282 Feet Below

Sunday, April 18, 2021

In graduate school, I started a family tradition of an annual camping trip with my mother and sister. In 2019, the three of us rented an exorbitantly expensive Jeep with a tent mounted on top and drove to Death Valley. We were barely tall enough to open and close the tent, but we managed somehow. The most breathtaking part of Death Valley was wandering these salt flats, Badwater Basins, where the surface of the water bends out prismatic reflections of the minerals and the sky, and tourists wander like specks across the expanse. The scientist in me is fascinated as well, because this area is the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet below sea level. Now, during COVID, camping has become one of my last ways to take a vacation and I finally bought my own tent.