Bay Area Wedding Photographer Gabriel Harber » Fun, Artistic, Joyful Photography that is Real and Full of Stories

Masthead header

Another Epic Adventure | Saline Valley Thanksgiving

Some adventures are more epic than others.  Our yearly voyage to Saline Valley Hot Springs in Death Valley tends to rank pretty high on the epic scale.  This year was no exception.

I spent a lot of time driving, cooking, being a dad, and just kicking back and enjoying life.  Somewhere in there I managed to take a few pictures.

For more on our adventure, scroll to the bottom of this post.

2014_Saline_Valley_0001 2014_Saline_Valley_0002 2014_Saline_Valley_0003 2014_Saline_Valley_0004 2014_Saline_Valley_0005 2014_Saline_Valley_0006 2014_Saline_Valley_0007 2014_Saline_Valley_0008 2014_Saline_Valley_0009 2014_Saline_Valley_0010 2014_Saline_Valley_0011 2014_Saline_Valley_0012 2014_Saline_Valley_0013 2014_Saline_Valley_0014 2014_Saline_Valley_0015 2014_Saline_Valley_0016 2014_Saline_Valley_0017 2014_Saline_Valley_0018 2014_Saline_Valley_0019 2014_Saline_Valley_0020 2014_Saline_Valley_0021 2014_Saline_Valley_0022 2014_Saline_Valley_0023 2014_Saline_Valley_0024 2014_Saline_Valley_0025 2014_Saline_Valley_0026 2014_Saline_Valley_0027 2014_Saline_Valley_0028 2014_Saline_Valley_0029 2014_Saline_Valley_0030 2014_Saline_Valley_0031 2014_Saline_Valley_0032 2014_Saline_Valley_0033 2014_Saline_Valley_0034 2014_Saline_Valley_0035 2014_Saline_Valley_0036 2014_Saline_Valley_0037 2014_Saline_Valley_0038 2014_Saline_Valley_0039 2014_Saline_Valley_0040 2014_Saline_Valley_0041 2014_Saline_Valley_0042 2014_Saline_Valley_0043 2014_Saline_Valley_0044 2014_Saline_Valley_0045 2014_Saline_Valley_0046 2014_Saline_Valley_0047 2014_Saline_Valley_0048 2014_Saline_Valley_0049 2014_Saline_Valley_0050 2014_Saline_Valley_0051 2014_Saline_Valley_0052 2014_Saline_Valley_0053 2014_Saline_Valley_0054 2014_Saline_Valley_0055 2014_Saline_Valley_0056

Packing a vehicle with food, water, sleeping and cooking infrastructure, and all other camping accoutrement for a week and a half trip into the desert with two small kids can be a little daunting.  This year, Loretta and I had some kid help from her aunt and her sister which made the packing much easier.  I started cooking about 2 weeks before we left, block froze several meals, and bought snacks and other food stuff for an army.  We got under way in record time and with relative ease.  The gravitational pull of one’s home can be awfully strong, but we somehow escaped its pull with our happy little circus of misfits.

We were driving along toward Bishop, CA, and right around dusk a deer appeared in our path.  I pressed hard on the brakes of our overladen van, and it slowed sharply.  The deer just kind of stared at us and finally moved seconds before we would have crossed paths.  I thought that would be the big story of our ride in.  Ha.  If only.  About 100 miles outside on Bishop, while crawling up a steep grade shortly after sunset, our van made a funny noise and lost power.  I pulled over and my eyes darted to the temperature gauge.  I watched as the needle slowly moved toward the red, and listened as the coolant in the engine boiled.  The thermostat needle got about three-quarters up and held tight.  It was really cold, dark, and windy outside.  I got out of the van and did an inspection.  About 1/2 a cup of coolant had boiled over.  I crawled under the van and found that part of the fiberglass heat shielding was smoldering.  Since my spray bottle was buried deep in the nether reaches of our stuff, I decided to fill my mouth with water and act as a human fire extinguisher.  Brilliant.  Surprisingly, this worked.  We were all in a bit of shock and decided let the van cool down, sit for a bit, and watch some of a movie that Loretta had on her tablet.  After about 15 minutes, I figured we should probably come up with a plan.  And then a Sheriff car pulled up.  Freezing and under the beam of his spotlight, I was alerted to the fact that my registration was expired and that our van could be impounded.  After he checked all my info, he told me that we were almost to the top of the steep hill we had been climbing and gave me the number of a local tow company.  The Sheriff left us and said that if we were still there when he came back through that he would give us a hand.  We decided to press on and see if we could limp our way into Bishop.

The shock of our compromized van faded with each mile we drove.  We were able to drive.  The engine temperature stayed well within reasonable levels, and besides for not being able to drive very fast, we managed to make it over a couple of steep grades without issue.  We arrived in Bishop, and were welcomed by our friends.  They had food waiting for us, a cozy bed, and a warm house.  We were glad we had pressed on.  The next day we rented a truck, transferred our gear, and enjoyed the day and the good company.  Our journey had only been delayed a bit, and once we got under way, the drive into Saline Valley was uneventful.  A detour to the salt flats made for a fun first stop in the valley, and it was very nice arriving and setting up camp with plenty of daylight.  We spent the next week and change eating, drinking, soaking, reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and generally enjoy ourselves.  Ellis would wake me up in the morning and say, “hey, dad, wanna go soak,” and then “I’m hungry, can I have some cereal.”  We managed one hike.  Ellis somehow walked 9 miles on his own.  What a trooper.  We weathered one wind storm.  We shared Thanksgiving supper with about 200 people and headed home the day after.  Two tows got us over the passes and I drove the van the final bit while our good friend, Alex, took Loretta and the kids home in his car.  Another great adventure.

  • Theresa - What wonderful pictures!! I can’t believe how big your kiddos are! Best, TDecember 17, 2014 – 3:57 pm

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *