Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Death Valley 2012 part 1

So, the Grouch family minus two decided to go with some friends to Death Valley national park over  the President's day long weekend.  Surprisingly, this holiday weekend is one of the busiest for the park, most likely because the weather is mild and a person doesn't melt to a grease spot under the scorching sun of the summer.  Also suprisingly the summer is the most popular time for foreign visitors to the park.  The only foreign looking guy we saw there was someone who looked like Junior Samples complete with bib overalls and tractor baseball cap.

We took the trusty Jeep due to promises of off roading in the park.  The passengers in the back complained about the noise and drafty conditions but only when we stopped.  When we were driving it was too noisy to hear what they were saying.

We headed up Califronia route 14 through Red Rock state park.  Truly some impressive rock formations to be seen from the highway.

From highway 14 we took U.S. 395 through some spectacular scenery.  This is where we stopped for a roadside lunch picnic.  When my family drove to Florida each summer when I was a kid we'd do the same; stop along the highway at picnic tables set in turnouts for roadside meals.  We'd eat with the semi trucks hurtling by on one side and cows with their heads over the barb wire fence on the other watching us as we ate.  No picnic tables here.
Our lunch spot.  It was so quiet and calm with hardly any traffic that it seemed like we were the only people around.  The stillness was amazing.
We made it to Death Valley and we were on our way to our first sight - the sand dunes.  As we climbed a long and steep grade we came across these cyclists who had pooped out.  They couldn't make it any further and they had a long way to go.  Our friends took one bike, we took the other and the cyclists rode in the pickup.  they are from Cleveland and had flown to San Luis Obispo and were cycling to Las Vegas.  We were glad to give them a hand up the hill.  When they got to the top they unloaded and rode down the long grade to the motel where we were also staying.

The sand dunes near Stove Pipe wells.  Young son looking for Lawrence of Arabia in the dunes.  Later on he re-enacted the scene from "The Princess Bride" and threw himself off a dune, rolling down the hill and crying "as you wish!"  We appreciated it since it is one of our favorite movies.
The altitude limbo.  How low can you go?  We started at about 6,000 ft before coming into the park.
Lowest!  282 ft below sea level!

The young daughter and friend at Badwater basin.  About half  way up the rockface is a sign that indicates sea level.


  1. Great pictures so far, but it looks like you might need new glasses. That is young daughter and friend in the last picture.

    I didn't know there was such a thing as Read Rock State Park. Now I do!

  2. By George, you are right. I fixed it and I do need new glasses!