September 2022: 3,200-mile RV Trip

Owens Valley Overlook Pano
These dramatic clouds were taken on day 1 as we descended the steep Hwy 168 into the Owens Valley, toward Big Pine

This 4-week trip was special as we would venture to new places with such diverse landscapes, small towns and natural beauty. Starting off in Owens Valley for a 5-day photography workshop with 9 other photographers. Following a week in Owens Valley, we traveled down to Shoshone, CA which would be our base camp to explore Death Valley National Park and the surrounding areas for the very first time. From there, it was down to Joshua Tree National Park for a few days, also our first time to visit. On the return trip back to Texas, we stopped off in Williams, Arizona to see what birds were at a special lake I have visited two years before, and finally, Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 50th Anniversary Ballon Fiesta. 

Owens Valley, California and surrounding areas.

We arrived in Owens Valley a couple of days before my workshop kicked off via a route from Nevada (Hwy’s 95 & 266) and into California on (Hwy 168) crossing over the White Mountain down to Big Pine and up to Bishop. I have to say that the steep 8% grade traveling down in the Motorhome, towing our car, was an experience in unto itself, having to stop twice to let the 1900-degree F brakes cool off! But oh boy, what a spectacular drive descending down to Big Pine!

The City of Owens Valley is very quaint with great restaurants and places to see. The surrounding towns such as Big Pine, Mammoth and Mono Lakes are amazing. After setting up camp in a beautiful RV park on the north end of town, Gail, Bella & I ventured out the first two days to enjoy the landscape, exploring downtown Owens Valley, Big Pine Creek Campground, Mammoth Lake, Convict Lake, and Mono Lake.

5-Day Photography Workshop

Ownes River Sunrise
Ownes River Sunrise

This workshop led by Hudson Henry, Rick LePage, CJ Guinn & David Archer and the 11 other crew was fantastic. Meeting new people from all walks of life with similar interests is a joy since we spend a lot of time together, from dark-30 in the mornings to way beyond dark-30 at night shooting dawn/blue-hour sunrise to dusk/golden hour sunsets, Milky Way, scouting for new places to photograph, and everything in-between!

Meet & Greet, Image reviews and the Alabama Hills Milky Way

Bristlecone Pine Forest. 4,700-year-old pine trees at 11,000 feet atop the White Mountain Range

Ansel Adams "Mount Williamson" scouting, an attempt to recreate one of his famous images and the Alabama Hills

Convict Lake blue hour and runrise

Convict Lake Blue hour 10-stop ND, 20 sec exposure

Roadside opportunity on Hwy 395 between Convict Lake & Bishop

A roadside turnout photo opportunity on Hwy 395 between Convict Lake and Bishop.

Hwy 395 Dramatic Clouds. Spot the Mad Cow?

Mono Lake

Mono Lake Milky Way coposite

Death Valley National Park

Due to the recent flooding in Death Valley, many roads were closed so we had to take a scenic route from Bishop , around the north end of the White Mountain range and into Nevada, then south to or base in Shoshone, CA. With the exception of Hwy 190 to Dante’s View, Zabriskie Point, Furnace Creek to the Mesquite Dunes on the northeast side of the park. Stovepipe Wells and all other roads were closed. Luckily, I checked the park’s web site on our last full day in the area, I was surprised to see that several roads had been opened including Artist’s Pallet and down to the Badlands, as well as west of the Mesquite Dunes to west of Stovepipe Wells, permitting me to drive to the remote Eureka Mine and Skidoo townsite south of Hwy 190, on Emigrant Canyon Road and up the 4×4 road to Aguereberry Point at 6,433 feet overlooking Devil’s Gold Coarse and Badwater Basin from the west. This day was a long one, driving 343 miles in the Crosstrek.

Auguereberry Point pano (6,433 Ft) on the west overlooking the Badwater Basin

Shashone, CA and surrounding area

Shoshone was our base camp for the Death Valley National Park experience. It is a very small village with a small museum, resturant & gas station, plus some great birding along the river bottom. Beautiful clear skies at night which inspired me to drive up into the BLM land overlooking the RV Park and town to take a few Milky Way photos enjoying a glass of vino or two.  We would also venture over to see the famous China Ranch Dates farm down in a valley.  We would also drive up into Nevada to the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge where we were told a large heard of Big Horn Sheep. We found where they were hanging out, but unfortunately, we did not see them.

Twenty Nine Palms and Joshua Tree National Park

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Sunrise @ Twenty Nine Palms, California RV Park , base to visit Joshua Tree National Park
Sunset following a brief rain storm with low hanging clouds eliminated by the setting sun.

Williams, Arizona

Homeward bound headed east, we stopped in Williams, AZ at the KOA Campground with a plan to revisit a lake I first learned about two years prior where I had photographed a Bald Eagle and a Golden Eagle, among other birds. Since its rather remote, I had hoped the two raptors would be there to photograph with my Z9. It wasn’t meant to be, bad timing I suspect! 

Route 66 in California pit stop
Scholz Lake Pano in the Kaibab National Forest

Albuquerque, New Mexico for the annual Ballon Fiesta's 50th anniversary.

We have talked about coming to witness the annual balloon fiesta for years and never made it. Our timing was perfect on this trip, which was planned well in advance, permitting us to securing a RV campsite for a few days. The festival was an amazing experience, to witness the balloons light up the dark sky at dark-thirty, and then for several hours, over 500 balloons, of all shapes and sizes, were in the sky on a picture-perfect morning.

The Dawn Patrol inflating the balloons as the day began at

We hope you enjoyed our journey of photographs of yet another awesome road trip. Until the next one, Cheers!