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Published: April 3rd 2013
Otherwise you just wouldn't know the differance
The two bus loads of binocular equipped Germans perched at the top of Zabriskie Point looked like Afrika Korps scouts sent by Rommel’s ghost to locate prime 88 artillery sites on Death Valley’s flat expanse for some future installation. Germans appear to be the tourists de jour in all of the US National parks that we have been to to date. Flush with Merkel muscled geld they leave no stone unturned in their search of the elusive American dream. Ein land. Ein Volk. Ein Euro.
I have to be honest. The only reason a guy my age is even likely to think of going to Death Valley is because of all those hours spent as a child in front of the black and white Zenith listening to Ronald Reagan going on an on about brave cowboys and the importance of Borax in our lives. Today there aren’t any 20-mule teams in sight. In fact, outside of some wildflowers and alkali there isn’t much of interest here for the non-scientific type.
Hell. I've got a degree in science and it didn't do anything for me.
Death Valley is National Park lite. During our time here we never saw a
Nobody Comes To This One Either
Originally built as the town hall it was converted into an opera house by some hippies in 1967. Now abandoned.
Park Ranger nor were there any entry gates. If it wasn’t for the simple road sign designating the area as Death Valley you’d not know the difference. Entry fees are collected at an automatic kiosk next to a malodorous outhouse. Karen had the foresight to buy a book that covers all of the US National Parks. This weighty tome has been an invaluable resource on our tour. In it is a very detailed map of the major viewing areas in the Valley. Your Guide To The National Parks by Stone Road Press $25
The first place we went to was Dante’s View which offers a panoramic look at the Valley floor. It is reached by negotiating a winding 12 mile long two-laner. Vehicles over 25-feet long are barred from the road. After visiting the peak you have to come back down the same way. There are outhouses near the peak but no concessions or water are available. Make certain that you’ve filled your gas tank and brought water with you before you arrive. Death Valley is not a place to run out of gas. We entered the park from the Nevada side. In the town of Pahrump there’s a
very nice Wal-Mart where you can stock up on goodies as well as a number of gas stations to fillerup at fair prices. Zabriskie Point is another popular spot as it is right on the main road and accessible to tour buses. There are a few short trails from there through the surrounding badlands.
Furnace Creek looks like an oasis in the middle of no-man’s land. It offers a high priced, park run hotel and sells gasoline at $6 per gallon. You can’t miss it. Everybody speaks German there. It’s the only place in the park with palm trees. There’s also a ruin called Scotty’s Castle and an old borax mine and you can see the spot where the original wagon train full of misfortunates who discovered Death Valley when they took a short cut, ended up burning their wagons and converting their oxen into beef jerky to survive. I like jerky.
But Boy! It sure sounded better when Ron Reagan described it.
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