Updated: Nov 22, 2019

My phone rang and it was my friend, Friend: "Hey, what are you doing this weekend?" Me (pretending like I had to think about it) "Uh....nothing that I can think of, what's up?" Friend: "Wanna go to Death Valley for the Super Wolf Blood Moon?" Me (again...pretending like I had to think about it) "Uh...yeah!"

We arrived in Pahrump, NV where we had reserved a hotel room. We unloaded our stuff and prepared to go out to Badwater Basing and take some photographs. While we were out in the middle of the Salt Flats taking pictures, we heard what sounded like a growl. We were both confused because we had been the only ones out at the Salt Flats for a while and didn't notice anybody else. Well, out of nowhere, a person walking a dog appeared. We said hello, they said nothing and continued walking off into the horizon. So, after a while, we went back to the hotel and planned our trip for the next day.

One of the first places that we wanted to see was the Mesquite Sand Dunes. So, we hopped in the car and made our way out towards the dunes. What was really interesting was that neither one of us realized just how large the park actually was. Every time we'd look up something that we wanted to see, the GPS would tell us that it was an hour, two hours, or three hours away. We got to the Dunes and saw a large dune with a ton of people on it, sliding down on sleds. We decided that we didn't really want to go by the groups of people because we wanted to try to get some shots of the dunes with nobody on them. So, we made our way up and over some dunes and were impressed to see that they continued on for a long, long way. We walked for a while and found some pretty cool locations to stop and take some photos.

We finished at the Sand Dunes and decided that we should head towards Racetrack Playa to see if we could get some photos of the mysterious moving rocks that scoot along the dry riverbed and leave trails. As we were headed out there, without reliable GPS, it was clear that it was going to be a rough time getting to the Playa. As the light started to fade, I was getting anxious that I wasn't going to be able to get any sunset photos at the Playa, which was one of the things that I really wanted. But, as the sun started to go down, we rounded a corner and BOOM, there it was, we could see the giant dry lakebed with a beautiful rock island in the middle. We got out of the car, kind of speed-walked to the dry lakebed and I was able to get some photos that I really liked. However, I was frustrated that we couldn't find any rocks that had trails behind them. I told my friend, "Watch, I bet the North end of the Playa is just a little bit higher than the South end or something, and all the rocks are down at the South end. Let's go read the sign and see if it tells us where the rocks are." Sure enough, we went to the sign and it said that the North end of the Playa is about 2 inches higher than the South end, and that all of the rocks move to the South end of the Playa.

The sun faded and the moon rose, full, bright, and brilliant. We made our way to the South end of the Playa and were able to find a couple of the mysterious moving rocks. As we were walking around, the moon seemed to get brighter and brighter as it rose higher in the night sky. We finally stumbled upon a couple of rocks that had some amazing trails to them, but, as usual for this trip, as we were trying to get the photo we wanted, a car appear at the North end of the Playa and was shining a light toward us that made getting the right photo pretty difficult. But, luckily for us, they must have been photographers as well and they turned off their car and shut off the lights, allowing us to get exactly what we were looking for. After we had gotten all of the pictures we wanted of the lakebed and the rocks, we looked at the clock and saw that it was only 7:30pm. We checked when the Super Wolf Blood Moon was supposed to be happening and it told us that it would be around 9:20pm. So, we sat in the car and started watching a movie to kill the time. 9:00pm rolled around and miraculously, out of nowhere, the wind decided to show up. We sat in the car, looking at the moon and waiting until the eclipse made the moon start to look red.

I got out of the car, and instantly the wind went from being a nuisance to a full blown sand storm. It was so windy, that the wind was actually shining my focus ring on my lens. So, I quite predictable fell into a rage that the timing of the wind couldn't be worse since the whole purpose of the trip was to be able to get a cool photo of the Super Wolf Blood Moon and now that it is happening, the wind would not stop blowing long enough for me to get a decent picture. So, we tried to put the cameras on the other side of the car and use it as a sort of "windbreaker" so that we could at least get a better chance to shoot the moon. In the moment, I was frustrated and angry that I wasn't sure if I was able to get it or not. When we got back to the hotel room, I pulled out my camera and started going through the pictures. I was pretty sure I got one or two photos that I would like, but I couldn't be sure until I could see them on my computer.

I got home, uploaded the photos, and was pleasantly surprised, I had quite a few photos that turned out amazing! As I thought about my trip to Death Valley National Park, I couldn't help but to feel like the universe made things happen. I went out with a goal to photograph five things, 1. Badwater Basin 2. The Mesquite Sand Dunes 3. A Sunset 4. The Mysterious Moving Rocks at Racetrack Playa 5. The Super Wolf Blood Moon. I was able to get all five, even if it wasn't how I wanted it to be and the weather didn't perfectly cooperate, I am glad that I stuck with it and got the photos that I wanted. I'm pretty new to photography, but I love it. I love the opportunity I have to be outside and to capture the beauty that I see.

© 2019 by Kyle Rarick
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