This may be my favorite photo from our Saline Valley 2012 trip. Here you see Orion rising over the Dry Mountain range. The black mass on the right is a lava flow, slowly crumbling and washing via alluvial fans into the basin that hosts Warm Springs, our camp for four days a year.
This year’s trip was very different from the last. I’d a really good idea of what obstacles we’d face–be it 4x4ing, water, food, or emergency beacon requirements. I’d beefed up the truck with an Old Man Emu heavy lift kit and added an ARB bull bar bumper from hell along with a nice winch. We could probably get out of most hang ups in the desert barring catastrophic drive train failure. In 2011, I’d listened to all kinds of stories about Steel Pass and Lippincott. People liked to make them sound impassable and treacherous, and as they talked, I was thinking the difficulty of these passes were overblown. After driving them, I’d say I was correct; however, they were difficult in spots. I think my childhood spent driving John Deere 8850s with massive implements attached provided me with all the knowledge and experience needed to drive over any terrain given the right equipment.
This year, the hardest part was having the patience to drive all the way around Death Valley and enter from the East due to all of the roads from the West washed out and closed at Scotty’s Castle. Death Valley road was impassable. Or, so they said. We didn’t find out, but rather took a long loop around the valley, into Nevada, and through some barren desert only to enter back into the East side of Death Valley. Everyone except for Steph slept through the drive.
Nice for me. I love that part of the world. You can drive for an hour and not see another soul. The roads seem alien when layered upon the terrain.
As I said, this year’s trip was very different. We were a different family, really. We’d been through so much more. More work. More school. More stress. More hurt. And, most important: More healing. I say healing because a lot of what we’ve been through in the last six years has been traumatic and much of the year was a time of healing from it. Most of it my fault–both the trauma and the healing. Most if it caused by my relentless quest to secure our stability, our financial success, and the success of the Mozilla project. This is a hard three way balancing act. Mix in a constantly shifting landscape of personalities and individuals who sometimes lack integrity and you will find me often pushing my engines at red line to overcome all that threatens us.
In 2012 we faced less than ideal schools. Less than ideal work politics (what a waste of time). Less than ideal family concerns. All of which were overcome. Now the boys are in a school (albeit one that is learning from us as much as we are from them) that is actually working–for a the foreseeable future. I’ve lowered demands on the home generated from work to a dull buzz. Enough of that shit. And, we’ve all learned that we must create an environment of peace in the home. It’s quite possible peace is the most important component of a happy family. Steph and I repaired ourselves and now are systematically creating the home we both want. It’s healthy and timely.
Even more timely is Steph’s ever revealing creativity. It’s on an upsurge lately, and it’s refreshing. It’s one of the reasons she’s my soul mate and closest adviser. I rely on her for both her creativity and brutal honesty. It pushes me forward.
The photo above embodies the glory of our change this year. Stephanie was inside the tent when I took this and she, and the rest of my family, was on my mind when I triggered the shutter. While the photons flowed into the emulsion during the seconds after I pressed the button, I stood there listening to them breathing and watching the stars imperceptibly moving throughout the exposure.
Great post, Damon. I feel myself pushing the engines to red line lately, good to read your post and see you on the other side, gives me hope and inspiration. Thanks.