1200 Miles Through the California Desert
Cold meals, long roads, and endless alien landscapes make this perfectly imperfect road trip one for the books
Canon F-1N, Canon AE-1
Ilford HP5, Kodak Kodacolor 200
Living in Northern California, my friends and I have had our fair share of coastlines, mountains, and snow, so we wanted to see something new—the desert.
My good friend and fellow photographer, Bailey Diemer, and I loaded up his Toyota 4Runner and hit the road, heading east with a rough schedule and an approximate timeline.
Our first stop was Mammoth Lakes for a quick bath in a hot spring before continuing the drive to Alabama Hills where we would camp that night. We found a nice spot, set up our tent, and got out everything we needed to cook dinner … except one important item. We had left our camping grill in Bailey’s garage. We ate bagels for dinner.
It wouldn’t be the first time we'd get skunked out of a warm meal—over the course the trip we would end up buying a new grill only to have it break within 24 hours, have a grill grate that wouldn’t stretch across the fire pit, watch a cooler full of meat and cheese go bad in heat, and find no can opener for canned food.
"Perhaps the 'perfect' adventure isn’t perfect at all"
After a dismal three hours of sleep due to persistent winds keeping us up all night (tent camping in Alabama Hills wasn’t the best idea, in retrospect), we loaded our gear back into the car and left for Death Valley.
We obviously aren’t professionals at any of this, but even through all of the mistakes that cost us money, sleep, and warm meals, it was still one of the best trips I’ve been on, and the mishaps made it all the more memorable.
Perhaps the “perfect” adventure isn’t perfect at all, and that’s what makes it perfect.