Death Valley, unexpected pleasure


colourful mountains leaving Nevada

Nevada desert on the way to Death Valley from Las Vegas

I should have called this trip the Desert Tour.  We have been to so many deserts this trip, I can’t believe the variety or that I could still get excited about another desert landscape.  But our day in Death Valley was probably the most beautiful of all. We were fortunate that spring had come to the desert.  After flooding last October, the wild flowers were all in bloom and enhanced the colourful hills and mountains even more.

We drove from Las Vegas on the more scenic route through Nevada until we got to Beatty, then turned south towards Furnace Creek.  I have to mention that Nevada allows prostitution in the state and when we stopped in Amargosa Valley to make lunch, we couldn’t help but notice the bold sign for a brothel.  There isn’t much at this stop except and restaurant, gift shop and brothel.  We were parked on the other side of the street at the rest area.  I noticed a young woman walking along the highway and thought she might be going from the brothel to the shanty town about 1/2 mile away.  But as we drove away after lunch, she seemed to have passed that area and just be walking on.  I wonder what her story was.

The terrain continued to change from the Nevada desert to Death Valley, as we entered California State once again.  Death Valley is the lowest point in the US, 268 ft below sea level.  Yet it doesn’t seem like you are driving down that much.  The rocks are so varied, either shiny as if they are wet, or so dry and porous looking they look like sand dunes.

We camped at Furnace Creek and took a great number of pictures before the sun set.  Then we sat outside after dark to watch for falling stars.  I was lucky and saw 2.  Suddenly the sky started to  brighten in the east and we couldn’t figure it out until we realized it was the moon rising.  After that, it got too bright to see the stars clearly.

When we continued our drive towards LA this morning, the mountains and scenery got even more beautiful adding so many layers of colours from sand to turquoise to brown.  At one point, we thought we had come up a large lake but it turned out to be a true mirage.  I never thought a desert that sounds so dreary could be so beautiful.  What a treat!

Death Valley has a very colourful past.  At one point there was a large producer of borax located in the valley.  They pulled the product out of the valley with 20 mules and the road still remains today.  There are also the remnants of train stations, not the stations or tracks, but the names of the junctions, like Death Valley Junction where you’ll find the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel.  We didn’t have time to delve any  deeper into those stories.  And one of the oddest things we came upon were large sand dunes (Dumont Dunes).  Once again, the desert has so many surprises.

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