After Joshua Tree we kept driving west and ended up in Los Angeles, visiting my good friend Tony and his partner Lily. I've been friends with Tony for at least 20 years and he's one of the coolest dudes I've ever known. He's my brother, someone with whom I've had a lot of fun and meaningful experiences. We've always been there for each other and we've developed a great bond despite the geographical distance. We hung out, went out for great food on the town, and luxuriated (and bathed) in his lovely house after 2 weeks of nonstop camping.
On Monday we left for Death Valley, which is said to be one of the driest, hottest and most inhospitable places on earth. We camped (for free!) on some nice BLM land just outside the western edge of the Death Valley National Park - forget trying to camp inside the park, it is packed and the campgrounds are kind of gross. As it was we had a rather immense space mostly to ourselves with a great view (see pics below). I recommend making the crazy drive up to Dante's lookout, hiking the Mesquite Dunes, napping in the shade of a cool pine tree in Furnace Springs, seeing the Badwater salt flats, and checking out the "Devil's golf course".
This morning we left Death Valley and drove to Las Vegas. Yuck. What a gaudy, gross city. It's got some interesting attractions, to be sure - it's just that the overall energy of the place is not terribly appealing when you contrast it to what we've been experiencing. So we stopped briefly to buy some supplies at Trader Joe's (I highly recommend Trader Joe's for camping groceries and quality foods), a free wifi stop at Walmart, the worst tacos ever (everywhere else has been stellar) and a quick drive down the main strip. I liked the replica Eiffel Tower, Ceasar's Palace and the Luxor, with its pyramid and sphinx - otherwise you stink, Las Vegas!
We kept driving. And driving... until we discovered a really awesome place with some camping areas on BLM land shortly after crossing over into Arizona. I think it is called Virgin River, and I am writing these words from here now. We are camped beside a beautiful mountain with a river at its base. The stars are coming out after a great sunset. We made some dumplings and had some excellent wine (see pic) we got at Trader Joe's for $5.95! Yum yum yum.
Time for bed. Good night all!