Monday, June 20, 2016

death valley at 28

All I want to do is wake up in the desert on my birthday, I thought. And it was the oddest thing to think, because I don't even like the desert that much. If I were to rate landscapes based on how beautiful I found them to be, the desert would most certainly come in last.
And yet... I couldn't get the longing out of my head. So, I booked a hotel room (I am many things but a solo-camper I certainly am not), got my oil changed, packed a change of clothes and some groceries... and drove out to Death Valley around noon on May 28th.
I'm not not a birthday person. I do enjoy celebrating with close friends and, if I'm lucky, family. (I did, later). But this year I sought to be grounded, connected, gloriously free—all at once. I needed to lighten the heaviness of certain memories and current events.
After checking in, I ventured to Artists Palette; then Dante's View for sunset over Badwater Basin. And just as the desert became completely blanketed by stars, I arrived back at the hotel. I bought a beer and pulled a rocking chair out into the darkness to gaze.
The next morning, after accidentally waking up early, I watched the sun rise with Letters to a Young Poet, and ~20 photographers.
There aren't words to describe how spectacular an experience, nor how special it felt to be a part of it. Feliz cumpleaños, indeed. 
I went on to meditatively walk the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes before heading back to the hotel for avocado toast and coffee. And that was that! Almost. I also stopped for a hike through Mosaic Canyon and drove up to Aguereberry Point on my way out of the park.
Twenty-eight sounds old to me—not in a "ugh, I'm so old!" kind of way (how obnoxious), but in a "wow, I've lived a bit, huh?" way. And waking up in the desert at 28 was perfect. The wide open space and relentless dry heat and pristine towering peaks above the below-sea-level basin were everything I'd been craving. It instilled the most serene awareness of my minuscule, and all the while, worthy existence. Needless to say, the desert landscape might be growing on me...

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