Such tremendously motivating feedback, everyone. Keep the encouragement up and I may just quit my job and do something really stupid! :)
If there was a National Park of Hell, Death Valley would be it. In addition to a string of record temps (highest reliably reported temperature in the world, 134 °F (56.7 °C); highest mean 24 hour-period high, highest number of consecutive days/nights over 100 deg F (38 C), highest overnight low (107 F--at NIGHT!), it's the lowest and driest place in North America. But though it can get mercilessly hot, there are times of year where it's not--and there are some really high mountains you can escape to that, provided you are ok with some oxygen deprivation, are much cooler.
My love affair with Death Valley began in 2006. I was coming off of 6 years of being a workaholic. Our VP joked once that "our rep of the year is so pale because he arrives in the morning when it's dark and at night leaves when it's dark." (Wasn't an exaggeration.) I really enjoyed a good 4 years there. But the 5th and 6th wore on me. I was passionate about what I did....maybe you'd call it obsessed (or possessed). It was stressful, though. I'd often have dreams at the end of every quarter/year that typically required insanely frightening activities, like getting into company cars that were wired to blow up if we left in them and did not come back with a Purchase Order. (Instead of quitting I still got in the car). Ha! One dream the aforementioned VP (Barry Mainz) brought me into his office on Dec. 31st because I couldn't get a deal in in time. I explained what had happened, but it wasn't good enough. Instead of being terminated I was going to be executed. It was in the contract I had signed on the first day of work, so I was bound to it. Talk about a loyal employee....
But six years of suspended goals (auto racing notwithstanding) and six years of built-up adrenaline took a toll. I needed growth and exploration. I needed to see the exact opposite of a cubicle. I wanted struggle and excitement and fear. I began daydreaming about wandering through The Sahara—and then it hit me: DEATH VALLEY. One of the cruelest environments on earth was exactly the elixir I needed.
It was a very sad time in my life and I suppose a trip to hell and back was proof I was still capable of sustaining myself. And hell I got!
What have we here?