Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quick Overnight to Death Valley

What do you do when you've been looking forward to camping on Memorial Day weekend for weeks, and you're in in the Tahoe Basin looking at a forecast for a couple of days of thundershowers as far south as Bishop? You drive to Death Valley of course! Especially if you fail to check the mileage and assume that it might only be a 5 hour drive. Eight hours later you'll know you were wrong, but you're almost there, so you might as well enjoy the trip!

Well after dark on Saturday night I pulled into Stovepipe Wells, only to find that the campground was closed. I had continue on to Furnace Creek, which turned out to be about an hour away due to road construction. Being that far south, it made sense the next morning to go a little more south to visit Badwater.
The salt flats at Badwater go for miles, dwarfing anything that ventures out onto their flat surface.
Distances are very difficult to judge on the salt flats. I had already been walking for about 10 minutes across the uneven surface of the dirt-soiled salt before taking this picture towards the fresher, whiter salt deposits ahead. I had expected to reach the white surface in less than half that time.

Now being a zillion miles from Sacramento halfway through the weekend, it was time to head back! Of course I had to stop at the Stovepipe Wells dune field. Few things go as well togther as nine year olds and miles of sand. Given the choice, he'd still be there, trying to roll down every dune face out there. He exists in a state of motion blur. For scale, look at the people on the large dune in the background. It's about 2 miles away. The world is your sandbox; go play!

It turns out tracks in the sand that look like snakes with feet are made by desert iguanas up to 16" long. They're munching away on the leaves of the bushes, ignoring the steady stream of people passing by a few feet away. This one needs to floss; he still has a leaf caught between his teeth.