Alive in Death Valley

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Me at the China Ranch Date Farm, a used-to-be ranch owned by a Chinese man who may have been murdered.

by Neva Bodin

We just returned from a Valentine’s night meal at our favorite restaurant: Strawberry Daiquiri, Caesar salad, hot hard crust buttered rolls with soft luscious middles, blackened prime rib, loaded baked potato, string beans, coffee. Anyone hungry? This restaurant has the best prime rib anywhere. I am satiated food-wise. I returned home from Death Valley last week satiated scenery wise.

We spent nine nights at a campground close to Death Valley and every other day packed a lunch and took a day trip into the desert. The highest temp we encountered was 73 above at the lowest point in the US, 282 miles below sea level at Bad Water Basin. But it was sunny and the Valley/Desert was wearing its colorful clothes for us, even though they weren’t adorned with flowers this time of year. For this blog, I will share our trip with you in pictures.

dscn4069We visited the ghost town of Rhyolite, once an enterprising mining town began in 1904 that had a school, hospital, ice cream parlor, depot and bustling social life. There an enterprising miner named Tom T. Kelly built a house out of 50,000 beer and liquor bottles.  In 1925 this house was restored by Paramount Pictures. I don’t know why.

While at Rhyolite I was able to photograph a Black Tailed Jack Rabbit, also known as the American Desert Hare. I was exploring an old trash pile as I find treasures in them sometimes and he jumped up from behind a bush and paused long enough for me to click the camera. They have huge ears and eyes, a black tail and black back feet.dscn4058

We visited a date farm, an oasis hidden in the crevice of sand and stone hills and mountains, at the end of a steep and winding dirt road. Beautiful and peaceful and a favorite hiking place for groups. Date shakes taste amazing under hot sun and palm branches. They complimented our sandwiches.

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Looking up at one of many different kinds of date palms.

 

The ghost town was complete with ghosts, I particularly identified with the artist one. dscn4080

Death Valley is adorned with colorful cliffs. Ribbons of reds, blues, yellows and browns border the highway as we drove in our air-conditioned car and I tried to imagine crossing this vast salt-white land on foot, when the temperature is 110 degrees like you see in the movies.

dscn4084We saw lots of sign of wild burros before we saw some live ones. They were shy about being photographed.

 

And we visited two sites where pre-historic pupfish live and have lived in isolation for perhaps 10,000 years. Once thought extinct, they were discovered in Devil’s Hole, a not-so-big but very deep crevice in the ground, and genetic analysis offers that they may have formed 60,000 years ago. The Devil’s Hole species at Ash Meadows National Preserve grow to an inch long and breeding males are a beautiful blue. There are more than one species in Death Valley. They are endangered.

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These little guys grow to 2.5 inches and not as blue, live in streams flowing from the mountain by Shoshone, CA.

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The 1-inch long blue pupfish were discovered in this hole 8 feet by 35 feet, (Devil’s Hole) in the mountains with no known bottom. 

There was so much more to see, but it was time to end our vacation. So we came home and I am now attending a writing class, classes on the history of Cattle Kate and James Averil, and using photoshop. My life is as full as my tummy right now. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

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14 thoughts on “Alive in Death Valley

    1. I’m pretty sure I typed a response to you a couple days ago but I don’t see it! Yes it is too bad good things end, but it was nice to get home and Wyoming has had some great weather since we got back so not missing NV too much.

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  1. Beautiful pictures. I visited Death Valley for a couple of hours in summer several years ago. The ground was so hot that the soles of my sneaker-clad feet felt like they were burning. I’d like to go there at this time of year. That’s a great picture of the rabbit. Amazing he stood still long enough for you to get the shot. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Thanks Kathy. I do believe it was a good time to go, although March might be okay yet too. Also sometime when the flowers bloom, but not sure when that is. Yes a coyote and a rabbit posed for me. I was blessed.

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    1. I know. If I could have I would have planned a tryst or some such thing with you! Maybe someday. We do have a hard time tolerating our travels through Vegas though and did get lost a bit for a while as happened to be in a “right turn only” lane when we shouldn’t have been! My husband usually gets out of the area as expediently as possible.

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  3. Those are fantastic photos, Neva. Your trip was so varied as well as the gastronomic parts of it! I wonder about the house of bottles? – would it have been a heat trap, or maybe they cooled it down? Maybe acquiring the bottles was a lot more fun than buying bricks!

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  4. Thanks for sharing about your trip, Neva — I LOVE the hare photo! I see he has black tips on his ears as well as other parts of his body, and those ears are HUGE!! Glad you had that wonderful getaway. You are blessed to be able to enjoy such outings — I hope I can do so as well one day. I hope you’re enjoying your writing class, and I look forward to seeing you Friday morning for our writing time!

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