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© Richard Knight
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

[June 2011]

On my way back to Las Vegas from Yosemite National Park, I decided to see Death Valley. This meant I would have to drive the length of the Sierras on the eastern side of the mountain range.

I crossed at Monitor Pass (8,314’) and intersected U.S. 395 about 35 miles below Carson City. Turning south, I had spectacular views of Mono Lake (where Clint Eastwood filmed “High Plains Drifter”) and Mammoth Lakes. On reaching Lone Pine, made famous by the Westerns filmed there, I turned east and made my way into Death Valley National Park.

It was not my first visit to Death Valley. Linda and I were there in 1972, and we shot two rolls of film. Back in those days, it was “supposedly” less expensive to mail undeveloped film to a wholesale developer. Our film was lost, and we had nothing to show for our visit. (Sound familiar?) Now – 39 years later – all I had to do was protect a computer chip until I could upload the images that night. Bravo digital!

Any visit to Death Valley should start at the Furnace Creek Visitors’ Center. If you are on a one-day schedule, there won’t be time to see everything. In that case, after Furnace Creek, I recommend the following stops: Badwater (featuring a landscape of vast salt flats and, at 282’ below sea level, the lowest point in North America); Zabriskie Point (especially at sunrise or sunset); and Dante’s View, the most breathtaking viewpoint in the Park.

Some of us will remember “Death Valley Days,” a syndicated Western anthology that appeared on television from 1952-75. It was hosted by several well-known personalities, including Ronald Reagan (long before he entered politics). The show was sponsored by “20-Mule Team Borax,” a detergent, whose name harkened back to the days when teams made up of twenty mules would haul borax out of Death Valley. (Please click on the link for a very brief, but interesting, video clip.)

Many of us will remember that some doubted that anyone actually landed on the moon 42 years ago this Wednesday. Skeptics – and there were many – claimed that the landing was staged, and that the astronauts were really camped out on the salt flats you see here (at ground level from Badwater and at high above from Dante’s View).

I highly recommend a visit to Death Valley. Summertime temperatures rise to 110 F. or more, but with no humidity and plenty of water to drink, the heat is easily tolerated.

I am leaving for Maine tomorrow and will be away until mid-August. I will rarely have access to the Internet, but I look forward to eventually catching up with you.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

53 responses

  • Leslie Hunziker

    Leslie Hunziker   gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    Oh, yeah! I am diggen' this, Richard. Thanks for the tour!!

  • Kathleen Mercado

    Kathleen Mercado (Deleted) said (18 Jul 2011):


  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    These are incredible images of this amazing place!! Thanks for sharing your journey and have a great time in beautiful Maine!!

  • Litz Go

    Litz Go gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    I love reading your travelog, as always!

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    Three amazing shots, T!! And of course your narrative can't be beat! I believe my parents watched Death Valley Days---of course I was MUCH too young to remember!! I also remember a tin of Boraxo under the sink--great for removing whatever grime was on your hands after a hard day of being a tomboy!! Loved the video, which really brought back some fond memories. And one more thing.......We landed on the moon????????

  • Paperini Renato

    Paperini Renato gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    Breathtaking. Your comment to this photo, made ​​me remember that night of forty years ago, I was home on leave, (I was finishing my military service) and I had to return to the barracks that evening. I started very late, risking an out of hours. I could not tear myself away from the live telecast of the first moon landing. The 'emotion was great, too much to believe in a fiction. The pictures are still beautiful.

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    Great pictures and memories..It is frustrating when film is lost in the mail as that has happened more than once to me also. It makes you wonder where the lost films end up at to be seen never more..There is always the possibility that the lab accidentally wrecked the negatives...Thank goodness for digital photography.

  • Judy and Wayne Wanamaker

    Judy and Wayne Wanamaker gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    Great captures of one of America's most unusual landscapes!

  • je suis moi

    je suis moi gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    The sights you have seen !!!!

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    You've done it again!! Marvelous travelogue and shots, Dick. I well remember Death Valley Days and the 20 Mule Team Borax commercials, all in B& W, of course!

  • Patty Gross

    Patty Gross (Deleted) gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    Your photos of Death Valley are spectacular, Richard!! I was there when I lived in Vegas, and it was quite spectacular!! Your narrative is spectacular too and give us much to ponder. Like those who want to believe we did not go to the moon......rubbish, I say! Of course we went to the moon. Oh well, your photos do show us the desolation and the beauty to be found at this remote part of our country. Very beautifully photographed and described!!!!! Maine, eh? Yippee!!!!!!

  • Suzanne McGeady

    Suzanne McGeady said (18 Jul 2011):

    I never know what to do first, look at collage, or read your narrative. Quick glance, then read, then study images. Wow, this is just amazing. Each vignette a separate story in itself. I was brought up on cowboy books, and Western movies.......such a perfect place to film a western. Yep, just saw John Wayne disppear in the distance. Breathtaking to say the least, Richard. Wow!

  • Debrah Leonard

    Debrah Leonard (Deleted) gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    I would love to see that top photo all by itself . (I remember the day)

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    Very nice to show us death vally!!! Great photo with narration!!! You gave us an oppertunity to learn more and more!!!

  • Carol Holmes

    Carol Holmes gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    This makes me want to travel...all the great places you show us, and your narratives make me feel as you are my tour guide...wished I could of been there to capture some shots! Wonderful collage!

  • elfriede fulda

    elfriede fulda (Deleted) gave props (18 Jul 2011):

    Excellent once again. , well put together, and yes, it sure does look like a moon surface

  • diana a

    diana a gave props (18 Jul 2011):


  • stuart s

    stuart s gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    Thanks for a glimpse of purgatory. Safe travels to Maine.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    Now this is what I call a HOT photo.

  • peggy maguire

    peggy maguire said (19 Jul 2011):

    Wonderful work and story,Love it Dick !!!

  • Lanis Rossi

    Lanis Rossi gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    Super narative and photo my friend!

  • Deborah Downes

    Deborah Downes gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    Another incredible collage and narrative, Dick. Wishing you a safe trip to Maine. Wish I could go with you:)

  • Rajeev Jadhav

    Rajeev Jadhav gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    Your collage are always attractive and pretty !!!!! Every scene is wonderful Richard !!!!!!!

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    So well done as always Dick and thank you for the lesson!

  • Betty Maxey

    Betty Maxey   gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    Your explanations alone conjure up images....then the pics really put it in there! Excellant as always!!

  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    Richard,my grandfather never believed that there was a moon-landing. He told us that we are all crazy if WE believed it. he was quite a character! HA!

  • Shirley Valencia

    Shirley Valencia   said (19 Jul 2011):

    looks like the moon.. All it needs is an American

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon gave props (19 Jul 2011):

    What a day the moon-landing was! My Dad, who was a serious science fiction buff, lived just long enough to witness this impossible feat! It was such a thrill for him, and rermains one of the highlights of my memories of him. What a wonderful collage and dialogue.. always so well written and informative, too!!

  • Steven Schutz

    Steven Schutz gave props (20 Jul 2011):

    The flag did havve a wrinkle in it lie wind was blowing...whats his name puched a guy out for suggesting it was stages...Great shot and pov...Would like to visit this place..

  • Linda Houghton

    Linda Houghton gave props (20 Jul 2011):

    These are awesome images, and you are so right Death Valley is awesome, we have been several times, in fact just this past December.! I love to visit there!

  • Ron LaFond

    Ron LaFond gave props (21 Jul 2011):

    This is so close to home and I've never been there. Thanks for sharing a great set of images, Dick. R

  • Oregon Curly

    Oregon Curly (Deleted) gave props (21 Jul 2011):

    Ditto Suzanne M.! (and all the others praising this one). I recall my grandmother telling me about the tv program. LOL at Susan L. Moon landing .. we'd just arrived in Morocco and our household stuff had not made it there by then. Our neighbors, the only ones in the block that had a tv invited us over to watch the landing even though we didn't (yet) speak Moroccan and they knew no English. Pantomime and a smattering of French carried the night. The broadcast was in Arabic but needed no translation, but they did broadcast live all the transmissions from the mission. What an experience!! A month later (mail was slow) my Dad sent a short note "you won" with a dime in it. I'd bet him many years prior that we'd see a moon landing in our lifetimes. As for mailing off film to be developed - same experience as you, lost. Received someone elses prints though, and they'd photographed a card with their name/address as the first shot, so they eventually got their prints and I started doing that as my first shot on a roll. I used our address instead of theirs though. Keep on having a grand trip!!

  • Nancy Richard

    Nancy Richard gave props (21 Jul 2011):

    You've done it again, Dick....a fabulous collage! Never been to Death Valley, but now you've given me the desire!!!

  • Ann Reece

    Ann Reece gave props (23 Jul 2011):

    What a great collage, video and narrative of your trip into Death Valley. If we ever go there again, it sure won't be in the summer! When we went, as luck would have it, the air conditioner went out on our motor home just before Death Valley - UGH!!! Oh the joys of film ... we had a roll lost also, then I heard about shooting the first photo with our address so I started doing that plus I put the date on it for our records. The worst experience we had with film was in Yellowstone Park the year it was on fire. We were on a touring motorcycle, traveling from our house up into Canada and back - talk about saddle soreness!!! We had many adventures on that trip, among which was getting to ride into Yellowstone Park and watch the firemen fighting the fires, from a distance of course. We were close enough to get good photos of helicopters landing bringing in fresh firemen and taking the ones who needed a rest out and the fires could be seen in the background and planes flying low and dropping water or fire retardant chemicals on the fires. I was shooting photos over Ed's shoulder left and right. I had some really good shots!!! Soon it began to dawn on me that something was wrong, I had shot way more photos than the roll of film could hold. With dread we opened the camera and the roll of film had hung up and never advanced ... so no photos : (. We were sick about it and unhappy with that camera so when we got to a town with a photo shop in it we bought a new camera, one that you could see the film through a window and know that it was advancing like it should.

  • JamesHarmon McQuilkin

    JamesHarmon McQuilkin   gave props (23 Jul 2011):

    I would love to see the top portion of this shot as big as a wall---breathtaking

  • Roxana Brivent-Barnes

    Roxana Brivent-Barnes said (24 Jul 2011):

    Absolutely S T U N N I N G !

  • Debbie Smartt

    Debbie Smartt gave props (24 Jul 2011):

    Out of this world!

  • misha otaared

    misha otaared gave props (25 Jul 2011):

    great assemblage, richard -- such a feeling of sweeping, desolate beauty. and not at all empty -- full of textures and tones

  • Dunja Kolar

    Dunja Kolar gave props (25 Jul 2011):

    great collage

  • Carl Kuntze

    Carl Kuntze gave props (29 Jul 2011):

    Swept through Death Valley during my hitlchhiking days in the early 50's. Before if got into photography. These images are fine remnders.

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (30 Jul 2011):

    great collage

  • Zapata Juan P

    Zapata Juan P   gave props (7 Aug 2011):

    Fantastic images ... and story

  • Adriana Castellanos

    Adriana Castellanos said (8 Aug 2011):

    wonderful !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bruce Miller

    Bruce Miller (Deleted) gave props (10 Aug 2011):

    Nice shots of the valley!

  • Ronnie Ginnever

    Ronnie Ginnever gave props (16 Aug 2011):

    Amazing to look at!

  • dL

    dL (Deleted) gave props (19 Aug 2011):


  • eithne mythen

    eithne mythen gave props (21 Aug 2011):

    Love your perspective on these amazing shots Richard..

  • Merike Mäll

    Merike Mäll gave props (22 Aug 2011):

    väga hea töö

  • Margherita Bettinelli

    Margherita Bettinelli gave props (14 Feb 2012):

    this place is stunning... !

  • Eric Sayah

    Eric Sayah gave props (7 Sep 2012):

    This is awesome!

  • Bruce Wendler

    Bruce Wendler said (5 Feb 2014):

    Been all over death valley, but nothing that I would put on the wall. Had to help a pilot do an emergency landing in it when he had an Crohn's Disease attack. I located an old runway on the map as dusk was coming up. He was out the plane before it stopped. The landing took off the gas we needed to get back to LA. We flew to Bishop because a winter storm was closing everything down. We just made it in when the snow started falling.

  • Richard Knight

    Richard Knight said (7 Feb 2014):

    What an interesting story, Bruce. Thanks.

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