Death Valley Photos

Death Valley ’24

Between starting a new job & taking some delightful journeys in our new Airstream, we’ve been remiss in actually updating the ol’ Micronaxx blog. So as not to let April get away entirely without an update, I’ll mention some highlights from my inaugural outing with Finn & the trailer—the gallery from which you can see here.

“MNK” (Margot Nack’s Kid), as he’s known, was an incredibly resourceful, level-headed companion on what was inevitably a slightly intimidating outing towing more than 3,000 pounds of bucking metal behind us. Happily we were able to overcome a few teething problems and make our way safely out to the desert.

Highlights included:

  • Glimpsing a rare lake (!) in the driest place in North America. All those early-year rains made for quite the sight of kayakers paddling around the foot-deep expanse. Compare that to my previous visit with Henry, during which we crunched around the dry lake bed with our vintage Lego spacemen & simulated the lunar surface.
  • Camping in a 31-person town that featured a single restaurant staffed by “Stressed Uncle Ted” (as Finn dubbed him), the one-man waitstaff.
  • Catching a beautiful sunrise at Zabriskie Point, then driving up to the funky communities of Beatty, NV & Goldfield, NV (home to outdoor sculpture gardens, art cars, kooky locals, and free-range donkeys).
  • Checking out The International Car Forest (see link in case the animation below doesn’t play), where Hen, Sarah Murray, and I had photographed fire breathers back in 2022.
  • Hiking up to “The Star of Siam,” which Finn & I had previously summited with our friend Maria back in 2017. I think he found the climb far more tractable at age 16 than at age 8!

Anyway, check out the gallery if you’re feeling it, and here’s to many more epic roadtrips with the fam!

Death Valley Photos

DV22: Salty Spacemen 🚀

[Galleries: Trains and Spacemen]

Our second full day of desert adventures saw us awaken from a fairly brutal night. I’d been unable to locate our campsite, leading to lots of circling in the dark before finally, in desperation, picking a bare patch of gravel.

Mercifully Hen had long since nodded off, but the next hours featured me struggling to sleep on the van floor before he woke up & we stretched out the bed. (Oddball upside: Spotting a midnight coyote patrolling the campground just a few feet from us.) Little did I know that our cousin Sarah Murray was sleeping not more than a few campsites away—but that’s a story for another day!

We skedaddled down to catch some morning light on an old engine of the Death Valley Railroad, bringing our Lego selves & engineers in tow.

We followed up by making the most of the tourist-gouging breakfast buffet, carrying off approximately 936 buttermilk biscuits. Hen kinda overdid it, as you can see in our gallery. 😛 Now suitably refueled, we explored the nearby visitors center & ruins of some old borax works

Soon after, our Adobe friends began to roll in, and we strategized about our photography plans at Badwater Basin, the nearby dry lake. Hen had thought ahead & brought along a collection of vintage Lego spacemen & vehicles, including a number from my childhood. It was particularly special to me that Henry chose to include a moon buggy through whose windows I remember peering up at the stars while my mom drove us home from Rockford, circa 1981.

While our friends conducted an eye-popping photo shoot with a talented acrobat performing handstands atop a stack of chairs (!)…

…we enjoyed ourselves creating a lunar exploration. Check out the full gallery from the outing!

Death Valley Photos Videos

DV22: Tehachapi, Trainspotting, and Trona


I joke with Henry that our adventures often consist of four days of doing stuff, followed by four weeks of editing the photographic results. That’s not much of an exaggeration, as we love to capture so many moments that it’s a bit daunting to figure out what to share!

Most recently, he & I headed to Death Valley (hence “DV22” in the title of this & the related posts) for some picture-taking fun with a couple of my Adobe colleagues, plus a fire breather & acrobat (!).

First up was our stop in Tehachapi, site of the famous railroad loop that we’ve visited the last two summers. As we were watching trains back in June (gallery), we ran into a couple who said they were staying at an AirBnB with its own caboose (!) just down the hill. Here’s Hen just outside the fence last year:

Naturally it’s been on our to-see list ever since, so we were delighted to book a spot.

For some people the location would be a nightmare, with freight trains rumbling past at all hours, reminding me of the Blues Brothers yelling over the El noise, “How often does the train go by?” “So often you won’t notice!” For Hen this was of course a feature, not a bug! At 3am I awoke to find him pressed to the glass, watching the action, and the next morning we spent hours getting a tour from the friendly & local proprietor.

Check out the detailed narrative Hen made for his YouTube channel:

After we finally tore ourselves away, we made our way to Tehachapi proper, where we toured the local train depot/museum as well as a funky antique store Henry dubbed “the man-cave-iest man cave that ever man caved!”

With many miles to go before we could sleep, we then headed north towards Death Valley. First we stopped off at Trona, home of the famous fish rocks…

…as well as some great derelict train cars to explore.

Check out our whole day’s journey in this gallery.

Death Valley Photos

Valley of the Legos

Last week’s journey out to Death Valley marks the first time I’ve headed that way without the family or friends. The endless desert drives were made less lonely, however, as I’d reach into my pocket to feel the reassuring jangle of the “Nanonaxx”—little Lego copies of the four of us + Seamy.

As you can see in this gallery, I had fun posing them everywhere from sand dunes to a salty seabed to the top of a little peak. Check it out!