|Racetrack Playa at night|
A few years ago I drove to Death Valley over the Fourth of July weekend. I wanted to feel the heat and take a few night photos. I got there in the evening an hour or two before the sunset. I walked out on the sand dunes a little ways where the temperature was 122 degrees in the shade (yes, I had a thermometer with me). I had plenty of water but after about 30 minutes I was getting worried about the possibility of heat stroke. I was alone and there were not many people in the park so I cooled down the best I could on the shady side of a dune. Then walked back to my car as soon as I could. Not even stopping to take any pictures. Then I drove to the Racetrack Playa. I got there well after dark and I was the only person there. I set up my camera and began taking photos leaving the shutter open 15 to 30 minutes at a time. While I was waiting for the long exposures I laid down on the playa and watched the nigh sky through binoculars. I noticed a faint sound that I didn't recognize. It was a soft intermittent sound. I thought it sounded kind of like two small blocks of wood bumping together way off in the distance. I sat up so I could hear the sound better but it stopped. I laid back down with my binoculars and the sound soon returned. I thought it might be an insect or a small animal but I had never heard anything quite like it. I sat up but the sound stopped again. I would set up my camera for a shot without noticing the sound but after I opened the shutter and went back to star gazing the noise returned. It was driving me nuts because I couldn't figure out what the strange sound was and every time I tried to listen carefully for it, it would stop. This went on for about two hours. Eventually I sat up and looked at the mountains in the distance through my binoculars. There was a little moon light but I could see nothing but the outline of the horizon. However, this time the sound didn't stop. It continued. I listened very carefully trying to pinpoint where the sound was coming from. It was about this time I realized the sound was my eyelashes brushing the lenses of the binoculars when I blinked. I put the binoculars away, gazed up at the sky and listened to the sound of silence.