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