It was one of those rare white-knuckle experiences as our plane suddenly pulled up from what felt like a normal landing. It was our final approach into Sitka, Alaska where we were to embark on a “bucket list” adventure. Fog and cloud cover prevented a line-of-sight landing on our Captain’s first attempt, but he informed us he had fuel enough for a couple more tries. I can’t say that comforted my wife and me any or increased the blood flow in our knuckles as we held tight to our armrests. . . We also wondered if fog and cloud cover would follow us during our Alaska adventure over the course of next week.
Driving into Death Valley National Park along California Highway 190, you certainly understand how Death Valley got its name. The brown barren desert landscape is all you can see for miles around. We were headed for “The Ranch at Death Valley”, a self-described casual hotel that would be our home base for the next 6 days. The Ranch turned out to be a convenient centrally located lodge to access the Valley’s most remarkable places to visit. We were excited to finally explore one of the few major National Parks we have never experienced, but we were not at all prepared for the landscape vistas and diversity we were about to encounter.