Friday, November 27, 2009

Will he come with me?

Ispoke with my brother Mark today.  He's just  few years younger than I am.  He's a doctor who lives in San Mateo, California and though we don't see each other often, we share many interests in common that whenever we do get together, time flies by quickly because no matter what we do, we thoroughly enjoy ourselves.  One thing we definitely have in common is a penchant for galavanting and exploring new places.  I told him of my plans to go to Guatemala for Semana Santa and I asked if he would be interested in going with me.  Of  course, I was doing my best to twist his arm :-)  I don't know if he as just trying to be polite or if he really meant it, but he told me he would think about it.  I hope he decides to come *keeping my fingers crossed* :-)  The last time we traveled together was a few years back when I made a trip out to the Bay Area.  He had a hankering for a road trip and so did I.  We pulled out the map of California, bounced around a few ideas about where to go and ended up settling on Death Valley National Park.  Yep, Death Valley which at 280+ feet below sea level is the lowest spot in North America.  Name sounds foreboding but it was a place neither of us had been to and the information provided on the park's website made it sound like a very interesting place to see and it turned out to be exactly that.  If you've never been, you must put it on your list of places to see in the US!


A couple of days later, we were on the road.....driving south towards LA and then headed east towards Nevada.  It was springtime and though it was hot, wildflowers were blooming and the streams were filled with pupfish. When the park ranger told us we would see fish, we kept looking for FISH but what we eventually discovered were fish. Of course, we were in a desert environment....who would expect to find fish here. Turns out, pupfish are about the size of guppies :-)

Death Valley is all about unique geological formations.  For two days, we drove through the park, stopping to see the salt flats at Badwater Basin, the sand dunes at Mesquite Flats and an unusual area covered by the huge salt crystals that's called the Devil's Golf Course.  We hiked through Mosaic Canyon,  and climbed up Ubehebe Crater.  In the car, we got as close to Artist's Drive and Palette as a vehicle without four wheel drive would be allowed to go.  And last, but not least, we visited Scotty's Castle which was the vacaton home of an eccentric millionaire....had to be a bit crazy to want to build a vacation home in this part of the world!

We spent our first night in a casino hotel in Nevada as there are not a whole of lodging options within the park itself. 

Our way back to San Franscisco was up the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We spent one night in a little town along the way.  The towns in this part of California are known for their fishing....lots of mountain streams.  Unfortunately, we didn't have our fishing gear with us so we didn't even stop to inquire about where was the best spot to drop line.

We hit the road bright and early after breakfast the next day.  Our plan was to drive north until we reached Mono Lake and then westward through Yosemite National Park.  Unfortunately, all the passes through the park were still snow covered and were closed to traffic.  We continued further north and took our westward journey through Lake Tahoe instead.  The trip home took us a few hours longer than planned but we weren't in a rush so we took our time.  All in all, it was a short but great and very memorable trip to Death Valley.

I hope my brother says Yes to Guatemala because I know it will be trip that we will both remember for years to come!!