Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Death Valley, California

We have spent two days and two nights in Death Valley, California. When we left Victorville to make the three hour drive here we had no idea where we would stay, and nothing booked. So we stopped at an Inn outside of the Death Valley region, actually just over the border in Nevada, and slept overnight in the inn’s RV park. Finally we had some electrical hookups, and access to a laundry. So we spent the afternoon washing laundry, filling our water tanks and emptying the sewage etc. The Inn had a very large pet cow in a pen near the RV sites, so the kids took a walk with Dan to visit it. The cow was extremely friendly as they fed it dried grass. I was tired so I took a nap while they walked. They discovered a huge fish pond, and a metal cow which was so big that they stood under it and pretended to drink from its udders!

The following morning (Monday) we drove into Death Valley National Park with no idea what we would see here, or where we would stay. Eventually we found a resort called Furnace Creek Ranch, which amazingly had one RV hookup space for two nights. It’s usually booked out in advance, so we were lucky, and it wasn’t too expensive at $29 a night. The ranch has a general store, steakhouse, museum, horse rides, cafĂ©, tennis courts and a warm spring water swimming pool which he made much use of. The actual RV sites aren’t that nice, but at least its in Death Valley, and has hookups so that we can put the air conditioning on.

We have taken two drives through Death Valley. One heading north and west, the other south. We drove up to Stovepipe Wells and stopped to walk across the sand dunes. The sand here is very hot, unlike the white sands in New Mexico. In the summer Death valley can reach temperatures of 140 Fahrenheit, so people tend to come here in the springtime when it is more bearable. Today it was about 85, which was nice enough. We pulled over near Salt Creek and took a walk across the desert to the salt lake there. As we got closer to the salt, the ground started getting very crunchy underfoot. Barney loved the sound of it. He wanted to eat the salt but I wouldn’t let him, for obvious reasons.

Today Dan pulled a muscle in his neck whilst making breakfast. I know, you wouldn’t think breakfast time would be so strenuous, but the poor guy has spent the whole day in agony. So I did the driving and we went southwards to the Badwater Basin. Badwater is a salt basin 282ft below sea level - the lowest land in America. The basin fills with water, but because it is so extremely hot here the water evaporates, leaving a huge basin of white salt. The salt crystals expand and contract to make different patterns and shapes in the ground, which constantly change. Jimmie wasn’t feeling great so he stayed in the RV while the rest of us trekked out into the basin. Some of it still had water in and little pup fish could be seen swimming around. For some reason the area was abundant in ladybug’s - there were millions of them flying around, despite a complete lack of plant life. They kept landing on us. Barney and I saved a few from drowning in the salt water.

As we headed back towards our RV park we took a detour onto the Artists Drive. The road was tarmac (most of the off roads here are gravel so we cant drive down them in the RV) and allowed vehicles up to 25ft long. We were delighted as our RV is exactly 25ft long. The one way drive was spectacular. The mountains looked like they were made out of fudge or chocolate. Some of them looked like marble cake, with so many colours ranging from black, chocolate brown, all shades of beige, cream and honey, to green, blue, pink and burgundy! The view from the top showed the salt basin bellow, which looked like white snow. As we went further on we arrived at the ‘artists palette’ which really did look like mounds of artists paint in all the colours I mentioned before. The road down from the artists palette was such fun to drive and Dan was disappointed that his neck wouldn’t allow him to drive. I thoroughly enjoyed driving. The road wound through tight caverns and crevices. At times it seemed that the RV would not make it round the tight bends, but thankfully we made it without any scratches. Heaven help anyone above 25ft in length that tries it!

This afternoon after the drive we came back to the resort and made use of the hot spring water pool. The pool really was warm, like bath water. Dan sunbathed outside the pool as his neck was still sore, but the kids and I spent three hours splashing about in the pool. Barney pretended to be different animals (fish, turtles, crabs and swimming coyote and reindeer!) and taught me how to swim like them. Then he spent two hours playing with some new plastic bugs that we bought him. Annabelle made friends with a little dutch girl, aged about 4. And Jimmie and I had a fab time throwing each other about in the pool, swinging each other about and swimming under each others legs etc. When we got back to the RV he gave me a kiss and told me ‘thanks Mum, I had a really fun time’.

Tomorrow we head to Las Vegas. Once again we don’t know where we are sleeping. But as always, its sure to be an adventure. Oh yes, by the way, last night I saw a wild coyote wandering around outside! I was so excited to see one, after hearing them howling so many nights.

Oh, one more thing. I found out today that my blog was featured on a travel site. If you want to take a look at it you can click here.

1 comment:

Davy said...

Cool! I'm not surprised you're featured on a travel site, as your blog is a lot more interesting and potentially helpful than most guide books. Great work!