A recent chain of events (a record-breaking polar vortex which led to a four-day school cancellation which led to a reorganization of the photo cupboard) brought to light a long-forgotten photo album of our first Southwest road trip.  Turns out the husband and I (but mostly the husband – you’ll see his massive camera in several photos in this series) took more and better photos back then than we did on a similar road trip last summer, and I thought I would share some of them with you in a series entitled “A Photo Journey.”  I hope you enjoy them, and even more, I hope they inspire you to travel.

Recently I did something I almost never do.  I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill.  (What drove me to this madness, you ask, incredulous?  Well it seems that, ’round here, some people think that if a snowstorm occurs in mid-April, they are exempt from shoveling the sidewalk.  I beg to differ.)

Anyway, bored but held captive by the lumbering conveyor belt beneath my feet, my eyes flickered over the half dozen TVs mounted to the ceiling in front of me, eventually coming to rest on a commercial (specially curated for gym rats) for a yoga mat.  In the ad, a text fade-in touted the mat as “legendary.”  Seriously?  Legendary?  As in, the stuff of legends?  I think not.  It’s a yoga mat.

These days, marketers, advertisers, and even mom-and-pop shops often use over-the-top words to describe their rather mundane products.  In northern Minnesota there is a pie shop called Betty’s Pies.  The owner – presumably Betty – proclaims it to be world famous.  Have you heard of it?  I didn’t think so.

Related image
I’ve had their pie.  Good?  Yes.  World famous?  I doubt it.  Source: bettyspies.com

To my way of thinking, words like legendary, iconic, epic, and world famous should be reserved for products, events, and places that truly deserve them.

Places like Death Valley.

Death Valley 6

Is it legendary?  Sure.  According to our Explorer’s Guide to Death Valley National Park, there is a legend about $2,500 in gold coins buried by some prospectors from Georgia.  Naturally, it’s never been found.  Even the naming of the park is disputed.  It’s said that “… somebody turned around at the last view and said, ‘Goodbye Death Valley.'”  The question is, which person attempting to escape the valley in the 1800s was it?

Death Valley 4

To be sure, it’s big.  Vast.  Extensive.  Expansive.

Death Valley 16
The largest national park in the contiguous 48 states, Death Valley is the size of Connecticut.

It’s dry.  Parched.  Arid.  Sere.

Death Valley 7

It’s flat.  Pancake flat in places.

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It’s desolate.  Empty.  Bare.  Vacuous.

Death Valley 11

It’s hot.  Blazing.  Searing.  Scorching.

Death Valley 17
The husband suffers for his shot.  The air temperature was 122 degrees F on this day.  That means the ground temperature was… I dunno.  Hot.  Very, very hot.

It’s sandy.  Gritty.  Arenaceous.  (Yeah, OK, I looked that one up.)

It’s low.  Sunken.  Depressed.

Death Valley Badwater Basin 1Death Valley Badwater Basin 3

It’s otherworldly.  Ethereal.  Transcendental.

Death Valley 12

Death Valley Devil's Golfcourse 1
The husband’s uncle, picking his way over what looks like a lunar surface.

Is it world famous?  I don’t know.  Maybe not Grand Canyon famous or Pyramids of Giza famous or Great Wall famous, but perhaps it should be.  It’s definitely special.  Undeniably unique.

Death Valley Sunset 2
Death Valley approaching the gloaming

I recommend you make plans to head out to Death Valley, armed with this boatload (Plethora.  Abundance.) of adjectives, and see if they don’t ring true.  In the meantime, let’s all commit to using arenaceous in three different sentences this week.  Good luck and let me know how it goes!

This post is dedicated to la cathédrale du Notre Dame de Paris, an edifice worthy of the terms epic, iconic, legendary, world famous, and so many more.

Posts in the A Photo Journey series:

52 thoughts

  1. Great photos! I always laugh at restaurants in small towns that have a sign proclaiming that they are “world famous” when most of the world probably hasn’t even heard of the town let alone the restaurant. I do want to go to Death Valley sometime, however.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe it is iconic, legendary, famous from all its roles in movies and documentaries?? It certainly is on my radar and I live on the other side of the World. It’s amazing how something so desolate and harsh can still be incredibly beautiful. Where to next? Mel

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. I never even considered movies filmed there. You inspired me to do a little searching and it looks like several were filmed there, at least in part, including Spartacus, some of the Star Wars movies, Nat’l Lampoon’s Vacation, and several others.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Arenaceous and sere are new words for me. I’ll be sure to get those worked into a few sentences this week. Death Valley probably isn’t world famous but that is okay – there are fewer crowds than Yosemite and the Grand Canyon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Always great to discover old photos out of the blue and it can be a trip down memory lane looking at what you took on your camera. These are some lovely shots of the Death Valley, and the words, parched, arid and arenaceous really are apt words here (I had to look up arenaceous too!). Looking at these photos I’d say this place is a special place – expanse, quiet, peaceful, lots of light in the day, quite a few hikes along the way too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. No thanks, I’ll pass. I’m sick to death of deserts (pun intended).
    I like the scene in Elf when Buddy the Elf walks by a coffee shop in NYC bearing a neon sign that says “World’s Best Cup of Coffee”. He runs in, big grin on his face and shouts, “You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job everybody! Great to meet you.”
    That’s my 2 cents.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Arenaceous is a righteous, world class word; gladiatorial. Are we not entertained? Yes we are. “Gloaming”… meh. I never glommed onto it.

    As prep for the next time you go to Zabriskie Point, you could watch “Zabriskie Point”.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such an entertaining post, and beautiful photos too!!! We visited DV in October, supposedly not busy season yet. Wrong! We couldn’t even get in the lot for Badwater Basin. But otherwise it wasn’t too bad, and we got to see as much as one could in 6 hours. It was really windy during our visit, so dust obscured the vistas, a bit of a bummer. Our last stop was Zabriskie Point, which was the other super-crowded area, but it was mesmerizing – probably my favorite part of the park that we saw that day. I wish we’d had time to hike there, through Golden Canyon.

    It wasn’t crazy hot (around 90-95 if I recall correctly), but still too hot and sunny for an afternoon hike, plus we had to get to San Diego that night. My husband – a heartier sort than me – wanted to run a “Death Valley Mile”, but he said that if it wasn’t 100 degrees out, there’s nothing notable about it, ha! I will definitely be back one day, and if I have my way, in the wintertime. The hubs will have to wait one more trip for that Death Valley mile!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my! I can’t even imagine! He’s not a marathon runner, but he’s the kind of person that – if I told him about the Badwater Ultramarathon he might just make it a life goal, haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, and I agree: superlatives should be reserved for places and things that have truly earned them. Reminds me of the movie “Elf” when naive Buddy stops by the coffeeshop in New York City and loudly congratulates them (“You did it!!”) because of their “World’s Best Coffee” sign out front. I have also teasingly taken friends to task when they talk about how “my sister made her famous cheesecake last night.” If it’s so famous, why haven’t I heard of your sister’s cheesecake??

    People are funny and language, even funnier. I’d be lucky to use arenaceous in a sentence even once this week.

    Well. I guess I just did! 🙂


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