With our car packed to the brim, we both felt excited and ready to start our drive up to Death Valley National Park. Google Maps brought us right up to the “official” park entrance, and as we looked around for a sign pointing us in the right direction towards our campground, we both realized that we should have routed ourselves directly there.
Seeing as we were in the middle of a very large desert, technological support was no longer an option. So relying simply on our sense of direction, and the Park signs (just like in the “olden days”) (which really wasn’t that long ago by the way), we started the surprisingly long drive to the Texas Springs Campground.
What was somewhere between an hour and a half to two hours later (yes, this park is HUGE), we arrived and found ourselves very lucky to be grabbing one of the last campsites for the night. With the better part of the day already behind us, we decided that setting up camp, starting a fire, and pouring a glass of wine was our best plan of action. But it’s like they say, “man plans, and God laughs.”
As we were wrangling with our tent to get it set up, it hit us both. It was pretty dang windy. But we didn’t think too much of it, and so we decided to start our fire for the night. But hey, it was also apparently too windy to get the firestarter going enough to light the logs on fire. So we moved onto other tasks, and we set up our camping chairs and table. . .which all immediately blew over. And then our tablecloth, which had been clamped down with 10 (yes, 10) tablecloth clips and a pile of rocks, was suddenly whipping in the wind, perilously close to blowing away. Nothing could be left on its own. Absolutely nothing.
But we were both committed to making the most of it. So we cooked our hotdogs over the heat of the firestarters (which I honestly would not recommend), and then Ryan thoughtfully wiped off the “smoke”. After our windswept dinner, we quickly roasted marshmallows, feeling grateful that they at least stuck to the roasting sticks like glue. And then after what felt like hours of fighting with the wind, we decided to just call it quits and head to bed.
We packed everything back into our car (which was most definitely not the plan), and we crawled into our tent, feeling slightly defeated and worn out. Just as Ryan turned off our little tent light, everything became still. The winds had essentially stopped. We both took deep breaths, and felt relieved that at least we would be able to get a peaceful night’s sleep.
But approximately two minutes later (or potentially less), such a large gust of wind blew through the campground, that we found ourselves literally holding up our tent to keep it from collapsing on top of us, while simultaneously trying to wipe the sand and dust out of our eyes. And that was pretty much how the rest of our night went. Between holding up our tent, Ryan running out of the tent to put extra rocks on things, having our neighbor’s chair blow into our tent, hearing the wind violently whip through constantly, and eating a delightful midnight snack of dust. . .a “peaceful night’s sleep” wasn’t exactly what we got.
The next morning while we were planning out our time at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center (and honestly, just trying to escape the wind for a few minutes), one of the rangers confirmed what we already knew was a rough night. 50 mph winds. Yep, 50. And so there it was. We were definitely in Death Valley.