Weekend Roadtrip: Feeling Alive in Death Valley

Rhea Choudhury Free Time, Hikes, Rhea, Students, Viterbi Life, Viterbi Plus Leave a Comment

While I love being on campus and our little USC bubble, one of my absolute favorite things to do is go on roadtrips. My parents always took me to beautiful natural spaces as a kid, and my love for nature and the ~great outdoors~ has grown exponentially in the last few years. If I have a chill weekend ahead, I’ll usually do my absolute best to get outside, grab my camera and some friends and just experience how insanely rad nature can be.

A few weekends ago was the USC-Cal game, also known as “the weekender.” For this game, a ton of USC people head up to the bay to support the football team, tailgate with friends at Berkeley, or just hang out around San Francisco. I don’t blame them, the bay area rocks 🙂 [full disclaimer: I grew up in the bay, am obsessed with San Francisco, and will definitely fight anyone who argues that Southern California is better] I was planning a potential trip to visit friends at Berkeley, but decided to instead road trip with two of my best friends here at SC. We did a crazy 24 hour road trip to stargaze in Death Valley, and I can easily say it was one of my favorite weekends this entire year.

We first headed to Pasadena, where my twin brother goes to school, to grab my car. It’s technically “our” car, but honestly, I drive it way more than he does. For some reason our parents decided he got to take it down to school, but he’s cool with letting me borrow it if I want to get out of LA. After grabbing the car around 7:30, we went to visit my friend’s brother at Harvey Mudd, and also grabbed his camera equipment for some sick night photography. After a quick in n out break in Upland (still not sure where exactly that is, it just showed up on the map and we stopped), we drove for four hours straight to Death Valley. We had planned out all our stops ahead of time, and started at an iconic location known as “Dante’s View.” Fun Fact, Death Valley is designated as a natural “dark space,” meaning that it’s one of the few places where absolutely no light pollution is allowed. It’s actually the third largest of these spaces that exist! As a result of this complete darkness, we saw the Milky Way, some incredible shooting stars, and even the lights of Las Vegas far over the mountains.

Our ambitious route, totalling about 11 hours of driving.

We got to Dante’s point around 1:30 am, stargazed and took photos till about 3, then slept in my car (yes it was sketchy but honestly that’s what college is for). We woke up at 6 for one of the most beautiful sunrises over all of Death Valley, then headed out around 6:45 to hit the rest of our spots.

Rather than describing each and every place we went, I decided to throw in some pictures I shot from that weekend, since honestly descriptions just don’t do these spots justice. Take a look below!

While it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of midterms, school, career hunting and “life stuff,” it’s really important to find something that keeps you grounded and sane. For me, that’s photography and exploring wild places, and this weekend in particular was incredibly memorable because I got to spend it doing something I loved with people I love. I’m definitely low-key drowning in work now, but I’ve definitely caught myself going through the pictures from Death Valley and planning out our next squad road trip.  College isn’t all stress and work, hopefully this blog helped illustrate that us college students have spontaneous fun sometimes too! Catch more of my adventures on instagram, I post lots of travel photos on my profile, @rheachoudhury :^)

Till next time!!

Rhea

Rhea is a junior studying biomedical engineering with a minor in healthcare studies. Catch her on campus drinking coffee, petting dogs, working in the USC Biomechanics lab, or tossing a frisbee on the quad. Check out her profile here!

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