The Salt Flats, The Racetrack Playa, and a Very Beautiful Model.

Renee Robyn travels extremely well. One of the things I like about her is that she shares my ravenous love of food in all its forms. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, burgers, flapjacks, pie - she has a great attitude towards these things. And she's not snobbish, which is nice. Have you ever travelled with someone who only wants to visit out-of-the-way restaurants, and only if they have patios where you can smoke, and only if they serve organic lettuce? Hell.

Renee responds well to, "Wanna check out Bob's Big Boy? Turns out the oldest one still in business is in Davis."

She also shares my nearly-psychotic paranoia about securing camera equipment at all times.

These are asides, I just thought I would touch on them before proceeding.

Anyway. February 20th, we woke up at the Stagecoach Hotel and hit the attached Denny's and the candy store across the parking lot before heading out. I had a pretty full day planned - another attempt at the salt flats, and then a trip to the Racetrack Playa. We were both excited about the playa - the expansiveness, the unusual topography, the sailing stones.

I had other destinations in mind, but I was most concerned with making sure we had time to see the playa.

As we wandered the candy store, and I tried to imagine any scenario in which I could justify taking home that many Pez dispensers, Renee struck up a casual conversation with the cashier. I don't really recall the specifics, but I remember clearly the cashier recommending the Valley of Fire. Curious, we perused a rack of tour guides and saw one for the Valley. The amazing fiery red landscape sealed it - before we left, the Valley of Fire was a must.

We set out, heading West of Beatty back toward Death Valley. Our first couple locations were a wash - everything was fenced off, too many people around. We headed South to the salt flats.

The first time we'd visited, the signs seemed to indicate that the road past the flats wasn't open to the public. Turns out, I was wrong. We drove a click or two past the touristy viewing area we'd stopped before and saw nothing but uninhabited flats. We headed out, stepping very carefully, very aware of the sharp formations at our feet.

We got far enough away from the road that if anyone stopped, they'd be too far to engage us in conversation. Renee made a quick switch into her outfit and we started shooting. 

"I have some Batman underwear I want to wear for a fan of mine," said Renee. No complaints on my end.

We started with Renee in a long flowy skirt, a bra, and a garment that she wears for motorcycling. I'm sure there's a term for it, but I can't think of it right this second. It covers her shoulders and sits low enough to cover her nipples, as long as she stands right.

We shot a few frames, and Renee tugged at her bra. "You probably want me to take this off, right?" I did. She understands me.

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Probably my favourite from this location. As I've said before, probably the finest underboob in the history of recorded existence.

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Although this one's no slouch either.

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I tend to get sloppy when I'm clicking away. I don't know how I managed it, but I got an entire sequence about three stops overexposed. Little bit of added grain for texture though, and it's a good-not-great shot. Admittedly, that's largely an RR thing.

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As we clicked away, a van of tourists pulled over on the highway and watched from afar. Afterwards, we shot landscapes and textures, completely dazzled by the unique, unforgettable landscape. By the way, I want to mention - yes, Renee is barefoot on the salt flats, and yes, that was extremely painful for her. I knelt to get some shots and the salt was painful through my jeans. It's an indicator of how seriously she takes art that she always sucks it up and gets the shot.

Did I mention that after I got her warmed up after her quick dip in Darwin Falls the day before she was prepared to go back in? That's moxie.

After we were done, we checked the time and decided we had to head straight to the Racetrack Playa or risk losing the light.

The road to the playa was a couple hours of highway driving away. The road itself was only about 30 miles if I recall correctly, but thirty miles of dirt and rocks, navigable only with an all-terrain vehicle and only going 5 or 10 mph. I had a spare tire, but I suck at changing spare tires. I was also intensely aware that calling a tow truck into the Valley was liable to set me back a cool grand, and we were so far out of cell phone range that it was a couple hours of driving to even get to where we could make the call. We had two things on our side - one, the fact that our rental Jeep had so far proven pretty hardy, and second, an unseasonable cold snap in the Valley. If something did happen, dying of thirst as we waited for rescue didn't seem too likely.

The drive to the playa took about an hour, and yes, it was slow and boring. But we made it OK and the playa was magnificent - and deserted.

It was also, unfortunately, bitingly cold, windy, and nearing sundown. We immediately decided on The Grandstand - a large monolith of black rocks at the North end of the playa as both interesting photographically and a windbreak. It also would conceal us from the road, although we didn't expect anyone else to come through that late in the day.

We both snapped away at the landscape as we trudged to the other side of the Grandstand. On the other side, Renee did her patented quick change from photographer to Hot Model.

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Cold, but enthusiastic!

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Renee doesn't usually go this revealing, and I'm flattered that she'd make the exception for me. I think the location had a lot to do with it, of course. I tend to overuse the word 'magnificent' but seriously - that butt is magnificent.

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This shot in particular has been very well received. The pose was Renee's, I just clicked away.

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The sun continued to set, and it was pitch dark by the time we got back to the highway. It was the end of a terrific, very productive day. :)

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