28 Mar 2014--Today is Friday, but we went on this trip our 1st full day in Death Valley, Wednesday. When we arrived in the park Tuesday afternoon it was 95 degrees, so we weren't surprised that this place holds the record for "Hottest place on earth!".
There is a local Indian tribe that lives here in the park year round, and we saw a video about them that said they do not consider themselves living on a reservation. In their minds, a reservation is where the government forced other tribes to move to, while they have always live right here, so it is literally their homeland.
I have been saying for months that whenever I think of Death Valley I think of Ronald Reagan hosting the TV program when I was a kid called "Death Valley Days". It took me a while to find anything on him at all, but right in the Visitor Center is a big display on Borax...I know anyone my age or older will absolutely remember the TV commercials when we were kids with Borax being promoted as a cleaning product by this actress. I had completely forgotten about it but it came rushing back to me as soon as I saw her.
It wasn't until I went into this really tiny Borax Museum, on the grounds of a resort here in the park, that stuck in a corner was this small, maybe 8x10 picture of Ronny...I was quite surprised, being a former president, that he was not all over the place.
Death Valley is laid out much like Yellowstone, in that it has various stops along the road where there are specific things they point out to you and tell you a little about. So with map in hand we headed out for our 1st stop, to Badwater Basin, about 45 miles from where we are staying. (Death Valley is the also the biggest national park in the lower 48 states, at over 3.3 million acres.) We figured we would "go long", and make our way back to the RV Park with stops in-between.
When I thought of Death Valley and deserts and heat, etc., one thing that never crossed my mind that they might have is extensive salt flats. Badwater Basin is the lowest place in North America at 282 feet below sea level and has miles and miles of salt flats. The 3rd picture shows actual water, a spot at which a local surveyor tried to get his mule to drink. When the mule wouldn't drink it, the surveyor noted that the pool was "bad water", and the name stuck. It is not poisonous water, but it is extremely salty, probably a lot like the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
Once off the boardwalk you can walk on this salt for 5 miles.
Right up the road from the salt flats is a spot called "Devil's Golf Course", an extensive area of craggy ridges and spires of salt that have grown up from the valley floor over millions of years. They are also made up of salt, crystals left behind by the evaporation of an ancient lake, and are almost pure table salt.
A different angle.
Just a few pics of the surroundings as we move to our next spot.
The most amazing area of the day, what is called "Artist's Drive", is a 9 mile long drive through some of the most beautiful spots in the park. Here is a video to get us started...in it I say Painter's Drive, but that is not right..it is Artist's Drive! Being only about a mile into the drive, I already know this is gonna take us a while. haha
Some of these pictures look like paintings, like they are not even real, but I assure you they are.
On our way in the 1st pic to the area called "Artist's Palette". I think the colors are even more vivid in the video, so make sure you check it out.
And now the ride home at the end of the day. The last 2 pics are my favorites, especially the last one. Isn't it almost haunting? I love it!!!
Great day today! I have been looking forward to Death Valley as the potential highlight of our trip this time, and nothing we saw this day led me to believe otherwise. Lots more to do over the next several days, and although I know what's already coming up cause I am 2 days behind in these blogs, I will keep you guessing...but wait till you see what we saw on Thursday!!! haha