About a half-day's drive from LA sits the lowest, driest, and hottest place in America: Death Valley. For the last few days, my wife and I joined @MikeShinoda and @AnnaShinoda in seeing:
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    Sunsets like these.
    How's this for an intro? This was on the drive into the valley. I barely touched this up in edit - God doesn't need Photoshop.
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    Endless horizons like this.
    Where the roads impossibly meet the sky.
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    Badwater Basin
    is the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet below sea level. That white stuff you see here - well, in all the photos - is salt.
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    Yes. Salt.
    It takes on different forms throughout the national park. It can be sharp and unforgiving (as seen here), or soft and crunchy like cupcake frosting.
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    Devil's Golf Course.
    The landmarks have such awesome, evil names like Devil's Cornfield and Hell's Gate. My wife does her best Joshua tree impersonation:
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    Artist's Palette
    is the side of Black Mountain that's painted with a rainbow of colors, caused by the oxidation of different metals. Lavenders and pale greens pop against the blue skies. (see the man sitting on the peak?)
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    Commercial break.
    For my (now, light purple) @thehundreds X Timberland boots. Moving on...
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    Okay, so
    the reason why I love Death Valley so much is that every time you pull over the car and start hiking out, you'll stumble upon a new treasure. You can go from jagged canyons to natural springs. You can find discarded ghost towns and then deep red rock, all within miles of each other. Some of the best sights are off maps and converge when the light, weather, and shadows hit the earth just right.
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    Zabriskie Point.
    The setting for U2's group portrait on the Joshua Tree album cover (More on this tomorrow).
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    Dante's View.
    It's all about lighting here. When it comes to capturing the subtle purples and soft oranges in the air, you wanna shoot during magic hour (which, during the winter, hit early around 4pm). The shadows make all the difference as well, and can open a flat mountain into a complex character.
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    See? As the sun sets on the valley,
    it sweeps an extra brushstroke across the horizon.
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    So many colors,
    that you can't find in the city. It was freezing up here, inching to 30 degrees F.
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    Anna timed our trip
    with a meteor shower that rained down on us, as we laid under the ceiling of stars. So many stars, that it almost felt claustrophobic in the silent, pitch black night. This is weird, but I'd never seen a shooting star before this. Within an hour, I'd seen twenty.
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    The hills have teeth.
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    Rhyolite Ghost Town
    showcases more cool art than abandoned buildings. Like "Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada," a giant, pixelated nude woman, by Belgian artist Dr. Hugo Heyrman.
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    Or, "Last Supper,"
    created in 1984 by artist Albert Szukalski.
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    What remains of a school...
    From over a hundred years ago...
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    We then rented a Jeep,
    and colored outside the lines. Taking this thing off-roading - It was like Disneyland's Indiana Jones ride IRL. I called this Bacon Mountain.
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    is another ghost town that was propped up on hype, and deflated after six months once the post office left. We climbed the hillside and found this mine.
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    "Tight like hallways...
    smoked out always..."
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    Titus Canyon
    was the most treacherous terrain of the trip. After climbing steep mountain ridges that overlooked splintered gorges, I threaded the winding narrows.
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    The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
    were the site for a ton of Star Wars scenes. In fact, much of Episodes IV and VI were shot around Death Valley.
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    my car happened to be in Death Valley as well, as they're shooting a DeLorean commercial with it. Anyway,...