WATCHxWITNESS: Death Valley
We had maps made of paper, bottles full of water and wanderlust full of heart.
Photos by Jason Goldwatch and 13thWitness
Full-blown bat country. We hit the ground wandering. Our expedition heading West towards no place in particular. Landing in Utah and weaving our way across the South Western expanses equipped with multitudes of glass, electronics, powders and plants. Our gang of dude-brothers drove towards the ocean, chasing the sun, with a few days to “get into” and “see” as much as possible. Our mantra, “Explore Everything,” our childish response, “Pause.”
The people of the desert are a lonely type. Sprinkled like stars in a vast night’s sky. The small collections of weathered people, wasted cars, barbed wire and porch lights, made for mirage-like oases of unraveling civilization. Having either been left behind by everything else, or intentionally isolating themselves from the modern world and its feverish pace. They have a simplicity and comfortable sense of being left alone, or as they like to put it, “Get the fuck off my property!”
Suspicious at first of our cameras, tattoos and inquisitive nature, they soon realized our good intentions and opened up, welcoming us “city folk” into their humble little piece of desert paradise.
Hitchhikers and vets, dog breeders and french frog tourists speckled the landscape of mostly magical dust and mysterious-whispering breeze as the lonely dirt roads leading us from one strange interaction to the next. During the days a spirit of mischief riddles the landscape in the form of laughing black birds and ironic postured cacti. The nights, wide-open sky seemed to embrace us with warm winds and the supreme consideration of hiding a new moon behind our shadow, as to reveal every single fucking star possible. And, as magic would have it, we were in the darkest place in the U.S. during a most-wonderful display of falling stars as Earth passed through an Asteroid belt, a trip she takes every 70 years. Our planning never really started, but our timing was spot on.
So we wandered.
Laughing, agreement and a sense of general well-being came easy as the sun reminded us of simple things, and the winds filled our ears with her symphony of adventure and complex geometry. We only had one CD and none of us can remember what it was.
Gas stations, the frequent and inevitable reminders of the world we were trying to forget. Their florescent slushies and spinning elderly hot dogs shook us back into the modern time and date, and out of the ancient rhythms of Mother Earth.
Our phones were out of range so the infrequency of human interaction awarded us a sense of true adventure and an ability to simply be timeless, on the road, watching, exploring and remaining open to whatever came towards us.
However, the inability to check Instagram did lead The Witness to a nervous place, as a result he consumed more than the pre-calculated amounts of the Jazz Smoke and professionally-prescribed alternatives. The thin veil we ordinarily function under had been worn further as myself and Vic The Voyager were simply trying to conserve and keep up.
The end result was a remarkable adventure across many days and nights, sleeping where we could and when we could. We left time and space behind. The pictures we captured along the way are a reflection of our own personal relationships with land and sky. While 13th gazed upwards and explored an infinite void at night, I tended to meander among the beings of this planet Earth during the day. And so, with our feet in the sand and our heads in the heavens, we ended the westerly voyage in Los Angeles, California, collecting our shared moments, returning our ID’s to our dusty pockets, and climbing aboard a metal bird to fly home again.