with a similarly noxious young couple at the bar. They were from New Hampshire but I let it pass, and we got to talking about adventures and my deficiencies in the whole “planning” department.

Through the looking weeds
Through the looking weeds

As it turned out, there was only one designated camping area in town and it was fully booked for the evening. They offered me a corner of their RV but vestiges of social etiquette and the sobering realization that, despite a good couple hours of conversation, I still didn’t know much about these folks lead me to insist that I would wander into the dunes alone and set up camp there, and screw the man.

I said so long to the kindly New Hampshirites and drove about a mile out of town to a deserted turn around surrounded by considerable dunes. Then I pulled my gear from the trunk and set out barefoot into the desert, my bags and tent dragging unfurled breadcrumbs into the warm sand behind.