DEATH VALLEY, CA – I think I’ve figured out something about myself. Over the years I’ve really prided myself on getting shit done. Goal oriented would be a fair statement about my personality. Whether job performance or solving a problem, I’ve never found much satisfaction in trying yet never meeting the goal. Give me a computer with problems and I will spend every frustrating moment I have until it is solved. Just to be clear, I don’t enjoy the efforts required to solve the problem, I only enjoy it when the problem is solved. And the level of satisfaction I get from having the task resolved nowhere matches the cussing and bitching that was encountered to get to a point of resolution. So it was getting to Death Valley.

Keep in mind, this story really doesn’t differ from the many other times I’ve headed somewhere with camping as part of the goal. Before I picked up the van, I’d made plans to drive to Death Valley the first night and stay there. While at the dealership they offered me a free camp space at a local campground so that I could stay and familiarize myself with the van and ask any questions I might have the next day before hitting the road. They said that people often stay a couple of days.

Now let’s be honest, camping in Las Vegas proper just doesn’t sound fun. I mean, if I’m going to stay in Vegas, its gonna be hookers and blow. Ok, maybe gambling and strippers. Ok, maybe just blackjack and “free” cocktails. But as I sat there with my head spinning after a three-hour run-through of all of the features and critical operational requirements of this Leisure Travel Free Spirit Mercedes Sprinter Van that somehow now seemed more complicated than its name is long, I decided to make a reservation at the campground.

“Maybe insuring that you know how to dump the human waste out of the bottom of your van is a good thing to have a firm handle on,” I thought to myself. The vague recollection of Chevy Chase and Robin William’s movies kept flashing through my brain.

I left the dealer and headed out to hit the airport, Target and REI as chronicled in the previous post. Finding myself in late-afternoon traffic and a simple exit off the freeway in sight to get me headed towards Death Valley, I made a decision and headed West. I had no idea where the campground was, but the road to Death Valley was right here!

So I made a call to Daryl at Wagon Trail RV and said, “Cancel the reservation, I’m on the road. I’ll call you tomorrow if I have an issues.” It was about 3:30 in the afternoon.

Now here’s where my stubbornness, task oriented personality sometimes doesn’t serve me. Do you know what time it gets dark in Las Vegas this time of year? Well I didn’t. As I headed down the highway westward, it started to get pretty dark. By 4:40 pm it was night. I mean, dark. By 5 pm, stars out. Lights on bright. Dark.

Headed towards Death Valley, CA from Las Vegas at 4:20 pm.

Headed towards Death Valley, CA from Las Vegas at 4:20 pm.

Death Valley is about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Las Vegas and by God I was going to get there tonight. On a basically straight road with darkness as my scenery I drove and drove in my new van until I hit Furnace Creek. In my headlights I saw a sign that said “Texas Spring Campground.”

“Texas Spring, hmm, well I’m from Texas so this must be where I’m supposed to stay.”

I’m not really much a believer of signs, but it made for a good rationalization.

With that I pulled up to the automated kiosk and paid $14 for a camp spot and lumbered into the campground. It was cold and most campers were in with lights out for the evening already. It was after 7 pm and dark after all.

I saw what looked like a flat area with a picnic table, pulled in made my bed and called it a night.

This story has been such an habitual way of camping for me that I’ve become accustom to the excitement of seeing what it is going to look like when I wake up in the morning. It happened in Canyonlands, The Grand Canyon and a multitude of places where I was just car camping. I seem to have this desire to just drive and drive till I get as close to my destination possible without passing out.

The morning view from the van window at Texas Springs Campground, Death Valley, CA

The morning view from the van window at Texas Springs Campground, Death Valley, CA

“So what?” I sometimes think. The problem is that I think I’ve really stopped enjoying the journey. I know it is cliché to not enjoy the journey as you look for the destination, but like a computer problem, I will choose to suffer until the drive is completed. Blasting past interesting things in the dark.

With this van I’m gonna start enjoying the journey. I can sleep almost anywhere in it, I don’t need to stop at convince stores for a beverage or bathroom break. I carry it all with me. My dog Charlie will certainly relish the grass of a rest stop more than the concrete of a parking lot.

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No, there’s no need to rush. No need to drive past the things that interest me. Life should be about the journey and not the destination, as is often said. And really, I should let people who actually like working on computer problems fix them.

 

Good to know!

Good to know!