Death Valley and the Early Bird

camping, Death Valley, road trips, desert

April 29, 2013 • Camps and Hikes, Latest • Views: 802

Northern Death Valley and a bathroom

Northern Death Valley and a bathroom

I was in Death Valley last week for three days, leaving at one in the morning Monday night–that’s a weird sequence of words isn’t it?–sleeping in my car at a gas station at about 4:30, parked between a pair of big rigs, privately anxious that the guy rummaging through the dumpster twenty feet away wouldn’t ask me any questions.

I didn’t bring any wood and you’re not allowed to gather in Death Valley NP anyway–I don’t think I could have found any that first night when I camped on the northern end at about 100 feet elevation. I think the site was called Mesquite Springs, but I can’t remember. The next night I camped at around 8200 feet, just below the trailhead for Telescope Peak, the biggest mountain in the park.

Anyway, I didn’t have a fire and so each night was forced into my small tent at around nine o’clock where I read until my neck hurt and did my best to get as drunk as I could off a single cup of wine from the cheap box I purchased from Trader Joe’s. (There’s has got to be better camp drinks I could muster, right?) Without realizing it, each night I faced my tent east and so was woken up each morning by a strong desert sun tapping me on the shoulder.

Sunset at Mesquite Springs in Death Valley NP

Sunset at Mesquite Springs in Death Valley NP

I’ve never been very good at waking up. It’s the laziest part of my personality and I really do think if anyone could do some good from a year in the service it’d be me, for that reason alone (making my bed every morning would probably be the other). I work late and I work at a very sociable job full of sociable people who are pretty much always going out and doing things. Are all jobs like that? Am I just generalizing? No matter. I work till ten most nights and I’ve made it a goal of mine to be up by eight at the latest each day, giving me a good six hours to take care of business before I work at two. It had been a struggle. Basically I was trying to break a lifetime habit of sleeping in. Sleeping in is supposed to be a luxury but somehow I made it a regular ritual.

But since I’ve been back I’ve been up and wide awake at 7:30 each morning. Last night was the first night I stayed up late–after work I went to my friend’s place to watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones and Dr. Who. I didn’t get in bed until two but was still up at 7:45, though I think I’ve come down with a cold and so I slept in another 45 minutes. It feels fantastic if you don’t mind me saying so. I’ve been up for several hours today already. I edited a chapter, I made breakfast, I’m almost done with this post and I still have more than two hours before I go to work. I’m wondering what I should do next? Perhaps the library if there is one open, though I’m sort of frightened by the fine I no doubt owe. Maybe I should find a nice place under the sun and get more reading in. Or maybe I should just take a nap.

© 2013 Christopher Dart


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