Saturday, 14 April 2012

Death Valley, CA

Not a park to go to in summer
Death Valley had not had any rain in six months, until we got there. We must be the rain gods. It rained all day and all night. We camped at the Sunset campground as the Furnace Creek campground was closed due to renovations. It was too windy and miserable to cook, so we went across to the Furnace Creek Inn and had a drink and pizza. I decided to try a death valley sunset drink which was sickly sweet.

The next day was overcast and Lindsay wanted a lay day, so we just moved campgrounds to Stovepipe Wells. We walked into the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and then had a shower at the motel, for $4 you can have a shower in the pool area. The water was hot and strong which was a welcome relief since our last one. We set up camp at Stovepipe Wells and just vegged out for the rest of the day. The camping ground is just like Sunset camping ground, not very pleasant, just like a big car park. We met some new friends and all had drinks together and then continued on to dinner.

Mesquite Flat Sandunes
The next day we decided to go to Scotty’s Castle which is located at the top of the park. Along the way we had been advised to do a drive up to the Rhyolite ghost town and do the drive through Titus Canyon. Unfortunately the Titus Canyon one way drive was closed. If we had known that we wouldn’t have driven all that way. The ghost town alone wasn’t worth the drive. There was a house made of bottles there which was unusual. Back to the main road and 53km up to Scotty’s castle. This is a big park. We had lunch in the oasis of green grass and palm trees at the entrance. The National Parks service does tours and they were told if they dress up in costume, they can charge for tours and keep the money. Lindsay did the underground tour and I did the above ground tour of the house. Both were fantastic. It’s not so much about what you see, but the tale that the guides spin about Walter Scott and his friend Alfred Johnson. I loved it. The house

was very dark as they had the curtains closed in all the rooms and my new camera doesn’t have a built in flash. What? the more you pay the less you get! but I’ve had a look at the photos I did take and even though it was very low light and I was hand holding the camera, the pictures seem to be in focus. The power of a very good lens.

Scotty's Castle from the front 
The garage
the dining room

Unfortunately I forgot that the Ubehebe Crater was just near here and we missed it.

Friends had been to Wildrose to see the charcoal kilns two days previous and had said there was two feet of snow up there. We decided to go too. It was on the Stovepipe Wells road which goes from 100ft below sea level to 4100 feet above sea level, hence the snow. There is a nice little campground there which is free, but the toilets would put you off staying there. The kilns are very pretty; there are ten of them, in the shape of beehives. They were built to create the coal required to process the silver and lead ore, but were only used for three years.
Wildrose Kilns
Back on the road to Furnace Creek, which can get up to temperatures of 53C in the summer. We stopped off at the Harmony Borax Works, Golden Canyon (but we didn’t walk all the way through the twelve stop off points – it was too hot for walking) the Devils golf course (rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires), the Badwater Basin (vast salt flats), Artist’s drive (a nine mile one way scenic drive showing the coloured hills)

Badwater Basin
The Devil's golf course
Artist's Drive

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