Death Valley 2011

The night before a big trip is always crazy. There are those last minute things you can’t do until the very last minute like packing the cooler or cleaning the counters and emptying the dishwasher. This is what it looked like at around 9:30 or 10pm on Tuesday night last week. I had a batch of cookies in, the kids had finally gone down for the night and then my sister called.

81:365, the night before leaving

I had been trying to get in touch with her for weeks. She has a three month old and I still hadn’t been able to talk to her and check in about how it was going being a new mama. She was glowing, I could hear the love in her voice over the phone and although I still needed to pack my bag and get a few other things done, I stopped what I was doing, sat down and talked to her. We chatted for well over a half an hour.
It was worth it to hear her voice and every now and then hear a coo from her little dude.
We didn’t end up going to bed until around 11:30 or so and then got up super duper early to finish loading the car and hit the road. I think I got a total of 4hours of sleep. It didn’t mater though, we were on vacation! When we pulled out of the drive way there was snow falling and I told Daddy-O to hit the gas and blow this Popsicle stand already.


The ride down was okay. I’m not going to deny there were a few melt downs, O

doesn’t do well when you throw him off his morning routine (so like his mommy). But once we met up with the cousins in Tonopah and he got three pancakes in his system, all was right in the world(kid can put back pancakes like a champ). Fifi did pretty darn good for having to be in the car seat for such a long drive as well. We did stopped a few times for diapers and feedings. Oh, and she try to talk us into letting her drive the car at one point too, little stinker.
82:365, She's a natural
Last year we stayed at the Furnace Creek camp ground, but this year the reservations were full. We actually had to make last minute plan changes due to the crazy weather in Santa Cruz. (Big Basin closed down due to high winds and flooding).





So this year we snagged a spot at the Texas Springs camp ground (first come, first serve) and set things up for the night. It wasn’t the best spot though, right where two roads meet.  So the next morning, with a little wheeling and dealing by Daddy-O, we got a much better site.

photo by Daddy-O
We all agreed that we actually liked the Texas Springs camp ground much better and would probably stay there again next year. The sites are a bit smaller so there aren’t the HUGE groups like Furnace creek has and it was a little more quiet overall. We just have to figure out how to get the good spot since we can’t reserve it ahead of time. The 6-8 hour drive down doesn’t get us there until around noon (even if you leave at the crack of dawn)…


three billy goats gruff
The site we wound up moving to was great. We were still near the road, but it wasn’t as busy and the kids had a HUGE hill to play on right across from our tents. More than once we would turn around to see N. at the top of the windy hill yelling down to us and waving. I am sure he had a big smile on his face too.

desert boy



The boys had a great time ‘mining’ and filling the dump truck with rocks and dirt. E had a good time making a hop-scotch board and playing with the chalk. Fifi either chilled in the pack and play perfecting her baby-push ups and plank pose, or in the backpack while we made dinner or hung out around camp. The big kids also enjoyed riding around on their bikes and it confirmed that O is pretty darn ready to get on the scoot bike we got him for Christmas.



The first couple of nights were pretty crazy with the wind. On Thursday night you could have seen me out in my under-roos and t-shirt holding down the shade structure of our tent as HUGE gusts of wind came ripping through camp and Daddy-O worked to take it down so that we wouldn’t all blow away. It was pretty wild. O doesn’t like the wind much and it had him in tears a few times.


He finally asked to sit in the car where he snacked and just sat by himself, he also found the tent to be a good place to hide out… I found him in there raiding the cereal box right before dinner one night. By Friday the winds calmed down, the sun came out and it was finally warm, exactly why we go down there each year.



This year we didn’t do much site seeing. Actually, we didn’t do any site seeing at all until we were leaving the park on the ride home. Our days consisted of breakfast making, pool time at Furnace Creek and lunch and play ground time.






The wind on the first couple of nights kept us from making a campfire and doing smores, much to the kids’ disappointment. Friday and Saturday night allowed us to get the fire going and O perfected his roasting skills. I was amazed at his patience and his ability to not burn the little orbs of sugar to a black crisp, his came out a perfect golden brown.




On our last night, I broke out the glow sticks and had all the kids put the bracelets around their ankles and wrists. This was partly so that we could spot them as they ran around camp and across the way, partly so other campers could see them and partly for the fun of seeing our little Death Valley aliens run around like crazy.


I love this photo that I was able to capture of the beautiful starry sky, our tent and them running back and forth to me from the road.

85:365, night time

Really, we just hung out around camp and it was nice- like a super relaxing vacation. We had fun little hikes right by the campsite if we wanted to stretch our legs or get in a good view of the sunset/sunrise.



We took our sweet time leaving on Sunday. Daddy-O and I actually tossed around the idea of staying one more night. Instead, we took one more dip in the pool, got snacks for lunch and then made our way out of the park and to Scotty’s Castle where we had a picnic lunch and leg stretch.
O was so pooped-out on our way there that he fell asleep mid-Cheeto crunching.

86:365, Picnic at Scotty's Castle

I shot a roll of film with my old Pentax at Scotty’s and let Daddy-O have the digital to play with. Here are some of his shots from our little wandering around.



It was a great trip and I am so glad we made time to do it again this year.

8 Comments Death Valley 2011

  1. painted fish studio April 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    wow, what a great trip! i haven’t camped in ages, but you have me wanting to sleep under the stars.

  2. kyndale_pease April 4, 2011 at 12:51 am

    wow, you got some great shots! i need to get out camping!!! ♥

  3. Dawn April 4, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Looks like a great trip. Lovin the desert shots.
    Did you guys get out there when the wildflowers were bloomin’ like crazy and there was a lake in the middle of the valley? It was so amazing.

  4. Vanessa/NessieNoodle April 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    @kyndale_pease thank you! get out there!!!! We had such a good time.

    @Dawn There were some wildflowers, but not a ton and I do think there was a bit of water in the playa, though like I said, we didn’t get out site seeing too much this year…

  5. Ani April 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    So awesome! It’s been years since I’ve been; maybe next spring break…

  6. simplycaitlin April 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Wow! Looks like you guys had a ton of fun. Love the pictures, and now I want to get out and do some camping. Too bad it’s freakin’ snowing all the time here!


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