I made myself take a vacation. No excuses this time. I was in need of a break. The problem was, what to do. I would be traveling alone, but I wasn’t so keen on keeping within driving distance of home. I wanted to escape winter.
I did some internet searching and after a lot of hemming and hawing, I decided to splurge and booked myself on a biking tour of Death Valley. The tour was operated by Backroads. They took care of everything and all I had to do was show up in Las Vegas (with my pedals, shoes and biking gear).
I showed up in Vegas and was whisked away with my 8 other tour mates for this trip. Everyone was lovely, and the guides were awesome. I was the odd man out of the group, but they never made me feel lonely.
The first day we rode to the Mesquite Dunes. It was my first ride on a bike since August. Those 23 miles were rough, but incredibly picturesque.
The second day, I got my tired butt back on the saddle and rode out to Badwater, located 282 feet below sea level. On my way back I decided to give the climb up to Artist’s Palette a try. It was rough. I made part way up before I ran out of gas and walked. I made it up to the top by the time the support van caught up with me. Once we made it back to the main road, I hopped back on the bike and rode the last 8 miles back to the inn. Total ride distance, 32 miles.
Exhausted, we had one more day of biking to go. The third day was going to be a rough one. It involved an 18 mile uphill climb. By mile 1, my legs were crying uncle. At mile 10, when I hit the support van, I was ready to call it quits, but I decided to continue with one of my tourmates. She kept me going those last 8 miles. The van brought us up to the top of Dante’s View, and the view was amazing. Breathtaking really (also it was cold up there). I ate lunch sitting on the pavement ledge and soaked it all in. After lunch, we were driven back to our bikes and road 18 miles downhill back to the inn. The best 18 miles ever.
On our last day we went for a hike in Golden Canyon. To see the rocks up close and climb to see some of the vistas was the perfect way to end a trip to Death Valley.
That afternoon, on our way back to Las Vegas, we made a quick stop at Death Valley Junction. It was previously a ghost town until a woman came through and bought the Amargosa Opera House and restored it. Shows are still performed at this little opera house, and we had an opportunity to learn more about it.
I’m really glad I made myself go on vacation and continue to expand my solo travel horizon. I spent a lot of the time on my bike, alone, away from the others with only an occasional car passing me on the road. That feeling of solitude coupled with the sound of the wind and gentle creek of my bike keeping me company was soothing in an unexplainable way. There is something to be said about the feeling you get when you are alone in the desert. I didn’t think about work, I didn’t think about any of the conflicts I was avoiding or trying to work out in my life. All I kept thinking about was how amazing this was and how lucky I was to be able to experience this, while trying to soak in as much as I could of the majestic views.
This was the trip I needed. I cannot wait for winter to be over, and I can get back on the bike again.
Visit my Flickr page for all the photos I managed to capture on my trip.