Location: The Now- Santa Rosa, CA
The Past- Death Valley
The Future- Endless Roads
In spite of the recent wildfires that have taken away so much in my area I have spent the past few weeks looking over my scribbles from my journey to Death Valley. I am overwhelmed by the memories and the sensations that filled me a little over seven months ago when I felt the desert landscape. During these trying times it’s those memories that can give you the absolute strength you need. Those memories when you felt the strength and peace flow within you as you rise from the ashes. Although I did not lose anything I have felt the loss of many. Strangers and friends. And this memory. This moment gives me hope to continue on with them as we will all help rebuild.
I remember entering the valley at 4:50pm on the 22nd of April. The temperature was already resting comfortably at 91 degrees. The showers from winter’s breath brought a great renewal to Death Valley. The super bloom took over the month before as the temperature began to rise. There were still flowers on my arrival. At the Father Crowley Vista Point the cliffs before me possesed a splash of green hues amongst the brown and red rocks. The pyroclastic rock exposed and a variety of other material aid in the reds, grays and pinks. To be honest, if I had not come to know through the arrid view I may have thought I was staring at the cliffs and landscapes on the Isle of Wight.
The panoramic view captured me displaying the wild and desolate landscapes that etched over the Panamint Mountains striding down into Rainbow Canyon and up towards Zabriskie Point which could not be seen with the naked eye. Some of the green grasses remained and the rocky structures were no less than a natural splendor. When the weather was right for it, the green would explode into a whole new reality for the area. Flowers of purples and blues still remained in view as I looked onward towards the white salt flats deeper into Death Valley. This was a sense of renewal. Even the driest moments would not allow for life to stop here. Once a fresh rain came, no matter how long it had been life would erupt once more. Hope still exists here.
There was a monument to one Fr. John J. Crowley, the desert padre for whom this vista point is named. He was a key figure in Owens Valley and a local hero. He was the first priest to celebrate mass on top of Mt. Whitney with his own portable altar standing outside a hut. This was in September of 1934. He was a beacon of hope to the locals in a time when conservation efforts proved futile. This particular vista point displays that sense of renewal. This was not the final stop. But merely a beginning for my adventures on this trip and many more to come.
Father Crowley Overlook April 2017