As Mike drives back down from his bristlecone pine visit he arrives at the turnoff for the Death Valley Road to, yes, Death Valley. He hesitates a moment, then turns onto it and heads southeast, aiming for the intersection of the Eureka Valley road and the Saline Valley road. In a little over a half hour, he arrives.
Oh yes, Mike has been here before. Once out of the car, he sets about reconstructing his earlier Fritos & Beer shot, taken in 1994. The current photo is shamelessly artificial, since the bitter wind is certainly not conducive to a leisurely outdoors lunch. Mike had said in 1994 that "Not even a single car passed by the whole time I was there; I remained in splendid solitude with my precious Fritos & Beer." The same situation obtained in 2009, even if the Fritos & Beer was consumed sitting inside the car.
On the way back Mike stops and takes some pix of an atmospheric ranch entry road, complete with skull.
(. . . as an afterthought, someday Mike must actually drive down the Saline Valley Road. Not in an Infiniti, though.)
Photos: Fritos & Beer—Death Valley Road, 2009; Skull & Road—Owens Valley, 2009; Saline Valley Road Sign—Death Valley Road, 2009