Friday, March 30, 2012

Sound of Silence

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.  


  1. What a lovely photo! That sound would've freaked me out! I'm glad it was only your eyelashes. Haha!

  2. Thanks Alexis. It did freak me out a bit. I am just glad I finally figured out what it was or it would still be driving me crazy.

    Can't figure out why my picture doesn't show up on my own blog? Now that's going to drive me crazy.

  3. Wonder and mystery at Death Valley... I love this story, Ross. And a beautiful shot.

  4. I appreciate your feedback Lahn. This is one of my favorite places. Thanks for sharing this post on G+ too.