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Published: September 25th 2015
Yes I know I have stolen a famous quote and it's not the same Valley at all but it came into my head whilst on my mammoth mini bus day trip to Death Valley. ... 450 miles , set off 6.30 am back at 7.30 pm . I wouldn't have missed it for the world, the scenery was stupendous , awe inspiring and way beyond any expectations I had . These small tours are an excellent way to see something special and with such a knowledgeable guide and no driving for me it was perfect. (And thanks Richie and Catherine for giving this trip to me for my birthday pressie).
The guide Ralph was an expert in all subjects and regained us with stories for hours on end ... Explaining the geology ( just my thing as you know) and the botany , about the animals living in the desert, the Native peoples and culture and American history ... And then on the way back we had a little potted history of Las Vegas. So Death Valley is the home of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe and how they adapted to living there beats me. Temperature was 110deg F at Furnace
Creek and often hits 130s in July.
The story goes that in 1849 some emigrants took a shortcut after having bought a map for a prospector and endured two months of "hunger and thirst and an awful silence " on leaving it was said the last person looked down from one of the mountains into the narrow Vallet and said "Goodbye Death Valley". Hence the memorial to the 49ers. We were told that one of them went afterwards and found the guy who sold the map and shot him dead!!! Sounds likely !!
There were plenty of stops at viewpoints to take photos and lots of wows and oohs of exclamation at what we were seeing. The colours of the rocks would have surely inspired an artist to paint and I don't think my photos show the palette of colours truly.
Wildlife ... We were lucky to see a coyote skulking along by the roadside , so that's a first for me to see one and there were lots of wild burros too.
Plants ... Creosote bush, rabbit bush, Joshus Trees to name a few... But there are many species living here I the Mojave Desert.
Here there was plenty of mining ...especially for borax which was used in a myriad of processes .. Soap powder etc.
Check out the motel and Opera House in the middle of nowhere and then Scotty's castle . It turns out that Scotty didn't build it or own it ...he was a rogue and bit of a con man who sold shares in a non existent gold mine but the rich guy who built it became his friend and let him live there. After his wife died in a tragic accident he left and Scotty continued to live there in the castle until he died. We had a guided tour and saw the beautiful rooms with wonderfully carved wooden beamed ceilings and sumptuous furnishing in a Spanish style. Dark and cool interiors were a welcome relief from the baking sun of the Mojave Desert.
Lowest point below sea level at Badwater Basin - 282 feet below . Here the salt of the flats become twisted and buckled and are razor sharp - you would want to walk on it!! and I have taken the liberty of a bit of photo editing to give it a bit of
Not to mention the final place we visited the ghost town of Rhyolite , with its large sculpture of a miner and his penguin - I never did figure that one out.
So if ever in Vegas and want to get away from the glitz and bright lights take a day tour to Death Valley , it's worth every $.
It wasn't on my original bucket list but then I am now making up that list as I go along because sometimes you go somewhere wonderful or do something wonderful,and you hadn't thought about doing it previously or didn't know about it. Does that make sense? Perhaps we enjoy the unexpected travel experiences even more than what's on the Hotspot list . Not quite sure what I am trying to say but maybe too many people are just ticking off a list of places and not really enjoying the moments that come.
Enjoy the photos . Tomorow Suz flies in to,join me and we set off on our road trip to Denver.
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