Death Valley is one of my all time favorite places to visit. It is so remote, quite and good for the soul. I have been a number of times and seen a lot of the sights to see in the main valley. During those trips I have driven a lot of the short off road excursions anyone with a 4×4 or Honda civic can do. One thing I have always wanted to do was link together as many of the back country roads together into one continuous trip with as little pavement driven as humanly possible. My chance to do this came this past November. The planning actual started six months before November and the reasoning for the trip was a guys only pre-baby #2 bash for myself. What started out as just myself and a friend turned into 7 Land Cruisers. We had 4 days to cover close to 300 or so miles of unpaved dirt road. We managed to link together Harry Wade Road, Warm Springs Road, Mengel Pass, Goeler Wash, Wingate Road, Cerro Gordo Mine, White Talc Mountain Road, Hidden Valley and Hunter Mountain, Racetrack Road, Lippincot Road, Saline Valley Road, Steele Pass, Deckadera Canyon, Eureka Dunes Road and Big Pine Road. We only had a 30 mile stretch of pavement from Panamint Springs to Keeler before heading up to Cerro Gordo. There are too many fun stories to tell so I will let the photos do the talking.
I spent two weeks installing a new focus and support mechanism for the 60″ telescope at Palomar Mountain. After the work was finished I was fortunate enough to have two nights to two test the performance of my design. Along with testing I was able to get some visual observing and imaging time on the telescope. The visual observing was a near religious experience. Seeing was 0.64 arcseconds and the sky was one of the darkest on record for Palomar. The only camera I had to do astrophotography with was my Nikon D3. It was pretty funny seeing a little DSLR on a really big telescope.
I was up at the Palomar Observatory for February and March doing maintenance on the telescopes. I had lots of opportunities to take some unique photos.
This is one of my favorite views of the dome for the 200″ telescope. I pass it every morning and evening on my way from the monestery to the dome.
After Christmas my wife and I decided to take a very last minute trip to Moab, Utah with a stop in Monument Valley along the way.
My little sister got married in Blacksburg, Virginia
Went on an offroad / camping trip to Red Rock Canyon