The Neverending Story

Here we go…

  • Last week of school ✅
  • Animals to the parents ✅
  • Flight cancelled by airline (less than 24 hours before takeoff) for the second time but rebooked ✅
  • Packed/ get to airport on time for flight ✅
  • Check in…

Man, it was A DAY. Dad was lovely and walked into the airport with me to hang out while I checked in my bag before heading out South. Turns out, when I went to scan my ticket for my bag, my flight was cancelled for THE THIRD TIME and only an hour before takeoff. All flights were booked/ booking quickly around me and everything they offered was now going to get me there Sunday afternoon… over 24 hours after my original flight’s arrival time.

Background information: We have planned this thing to the T. I’m telling you- color coded, crime scene board kind of planned. Originally slated for my spring break (pushed back for her surgery) but moved to the week after I got out of school. We have a whole google map with all of our destinations, travel estimations, etc. We also have a multi-sheet google excel with itinerary, hikes, time frames, stops, packing sheets… you name it, it’s there. Despite what it sounds like, we did leave room for flexibility because, over the past two years, we have learned that it’s much better to roll with the punches. However, 24 hours… eek.

Proof.

ANYWAY.

Long stressful story short, and with no help from You-know-who (you are) the airline who must not be named, Southwest Airlines came in like a knight in shining armor with a last minute (expensive, woof) ticket that would at least get me there that night. [So what started with a 1:00pm arrival now turned into a 9:20pm arrival.] Then once I hit Atlanta that 9:20 turned to 11:00. Luckily, McAllister is set with her flights and has 0 trouble… must be nice living that good life.

We are all good, Vegas will still be lit, and stars will still be out. So just going with it.

It didn’t feel real when I finally left. Sat by some very nice, very loud, jiu-jitsu people on their way home from a tournament. So getting any sleep was off the table, but one did save me some snacks when I was pretending and those are the best kind of people. [Sidenote: you know how once you put your phone in airplane mode the time and weather doesn’t change from that timezone until taken off at destination?? Well, mine kept changing. I was going mad and was absolutely positive I hit a time-warp. It would be 10:00 forever.]

Landing in Vegas was cool because you could see the strip lit up as you were coming down/ on the runway. Being as amazing as she is, McAllister picked me up at the airport and, after gathering my bag, promptly took me to In-N-Out for some much needed nourishment before heading to Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley National Park – Where art thou, C-3PO?

We found our way finally making it to the park around 3:00am our time… (6am EST.) Boy, it is OUT THERE. I mean we knew it, but wow.

It was honestly like being on another planet. [I can see why they chose it for some Star Wars scenes!] The white rocks/sand were perfectly reflecting the moon making it surprisingly well lit and easy to maneuver. However, we quickly realized we missed a crucial planning point… a physical map. No phone service, a confusing park entrance map, and very limited signs, (and our gas tank now being less than half) made us feel a little unprepared as we entered the park. [I would like to petition for increased park signage!]

Did it make us ponder? Yes. Did we ever consider it to not be a great idea? Also yes. Did it stop us? Yea.. not so much.

Back to being a different planet: In addition to the terrain, there were no animals to be seen, and the silence was ear-ringing deafening silence. One of the main reasons why we wanted to see Death Valley was for stargazing, and it did not disappoint. It was a little hazy, but surreal all the same.

Just out here rocking the silver leg like C-3PO

After some photos, (MC forgot the tripod at our AirBnB so shoutout to sqashmallow and suitcase for being the real photography MVPS) we were soaking in everything we could and I felt my phone buzz. It was 4:15 in the morning and I looked at McAllister wondering who in the world could be texting at this ungodly hour.. it was Kristen and also 7:15 in the morning which makes more sense (or does it?) Thankful to the wakeup call of what hour it was, we popped back in the car, crossed our fingers that gas would last until we got to our AirBNB (spoiler- it did,) and drove back as the sunrise began to peep over the mountains. I definitely fought a losing battle of keeping my eyes open while MC was a champ driving.

It was time for us to sleep with the fishies. (There was a cool Koi pond at our place, no murders this night.) We took quick showers and hit the bed for 3 hours, it was going to be a long (real) day one on Sunday!

Koi, not murder

A little extra insight/ thoughts:

  • If you were curious, like us, the ground is much more solid than originally expected… we had in our minds more sand than rock
  • Death Valley needs more friendly, simple, direct maps… the one there is like a maze and very confusing when trying to decipher for some people who have been up way too long (heard it from a friend 👀)
  • There is a hotel in the middle that is beautiful, very Hollywood, and very much like a mirage to un-expecting visitors.

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