Guest: Dirtbags Cross the Valley of Death

By Natalia Dutt
on Jul 30, 2019

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Photo credit:
Pacific Ocean

Guest contributor Natalia Dutt from The Adventures of a Nomad.

Have you ever found yourself waking up every morning, poking your head out of a dewy tent, ready to greet the day for whatever adventure awaits with whatever warm beer you find in car. This is that type of story -- a story full of chasing the horizon and letting the adventure find you rather than seeking it. After an eight day shift working in wilderness therapy, a boy and I packed up the classic dirtbag car, a Subaru Outback covered in stickers documenting many adventures, and headed out towards Zion.

There was limited planning, but California was the destination of this six day off shift. After a five hour drive, the sun began to set and a search for a place to lay our heads that night began. Turning down a dirt road to nowhere, here it was.

Photo credit:
Death Valley

Immediately, our giddiness ramped up. A song to light up the night played as we jumped out of the car and danced our hearts out while setting up camp. The tent was covered in fairy lights, the fire was raging, and the beer was only slightly warm. A cosier home could not be found.

The next morning, we groggily poked our heads out of the tent and began the trek towards Angel’s Landing, a classic trail up steep rocks suitable for a billy goat. Thanks to chains strapped to the side of the rocks, it seems slightly less terrifying. You feel on top of the world at its peak. Figuring out where to head next, we opted to follow the sun, which meant Death Valley National Park, the hottest and biggest national park in the lower 48 states. We soon found ourselves near Las Vegas with no gas. I look over to the driver side of the car and all he could do was grin, “we’ll make it, I’m sure of it,” he said in an unconvincing manner.

Photo credit:
Angels Landing

Driving down a road with no final destination, the sun setting and exhaustion setting in. It was time to stop. After a night at a campsite out of a horror film, but fortunately no aliens, we found ourselves in Death Valley. We walked for what seemed like hours in the vast “badwaters,” the lowest point below sea level in the US. This park is the national park for misfit toys, its outlandishness bringing our group of two to laughter.

Saying goodbye to Death Valley via a ghost town, we set off for California. A day’s drive from the Valley dead ends into the ocean. The Pacific sat before us as a beacon, the marker that soon our road trip would be complete. With the biggest smile on our face, the windows rolled down to smell the salty air, music to fill the air feeling fully alive, we arrived. Dipping my toes into the water made the weird, rainy road trip fully worth it.

It was four days driving from the desert to the ocean, awaking each morning not sure what to expect. Existing off of warm beer and hummus, cooking breakfast in a parking lot near Venice Beach, knowing it was time to head back to our desert home. The next adventure was only an eight day shift away.

For more from Natalia Dutt check out The Adventures of a Nomad.

By Natalia Dutt
on Jul 30, 2019

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