Don’t skip a visit to Death Valley National Park. It’s not a desert wasteland, and it’s not boring or unimportant. The thing is, when you strip away all the conventional notions of what is beautiful, like trees for example, or flowers or other plant and wildlife, you are left with the backbone of the Earth. Rock. Dirt. Salt. Air. Light. It’s like stripping away a person’s hair, clothes, shape, and belongings, and just looking at their raw material: intention, purpose, and perspective. It’s like looking at their soul. That’s what Death Valley shows you, the soul of the Earth. No fluff, no showing off, no fancy ponderings of “look what I can do.” It’s the raw material. The great forces that shape our world are exposed. Rock has been uplifted, torn apart, and stretched down the middle. The exposed crust is baked and cracked in the relentless and unforgiving gaze of the sun. Every drop of water is threatened by the salt that lies just beneath the surface. But despite all of this, the valley is peaceful. It simply exists. The intensity of the light, the framing of the bare mountains, the shading of the colors all make you want to somehow capture it forever, and take it home to remind you what the Earth is capable of, what it started with. The soul knows itself, and it beckons you to stop by and take a look.