Easter Sunday morning found us waking up in the campground in Death Valley. It was our goal to drive thru it as neither of us had been there before and we wanted to see this Death Valley we had heard about. We didn't take many "side trips" in the valley because we knew that would take longer and since it was so hot and we had no air conditioning, we didn't want to be totally miserable. The drive thru the "Artists Palette" area for instance was 16 miles off the main road but well worth the drive. We would have loved to have gone to Emigrant and other areas but they were really off the beaten path so skipped them. We had left the campground at 7:30am and didn't climb out of Death Valley until after 4pm. So as it was, it was a long day.
The Furnace Creek Resort is truly a fabulous place. There are lovely cabins, green grass, tennis courts, laundromat, service station (gas was $4.91 a gallon...we got 5 gallons, enough to get us out of the Valley), a post office, golf course and an air strip to get there. I would love to go back there and stay for a few days. We had our Easter Brunch in the Forty-Niner Cafe'. I have included a picture of the tables & the chairs, they were so unique. And the food was delicious.
The Borax Museum was another interesting place at the Furnace Creek location. I am old enough to remember Ronald Reagan in those old 20 Mule Team Borax TV commercials. This museum is the oldest structure in Death Valley, built around 1883. It was moved to it's present location in 1965 by the Borax Company. The famous 20 mule team wagons hauled the processed borax 165 miles across the desert to the railroad at Mojave. (I can't even imagine what it was like for those men who made that trip over and over again.)
The Devils Golf Course was another interesting spot in the Valley. Lumpy and bumpy is the only way to describe this landscape. I wonder if any covered wagons came over this area ? It would have been enough to jar your teeth loose. You could hear the tiny pops and pings as billions of the salt crystals contracted and expanded in the heat of the day. It sounded like someone rattling a piece of tin or sheet metal.
Death Valley gets an average of 1.9 inches of rain per year. Occuring usually in October. Some years of course there is more rain and it's not unusual for roads to wash out, etc. They say that in spring after an unusually wet fall & winter, the wild flowers are really spectacular. We saw very few, the 2006 fall & winter rainfall must have been normal.
The gift shop at Furnace Creek had many interesting booklets for sale of different historical stories that have occured in Death Valley. The one that caught my eye was called "Julia, Death Valley's Youngest Victim & The Heroic Rescue of the Stranded 1849ers." (All one book) It is only 52 pages...a short read but very interesting. If anyone is interested in this book, contact me by email and I'll give you the information on the inside cover. The people listed may be able to help you obtain a copy.
Sunday afternoon as we began to climb out of Death Valley, we were so glad we had taken the time (and the heat) to venture into this remarkable area. But, we were also anxious for lower gas prices, and cooler temperatures. The town of Pahrump, Nevada was to be the next stop on our journey. I was talking to a friend of mine that night on my cell phone and she made me repeat the name "Pahrump" several times...then said "I've never heard of it...what's there?" Well, it was a charming town and I'll talk about that and show you some pictures next time.