The bad thing about staying in Death Valley National Park is that there are limited options of where to stay. You have three: an expensive hotel; a less expensive hotel; and camping.
The good thing about staying in the park is that there are only two hotels and limited camping. There are no neon-lit chain hotels, no glossy fast food signs. There is not even a food truck glowing in the parking lot. That means the views, even from from the less expensive Stovepipe Wells, are unobstructed million-dollar vistas.
So I set up my pochade box on the front porch of the hotel, and painted what what was in front of me: the broad valley and mountains beyond. A friend stayed with me, and she knitted while I painted.
It was a simple equation:
Being outside + Cookies and tea on the table + companionable silence broken by occasional conversation + paint on my canvas (and in my hair) = Heaven. (Bonus: bathroom nearby—a plein air painter’s dream.)