Death Valley and Zion

October 2016

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Death Valley National Park

How did this happen? How did it come to be?  I need to pinch myself to be sure.  It all started with being too late plan a Thanksgiving and/or Christmas vacation for which we wouldn’t have to sell our house. Then came the school holidays for the elections. The timing was perfect. The husband is not particularly keen on either camping or Death Valley (blazing hot in summer and below freezing in winters), but he is keen on using up his leave. When I suggest Death Valley, he quickly  runs a fact/weather/temperature check ( I’m sure he did) and agrees.  Since the temperatures are extreme in summer and winter, the transition seasons are a great time to be there. We got the last campsite available at the Furnace Creek campground ( the only shaded  = most desireable campground), and I think that’s what sealed the two night camping deal. The husband hates letting a deal pass + he knows how badly I’ve been wanting to do this. Also, we didn’t camp or barbeque all summer, so we kind of made a big deal ( deal again) of fall camping a little earlier.

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Death Valley National Park

The husband has the logistics sorted. He’s booked us on Southwest Airlines, so we get to check-in 2 bags each. This means we can carry out tent and comforter. We threw away our old mattress topper,  our tent bed, or we could have taken that too. He’s rented a car to drive down from Vegas to Death Valley and back. He’s also squeezed in a day at Zion.

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Zion National Park

I call the parks department and find out that to hike the Wave – the coolest and most famous formation in Zion, we need to apply through an online lottery four months in advance. There is a walk-in lottery as well, but you need to be there one day in advance. Not happening. Next, check with friends and find out that the Narrows are super cool too. I’m super kicked about it, but it’s an eight hour hike and needs river sandals and sticks (can be rented).  The husband is sure we don’t have that kind of time either, so we decide to wing it.

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Death Valley National Park

We’ve packed a little pan to cook in and burger patties and buns. I have steel plates, spoons and glasses for us, so as not to increase landfill (lol). In a ziplock bag, I even have a sponge with some dishwashing liquid on it (the environmental conundrum!). We’ve packed layers of clothing.GPS – check. Camera+ charged batteries – check. Phones and chargers – check. We are all set to go!

 

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Kings and Queens

Photo courtesy Flickr

I’ve seen African Lions in Kenya and Asian Lions in India. Next on my list is to see the Desert Lions.

The place to see these lions is the Namib desert of Namibia. Another reason to visit Namib desert  is that it is the oldest desert in the world. Other inhabitants of the Namib desert include the Himba tribe. What is so unique about the Himba people is that each  each Himba belongs to the clan of both their mother and their father. How beautiful!

*Original photo can be viewed here. If this picture belongs to you,please let me know if you have any objections to my using it and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

 

Riding a Camel on the Sand Dunes of the Moroccan Sahara

April 2015

 The Sleeping Gypsy

The Sleeping Gypsy

I was at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) a few days ago and Henri Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy filled me with a strange longing to experience a desert landscape. I imagine myself riding a camel through the shifting sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara. The Sahara, meaning “The Great Desert,” in Arabic is the world’s largest hot desert and one of the harshest environments on the planet. I imagine the Sahara as a vast expanse of soft sand dunes, where dehydration and intense sunlight reflecting off the sand trick the eye into seeing things that don’t exist. The Sahara is much more. Most of the Sahara is characterized as rocky hamada, a type of desert landscape that has very little sand and is made up of primarily barren, hard, rocky plateaus.

Our first subscription box ever - the Marrakesh Box from try the World

Our first subscription box ever – the Marrakesh Box from Try the World

I see myself riding a camel on massive sand dunes of Erg Chicaga, with a guide to keep us from getting lost. Story has it that long long ago, a wealthy family refused hospitality to a poor woman and her son. God was so offended by this act that *He buried them under the mounds of sand today. In the modern world, these sand dunes are know as Erg Chebbi or Erg Chicaga.

Starting before dawn to beat the heat; admiring the colourful sunrise, we’ll march in silence. Slowly we’ll get accustomed to the awkward gait of the camel as it lurches forward, even learning to sit cross legged like Lawrence of Arabia.  When it gets too hot and the desert starts to shimmer in a thousand shades of burnished gold, we’ll set up our tents at an oasis and rest in the shade of a palm tree. They say if you know where to look, water is never more than 10 kilometers away. Could there be anything more ethereal than standing atop the picturesque dunes at sunset and watching as the harsh yellow glare magically transforms into soft glowing shades of orange, pink and purple? If the night is warm, we’ll sleep under the stars, or sing songs in the light of the radiant moon. On cold nights, we’ll warm ourselves by a crackling fire and listen to wondrous stories filled with lions and djinns!

Moroccan Goodies

Moroccan Goodies

The end of November, and January and February are the best times to visit Erg Chebbi/ Erg Chicaga. The weather is not as harsh as summer or peak winter and since it is off season, it is also the quietest time.

Was it worth it? Well, the subscription rate is definitely more than the aggregate cost of the goods, but it is curated and sweetly packed and overall not very expensive. For $30 -$40 every 2 months, I'll take it.

Was it worth it?
Well, the subscription rate is definitely more than the aggregate cost of the goods, but it is curated and sweetly packed and overall not very expensive. For $30 -$40 every 2 months, I’ll take it.

*He – I believe God is gender free. I refer to him as masculine purely for convenience and convention

P.S – The date is not a typo. This is from April 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desert Camping with the Bedouins in Wadi Rum

*Photo Courtesy Flickr

*Photo Courtesy Flickr

Camping is high on my list of things to do. The Husband is not too keen, but when he saw how disappointed I was about not being able to camp on our up-coming road trip, specially in Death Valley, he were sweetly came up came up with a plan to do some local camping.

Oh! There’s something super romantic about camping in the desert. The vast emptiness.The silences. The night sky shimmering with thousands of tiny diamante like stars, clear and unaffected by pollution. The spectacular sunrises. The people! The people of the desert, I imagine would be different from the people of the city. They would be roughed and harsh, but fiercely loyal. Their faces would be weathered yet so beautiful. They would independent and free spirited people. Perhaps I read too much.

Real Bedouins,the ones who live in deserts (with no water to bathe for days or months), in close proximity to their camels are probably a stinky lot, and highly irritable because of the weather. The ones I will actually meet would probably be neither. They might be regular people, just like you and me, who will hopefully will not be putting on theatrical airs and gushing, “Khushamdeed!! Khushamdeed!!” In addition to reading a lot, I also watch a lot of crappy Hindi movies.

My apologies if that offended anyone. I am sure the Bedouin are wonderful people and I look forward to their hspitality.

Now if I could convert a desert camping trip to include a camel safari through some stunning landscape and add a trip to the Dead Sea wouldn’t that be just perfect? That is where Wadi Rum comes in. Wadi Rum! Doesn’t it sound exotic? The Dead Sea is a 4 hour drive from Wadi Rum. They are both in Jordan, so you need just one visa.

While in Jordan, Petra-a UNESCO World Heritage site is not to be missed and Aqaba would be a great place to experience the Red Sea.

* Original Photo here.If this photo belongs to you and you have any objection to my using it, please let me know and I will take it down. If not, thank you for letting me use it.

 

** edited to add- Anthea of antheaschronicles tells me that Indian nationals do not require a visa to go to Jordan. Read about her adventures in Jordan here.