Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Road Trip: Day 5 - Heading Into Death Valley & Ballarat

We started the trip in the desert and then headed along the coast and into Yosemite, which was a welcome reprieve from the arid heat and sun of the desert, but by day five we were back in the desert. That's not to say that I don't love the desert though, because I do. It's still so foreign to me. The landscape just doesn't seem real. This day the heat started to take it's toll. It was so unbelievably hot. It actually reached 117 degrees while we were in Death Valley. You wouldn't think that there would be all that much in a dry and dusty place with temperatures routinely breaking the three digit mark, but there's actually a lot out there. Ghost towns and abandoned ruins litter the area. Small towns scattered here and there. And the occasional random piece of folk art left along the side of the road for all to enjoy.

One such piece of folk art is known as the Fish Rocks. These rocks near Trona, California, were painted sometime back in the 1930s, and over time additional less tasteful graffiti accumulated. Eventually the boy scouts painted the rocks their natural color, covering up the graffiti including the faces. Then, in the 1970s, two young girls repainted the faces on the rocks. They were subsequently arrested for the act of vandalism, but never charged because the residents in nearby Trona were actually quite happy to have their beloved fish back. 

Not too far past Trona, and just outside of the Death Valley National Park limits, lies Ballarat. It's essentially a ghost town now, although it would appear that there are at least one or two inhabitants. A sign posted near the entrance to the town lets visitors know that they can basically do whatever they want here. It's another 'free zone.'  

I'm not entirely sure how much truth there is to this claim, but apparently this truck belonged to Charles Manson, who's former camp, Spahn Ranch, is fairly nearby.

Inside Charlie's sunbaked truck.

The Ballarat Cemetery. 


I'll be honest, the heat and the unrelenting sun, were really killing my desire to take photos. I loved being there and the surroundings were nothing shy of breath taking, but come on! How do people live out here? Of course while I sit here in my tiny Cleveland apartment soaking up as much air conditioning as I can, there is no doubt a huge part of me that would give anything to be back out in the tormenting heat of the desert, traveling aimlessly in a cheap rental car.

Photos taken with a Canon 6D, using a Canon 20mm f/2.8, Canon 135mm f/2.0, and Canon 35mm f/1.4.

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