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Our Days in Death Valley

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

We left Bishop around 11 am with Larry’s bakery goods in hand. The drive to our next destination was only going to be about 3 hours so there was no rush to get on the road. I was feeling like my cold was leaving me but Larry was still pretty sick. I think this was when he couldn’t hear out of his right ear or maybe he just said that so I would stop talking. Whatever!

We were heading to Death Valley for the next few days. I was pretty excited for a few reasons. I had never been there and had heard so much about the beauty of Death Valley. Also, when we drove over the Tioga Pass, I purchased a National Park Pass and Death Valley is a National Park. Return on my investment! Park entrance fees range between $25 and $35 and the annual pass was $80. I just need to go to 3 parks and I Win!!

We drove down highway 395 for a bit and stopped to take some pictures of Mount Whitney. Someday I will climb it like we climbed Half Dome but not this trip. We visited the Ranger station and the restroom when we turned onto Highway 136. It was very nice and we collected some information and maps. Back on the road, I was driving again. The road was great and I couldn’t get lost. There’s only one road to Death Valley. We make a short stop to climb a trail up to look down into a valley and take a break. There wasn’t many places to stop to see things so we kept on trucking. Our last stop before we got to the valley floor was at the top of a steep hill. We had lunch and stretched our legs. We did some people watching as many travelers rested here. Just as we were getting ready to leave, a car stopped and let off a couple of backpackers. They unloaded their belongings and said hi to us. We chatted and they had accents but their english was good. They had just hitched a ride and were traveling in the same direction we were heading. We of course offered them a ride. We found out Pedra and Wade were from Czech Republic and had been traveling Canada and the States for the past 15 months. They had obtained a work visa for the time they spend in Canada so they could work when their money ran out. They began their trip in Toronto and made it to British Columbia before they had to find some work. They did everything from working in a fishery to house cleaning to cafe/barista work. They camped, stayed in hostels or in homes of people they met along the way. They were a beautiful young couple probably just out of University and were postposing entering the workforce. They had great energy and were very helpful when we told them we were still looking for a campground to stay at. They showed us the Ioverlander App and told us they were going to backpack into the dunes at Mesquite Flats. It’s a day use park but they can camp if they go a certain about away from the street. They said that we should just boondock as the App said that many folks had done this in the recent past. Boondocking is parking and staying for free. Free was good for me. We got to Mesquite Flats at 4pm. Pedra and Wade were at the end of their journey through the states. They had plane tickets from Los Angeles on November 11th to fly home. We said goodbye to our new Czech friends.

This place was great! It was going to be a perfect place to stay and at a great price. They had bathrooms too. We could use our generator if we needed more power and lots of water in our tank. We were good! We went out to explore the dunes and it was really cool. The temperature was hot but the dunes were amazing. We decided to make a picnic dinner and come back with some beer. We stayed out there til we ran out of beer and it started to get dark. Back at the trailer, we noticed a van beside us that had set up a table outside to eat dinner. They were spending the night too. All things were good. We had set up our folding loveseat and sat out in the dark eating popcorn and having more beer. When it was dark, it was really really dark. You could see all kinds of stars everywhere. It was still very warm. We decided that clothes were not necessary and continued to drink beer in the loveseat outdoors. Then I heard an interesting sound a few feet away. When I shone my phone flashlight to where I heard the sound, we saw a little Kit Fox. He was eating my popcorn duds that I threw out in the bush. So exciting!! I quietly went inside to get my camera and flashlight. I brought a few bread slices out too. We tossed pieces out to the fox. Larry put the flashlight on him and I was able to get some great shots. We decided to go inside for more bread just as someone came around the corner with a flashlight on us. The person identified herself as a Park Ranger and I dashed back inside to get clothes on. That made her worried….maybe like I had a gun. I said I was gathering my clothes. She asked us if we were feeding the wildlife. We said no. She asked if we were camping at the day park. I said we were just resting. She didn’t ask us if we were drinking…...but told us we needed to find a real campground and gave us a map to Furnace Creek campground. It was about 30 minutes away and they had plenty of room for us. I guess we were plenty lucky and Larry was good to drive. Our first run in with a Park Ranger since Hague, Saskatchewan. Again, I was topless drinking beer at the river. Seems like a pattern is starting to develop.

Furnace creek was our home for 2 nights.

We were on a tight schedule to get through the states before the first week in November. Larry only had about 38 days left to be in the good ole USA. He had already spent most of his 180 days earlier this year. I would have liked to spend more time at the parks we stopped at but we needed to get Larry to Mexico and fast! The one full day in Death Valley was Full!! Even though Larry was pretty sick(I’m sorry, we don’t have time for that) we dashed around doing a lot of the major sights. This involved a bunch of walking and hiking. First on the agenda was a really cool saloon south down Highway 190. We drove and drove and Larry doubted that we would ever find it. It was the Crowbar Cafe and Saloon in Shoshone.

Larry gave up around Mormon Point. We turned back to go to Badwater Salt Flats.

We walked the mile in the extreme heat to the center. It was so vast and fascinating. We spent a fair amount of time here until we ran out of water and then got back in the truck to the next stop. Just up the road was the Natural Bridge so we stopped to hike up the mile to see it.

Luckily we had more water. I really enjoyed the hike and the rocks. I took lots and lots of pictures. We spend a few hours here. I wanted to do the Artist's Palette drive.

It was simply amazing with all the different colors of rocks. It hard to explain and I hope some of the extraordinary colors come through in my photos. Larry got to rest while driving except for the 2 stops along the way. It was a nice break. The last place we had time for was the Golden Canyon Hike.

That was 2.9 miles and we started kinda late in the afternoon. It was an out and back trail through a canyon. It wasn’t too bad of a hike but Larry was getting grumpy and tired. Then we were working against the impending sunset too. I continued to dottle and take pictures. We made it out before dark. Larry survived all the hiking in the heat. It was only 95 degrees or so. We made it back to camp, didn’t have beer that night, kept our clothes on while outside and didn’t feed any of the wildlife. Kinda boring way to end our last night in Death Valley but maybe our adventures in Las Vegas will be better. We are heading there next!

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