vulture bait day 1: death valley in color.

So we pick up the van from a very unpleasant woman named Sandy in Las Vegas. Her underling seems frightened to death of her but must really need this job. Or she's his mom. As he's putting our paperwork together, the following conversation ensues:

Underling: "OK, so...there are really only two 'no-go' areas, mkay? Mexico, and Death Valley".
Me: "Mm-hm. Yes. What exactly do you mean by 'no-go' areas?"
Underling: "It means you, well...can't go there. Our insurance doesn't cover us there."

Me (to myself): "Fuuuuck, really?"
Me (to him): "Ah, OK, yeah. Yeah, sure! Got it."

Then I signed and initialed lots of papers that I'm pretty sure said I wasn't going to take their van to Mexico or Death Valley.

Then? I followed the fucking plan* and drove directly to Death Valley. This is the badlands of Zabriskie Point, both with and without Team Photographer Nelson.

Oh yeah, and hilariously, Kevin the van spent the week toying with our nerves by not starting sometimes. The first time he pulled this shit was at Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, pictured below, which is, of course, located in Death Valley Junction where none of the three of us were supposed to be. Imagine my face at the sound of the uselessly clicking ignition.

* Death Valley had been the plan for months. Their website had always said that they didn't advise going to Death Valley between May and September, but you could still do it. If you had a breakdown, however, you were fucked: you were completely liable for the van and any extortionate repair costs. I quickly computed the likelihood of Sandy and myself having a productive conversation about what their website said vs. what her underling had just told me and decided that I should probably just take my chances. I mean, "what could go wrong in Death Valley?"


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