Once again, the crinkling plastic water bottle alerted me to my change in elevation. My car shuddered, responding to the huge gusts of winds, and I felt my MyPod oscillate behind me as I began my slow ascent out of the Valley.
I was in for a wild ride – 30 miles of road, wind, and low visibility. I kept my thoughts favorable: there was a hotel close by, where I was hoping to stay for the night.
I let out a sigh of relief when I spotted a long white motel-looking building in the distance. I pulled up close so the wind would be slightly buffered as I checked in. I sprinted to the door, accidentally flinging it open so a gust caught it. “Sorry,” I said to the lady at the front desk.
My heart sank as I looked around. The waiting room was full of weary travelers. It was a shot in the dark, but I asked, “Do you happen to have any rooms available for tonight?”
“Sorry hon, nothing left.”
I stood in place for about a minute, gathering my thoughts and stirring up my fortitude for more driving. I knew that there were more small towns in the near proximity, but my best bet might by Pahrump (yep, that’s a real name), which was another good 45 minutes away.
As I ran back to my car, I spotted others parking and gathering their things to check in. “Just so you know, there’s no more rooms for tonight,” I shouted over the racket of the wind. I could tell that neither the young couple nor the father standing by the mini van heard me. “No more room,” I yelled. Both parties gave a nod of thanks and ran back to their vehicles. Everyone and his brother were trying to find a safe, quiet place to settle down for the night. It was survival of the fittest, but, unfortunately, I was at a disadvantage having to lug an extra 550 lbs behind me.*
When I pulled up over a set of mountains, I began to check my phone for signal every 5 minutes or so. Pahrump was close, and I was intent on calling up a hotel rather than simply showing up.
Holiday Inn – no vacancies
Best Western – no room at the inn
And so on and so forth. I called five places, before the fifth one kindly explained that the whole entire city was booked up. “You’ll have to go to Vegas, sweetheart.”
I forlornly pulled over, filled up with gas, and heated up some food for dinner.
I would be returning to Vegas with my tail between my legs. Death Valley ate me up and spit me back out. Checking my phone, I noticed that the next day was slated to be almost as miserable weather-wise.
Once I secured an Airbnb, I hopped in my car for another hour-long ride. I was exhausted. There was grit in my ears, nose, eyes, shorts, shirt, and shoes. My poor car had a thin layer of grime over everything in the front seat. Despite the craziness of my day, I smiled as I listened to music and headed eastward to Sin City. Though days like these aren’t the most fun, they certainly are memorable. I would have much rather spent a long, fabulous day enjoying the sights and wonders of Death Valley National Park, yet there was something invigorating about my wind/dust storm adventure. When hit with obstacles, we can choose our response; I have found that optimism is always the best way to go.
Two days later I returned to the Valley. It was a gorgeous day with perfect (hot) weather. Death Valley: redeemed.
*Clarence, I have no problem with your weight, but at this point in time, I felt like it was a slight inconvenience.