The Dunes of Mars

Today the Warrior left the Earth that I know and entered a strange world of towering sand dunes and brown-orange volcanic rocks. In the distance low brown hills rise above a rubble filled surface. The sky above us is cloudless. The sun is quite hot and glares so bright that we cannot keep our eyes open when looking in its general direction. There is little sign of life. There are no trees, animals or human development. As far as the eye can see there is only this scene of desolation.
Welcome to the lowest spot on Earth. That’s right – this is where the Mars rovers get checked out before being sent to our celestial neighbor but it is on Earth. , Death Valley, California is near the Nevada border. To get here we climbed a 5,000 foot mountain and then descended to below sea level. It was the one and only time on this journey of ours when the Warrior’s temperature gauge started to concern me a bit.

After buying new coats for everyone back in British Columbia, the temperature in the next few days here is forecast to reach 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Today we climbed among those huge dunes and imagined ourselves lost in the Sahara. Although we were not out for long I found the heat draining and we all grabbed cold bottles of water when we returned to the Warrior.

My youngest son took this opportunity to go swimming in the sand. My oldest son and youngest daughter rolled down the dunes as well. Needless to say, the Warrior needs a good vacuuming.

Tonight I casually spoke to several of my kids about our trip so far. They candidly told me that the best part of our journey was the fact that they got to see and spend so much time with mom and dad. My oldest said that he had never really gotten to know me so well before now and he didn’t want it to stop. All agreed, in fact, that they did not want our journey to end. I was impressed with that.

Tonight, as I write this, my wife and kids are swimming under a crystal clear sky in a thermal pool brightly lit by the full moon. The water has no chemicals; just a constant flow of warm water from deep under the Earth.

Despite this bit of paradise I do have some concerns. The Warrior has been springing leaks like a kitchen colander. We are actually thinking of picking up our pace and dropping her off early at the dealer service center in Texas. My wife has suggested buying round trip tickets out of Dallas to Virginia. The airfare prices listed online are apparently under $200 each. We could then spend the Christmas season back home and then fly back on the return ticket to Dallas after New Years; continuing our journey at that point.

There are a lot of places we want to see before parking in our driveway. I really cannot imagine going back to my old lifestyle ever again and that’s the honest truth.

Author's Bio: 

Hugh DeBurgh, The Passionate Warrior, has dedicated his life to the achievement of the ultimate family lifestyle. You can find him writing about Creative Family Lifestyle Design over at his blog, The Way of the Passionate Warrior. Currently he is on the second leg of a worldwide travel adventure with his wife and four young children. His blog is at .