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NY | Las Vegas | Death Valley

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

Day 52 – November 30, 2010

I’m writing and recording less of my thoughts now that I’m here in the US. Not sure if it’s because I feel like the photography-centric part of this trip is over, or because I have less to say. Maybe it’s the falling drive to document everything and focus on only the really strong stuff that isn’t as forthcoming. Whatever the case, a few things have happened since the last entry in this log.

Central Park viewed from Rockefeller Center

Central Park from Rockefeller Center

New York feels special. Much more than I had imagined it would. Not sure if it’s due to the scale of the buildings, density of people, the festival season or just plain imagination. I really pushed myself physically in the two days I was there, walking around for 8-10 hours on both days, and getting back to the hostel with both feet almost destroyed. Shot with the F100 but there’s no way to know whether the images are going to turn out good or bad till they get developed. There’s a lot to see and do in NY, and two days certainly isn’t enough time for even half of those things. I’d like to come back to the city and spend more time in it, exploring it more. Don’t know when that will happen, though.

Times Square - New York

Times Square

New York at Night

Neon Sky

New York Subway Corridor

NY Subway Walkway

Brooklyn Bridge

Glimpses of NY

Manhattan Bridge from the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park

Manhattan Bridge from the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park

Brooklyn Bridge and Downtown NY

Brooklyn Bridge and Downtown NY

Brooklyn Bridge; Empire State Building; Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Chrysler Building in New York

Chrysler Building

Las Vegas in stark contrast is all glitz and pomp. Where NY is a truly big city, not only in terms of size and scale but also in terms of depth in culture, arts, commerce, etc., Vegas is unbelievably superficial about everything. Everything here is larger than life, and unabashedly materialistic. Gambling, cars, hotels, casinos, helicopters, imitation buildings – everything is surface pretty. If you’re not into those things then there is really nothing here that will hold you. Just look at the city from a good vantage point at night and that’s the most beauty you can get out of it.

Las Vegas - Strip

Las Vegas - Strip

Las Vegas in twilight

Las Vegas in twilight

Las Vegas Street

Vegas Street

Morning in Las Vegas

Morning in Las Vegas

Ford Mustang Instruments

Cockpit view - Ford Mustang

Death Valley is absolutely nothing if not a grand show, only this time it is nature that is turning it on, not man. And what a show it is – reminiscent of two other places that leave you with the same feeling – Ladakh and the Australian outback. There could be others, but my experiences are confined to these two, hence the comparison. Common features include vast areas of barren land with no signs of greenery. Only thorny shrubbery scattered across the plains in a meek attempt to cover the dry, cracked soil that forms the surface of the valley’s base. On all sides, the valley is surrounded by mountain ranges that are largely responsible for keeping the heat inside, thus making it one of the hottest places on the planet each year.

View in the rearview mirror

Looking ahead at the road behind

Ford Mustang in Death Valley

The Steed

Ford Mustang in Death Valley

The steed's portrait

Ford Mustang in Death Valley

The steed's hoof

There is a very strong sense of isolation here, even though cars and people crossing your path aren’t very infrequent.  I guess it is the realization that even with all our possessions, this is the planet we live on. Just stepping out of our comfort zones – the cities and houses we live in, allows us to really get back in touch with where we stand in the ecosystem of life, and also makes us realize what a small part of it we really are. Transient and fragile, just like everything else. The sheer scale of the landscape in the valley is hard to fathom. Standing at many points in the valley, it is possible to simultaneously look at land at altitudes ranging from below sea level to over 11000 ft. Try and recall the altitude of the last hill station you went for your holiday, and then imagine looking at it while standing 282 ft. under the ocean. That’s Death valley.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

Furnace Creek Signboard

Furnace Creek Signboard

Fence in Stovepipe Wells

Fence in Stovepipe Wells - Death Valley

RV Campground - Stovepipe Wells

RV Campground in Stovepipe Wells - Death Valley

Airstrip Signboard - Death Valley

Airstrip Sign - Stovepipe Wells

Road through Stovepipe Wells

Road through Stovepipe Wells

Twilight

Twilight

Sunrise at Mesquite Dunes

Sunrise at Mesquite Dunes

The Devil's Golf Course

The Devil's Golf Course - Death Valley

Scotty's Castle in Death Valley

Scotty's Castle - Death Valley

Scotty's Castle in Death Valley

Scotty's Castle - Death Valley

Rhyolite Ghost Town

Dilapidated building in Rhyolite

I’m heading onwards to Yosemite now, with a brief stopover in Vegas and Orange where other matters must be attended to. I’ve been looking forward to Yosemite for some time, and I really hope it isn’t snowed in yet.

Driving through Death Valley

Lone Traveller

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