Death Valley April, 2018 My friend Bernd had never been, and it was springtime. So off we went.

We had just ten days to run from southeastern British Columbia to Death Valley and back, so we didn't spare the ponies. Traction here in Oregon on day two was near-zero. Silly us, we pressed on.

Following an excellent overnight in the parking lot of a former Denny's in downtown Winnemucca, we stopped near Battle Mountain to enjoy the ever-increasing temperatures. Here begins NV 305, one of my favourite ways to cross Nevada north to south. Bernd checks our location with the map atlas.

NV 305 traverses one of what I like to call "The Long Valleys". The basin and range area of central Nevada never fails to stir the wanderlust in me.

Bernd's Nissan camper arrives, near empty, at Crescent Valley.

Disregarding my advice to fuel up frequently, Bernd was forced to utilize this inauspicious enterprise. Frito and I averted our eyes as he filled up.

These accommodations at the fuel stop appeared to offer satellite TV. I'm not sure what the far distant roof antenna is for. Perhaps to monitor alien overflights.

We saw no customers at this nearby holiday playground .

The Sierra Nevada from CA 167, just west of the Calfornia line. We intended stopping at Bodie, a ghost town/state park nearby, but it was still closed by snowdrifts, so we elected to spend the night along the north shore of Mono Lake.

CA 120 runs around the south shore of Mono Lake, a marvelously scenic and, on this day virtually empty bit of highway. The snow had only recently cleared this area and we were among the first travelers to pass through this spring. Lucky us.

Mono Lake is an often-overlooked scenic delight of the eastern Sierra.

Benton Hot Springs offered us a break from driving and some fun photo-ops among the old vehicles stored along the roadway.

Bullet holes. Always the bullet holes.

I believe that, in some engines, those little white things are for some reason necessary for combustion.

A couple of days ago, icy roads. Now, this. Excellent.

We greeted the dawn at Zabriskie Point. It's a favourite for photographers and I always stop there to partake of the scenery and the inevitable photo-socializing.

Twenty Mule Team Canyon, just east of Zabriskie Point. A perfect boondocking spot if ever there was one. Unfortunately, boondocking is forbidden here. Elsewhere in the park, if you're respectful, you can and I have.

We greeted this guy, a desert rat if ever I've met one. Entirely self sufficient and of no fixed address, he usually tows this unit behind his motorhome, which he'd left in Beatty for this trip into Death Valley. Check out the desert lighting install.

He spent quit a bit of time inspecting Frito.

A day or so later found us at one of my favourite locations on the planet: Eureka Dunes.

There, we met up with a couple of long-time friends from Los Angeles and we camped next to the dunes with The Last Chance Range as our backdrop.

Hiking up the dunes is exhausting. Descending them is exhilarating. John makes short work of returning to camp for an ice cold beer.

John's dad, Tim returns from an excursion around the playa. Unaccountably, Tim rode a bicycle from Washington State back to Los Angeles. Here's where my soon-to-arrive fat tire E-bike is gonna shine.

Military jets are a common sight around Death Valley in spring. These guys gave us a treat as they circled the dunes. F-22's I believe. Correction welcomed.

F-18 aircraft are a common sight, too. A pair of these made two passes directly over my campsite.

Evenings at Eureka Dunes are magical. If the winds are calm, you experience absolute silence. You can hear your own pulse.

Above our campsite, I await the changing light on the dunes. The Last Chance Range is footed by alluvial fans that form bajadas. Paved with multi-coloured rock eroded from above, they are a delight to explore. The campsite is at extreme right.

The road to Eureka Dunes is rough, short and slow. Less than ten miles from pavement, it always takes me over an hour to arrive at the campsite at lower right. A single vault toilet and a few concrete picnic tables are the only services.

The next morning as we departed the dunes we discovered this "incident". With my snatch strap and Bernd's 4WD, we recovered the SUV, victim of the driver falling asleep at the wheel. With suspension damage and all the airbags deployed, the Toyota was a write-off. No injuries, other than an intense wallet flush.

"We got us a Convoy!" Northbound on US 95, we stopped for lunch and I photographed these boys on their way back south for another load of vegetables for us poor sods in the Great White North.

We were back in BC in eleven days. It was a superb, if short, run. Frito and I never run out of excuses to visit the desert.

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