I had a good time in Death Valley this year. Bummer that none of you could make it, but it is what it is. I spent the first couple of days with about 14 other people, some of whom were little ones. This is probably only the 4th time in my life that I went to the Furnace Creek Inn for their annual Easter egg hunt, but it still proved to be amusing. Since a lot of us have posted so many pictures from here in the past, I'll only post a few & hopefully they'll be different.
This was at the Inn on Easter. The girl in the bunny suit is apparently quite the slut from what I heard from numerous people there:
My best friend's niece:
I've told people over the years that they have never truly experienced the concept of wind until they encounter it in Death Valley. So many times in the past, I'd sit there and watch as fully loaded dome tents went rolling off into the desert. We had 1 day of really good wind, so I wandered the campground to see how many tents were left. Not many. About the only ones that survived were the ones with super beefy stakes and a few hundred pounds of weight inside, although they would still be bent flat. Here's one sample of what I mean:
I had 12 serious stakes holding down my tent, so I had no problems. But, I had to pull out the rock pick to dig out the stakes on the last day because I just couldn't get them out. One of them busted in my hand and made a 1" gash in one of my fingers. Pretty sure I would have needed stitches, but super glue and 5 bandaids did the trick.
4 of the 6 days I was there were spent exploring. One of the days we drove out to Rhyolite & then did Titus Canyon. On the way to Rhyolite, it was hailing on us & very cold (the only day of cool weather).
Looking at Telescope Peak with storms approaching:
And a few from Rhyolite:
Another day took us out to BFE, but it was still fun:
The day after Carl had his mishap, we drove out to the Racetrack. Naturally they were doing construction, so we ended up having to stop twice and just wait. I'd say we spent probably a good 2.5 hours of waiting in a line of cars that stretched more than a mile at each stop. Pretty lame.
Here's the new sign at Teakettle Junction:
This sign was new. They had new water "troughs" at the campgrounds for washing dishes. There is now an actual paved pullout and large parking lot at the sand dunes, instead of previously only being able to pull off into the dirt on the side of the road. Death Valley must have received about 20 years of maintenance/improvement money, because things were new everywhere.
Here's the actual racetrack:
We continued southeast of the racetrack and did a bit of exploring on small tracks/trails. We came across this old mine & a couple of guys in a jacked up Toyota came by a few minutes later. They were very impressed that I made it over the trail okay, because it was pretty bad (according to them).
A few minutes after leaving this mine, I realized a few seconds too late, that I was pretty sure we just drove over a rattlesnake. I backed up & it was indeed a rattler, although it was completely flattened by my tires. Still wiggling around though. We drove up over whichever mountain pass it is that leads back down to Saline Valley. Well, that was interesting because a lot of the road was covered in snow (most of the road is in the shade), and if it wasn't snow, then it was just tons of mud or streams of water. Made for an interesting drive. Found a nice little meadow with a number of springs up on one of the mountains:
The sagebrush on the road into this spot was probably 4-5' tall, and it grew out & over the trail. All we heard for a few miles was this awful screeching of the sagebrush grinding along the sides of my poor pathfinder. When we got to Saline Valley, there was a big sign in the middle of the road facing the other direction. When we passed it & looked back, it said ROAD CLOSED. That would explain a lot.
The last day we were there, we drove out to Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge, which is east of the park in Nevada. Pretty nice area & they also have the rare Pup Fish like they do in Death Valley. We couldn't do much else in the park because a lot of the roads were closed because of construction. On the way back in, I noticed these brialliantly orange bushes that I had never seen before, so we stopped & had a look. Must be some type of vine, something from another world, or something else entirely. There were no roots at all, they just entwined around any bush that happened to be there, from cacti to sagebrush. If there are any plant biologists here, I'd love to hear your theory. Looks like some sort of Italian pasta to me:
EDIT: the plant is known as Cuscuta (Dodder)