Monday, November 18, 2013

A Day in Death Valley, NV & CA

One day is certainly not long enough to see - really see and experience - Death Valley National Park, which spans the Nevada/California border.  Our initial plan is not to go into this huge national park, but as we pass through Beatty, Nevada, we stop at the Chamber of Commerce and ask "What ELSE is there to see in Death Valley, where we've been twice before?"  Lots!

Death Valley is basically in a low-elevation bowl that is surrounded by mountains.  The lowest elevation in North America is here, at Badwater measuring 282 feet or 86 meters BELOW sea level.  Hot air gets trapped in Death Valley and makes it the hottest place on the continent.  And today, when we visit, it is about 20F warmer than the town of Beatty on the east side of the Amargosa Range.
The ghost town of Leadfield on Titus Canyon Road - two buildings and some tailings. A national park sign reads "This was a mining boom town founded on wild and distorted advertising. 300 hopeful people swarmed here and a post office was established in August, 1926. In February 1927, the post office closed and the town died." The WILD west!
Strange, twisted rock layers in Titus Canyon. This was an incredible drive on a 4x4 road that took us across the desert, down a steep switchback, up another steep switchback, past the ghost town, and through a narrow canyon - a "vehicle slot". Very picturesque, but also busy with traffic being a Saturday.
A stop in Titus Canyon where fast flowing water undercuts the rock and there is a white rock, possibly quartz or dolomite, mixed with the darker rock.
Brad at Ubehebe (pron. OO-bee-hee-bee)Crater. Half a mile across and over 500 feet deep, this was a volcano cone. The heat of the rising magma turned water inside the volcano into steam and the top exploded, sending rock flying in a six-mile radius.
Marilyn at Scotty's Castle, standing in front of the empty swimming pool. Death Valley Scotty was a scammer, previously an entertainer. He convinced a few investors from the east to fund his gold mining scheme. One investor, Albert Johnson from Chicago, insisted on seeing the mine; but when he discovered the scam, he wasn't angry at Scotty, he befriended him! Al built the castle in Death Valley as a retreat from Chicago. He and his wife visited often. Scotty lived at the castle and he and Al remained friends throughout their lives. You can read the whole, strange story about Scotty and Al on the National Park Service's website.

Trailer troubles - when we pack up to leave Beatty on Sunday afternoon, the landing gear motor just stops mid-way through Brad extending them to allow us to hitch up to the truck.  The landing gear is at the front of the trailer, used not only to level us front-to-back, but to bring the trailer level with the hitch in the back of the truck.  There is a hardware store across the street from us, and I go buy a new fuse (it's a really tiny one and Brad doesn't have a spare), but this doesn't fix the problem.  So it's hand-cranking time, but we get it done!  However, it's now too much work to un-hitch using the hand-crank, so wherever we go next we'll have to stay hitched and not use our truck.  Next stop is the Amargosa Sand Dunes, then Red Rock Canyon outside of Vegas; but we'll have to skip Red Rock Canyon and head into Vegas after a day or two at the dunes (where we don't HAVE to un-hitch) to get the trailer fixed.

However, while at the dunes, Brad traces the problem to a second fuse at the battery.  Fortunately, he carries a supply of these ones and voila!  Fixed.  "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy!"


  1. I find Brad both handsome and funny! Love Scotty's Castle. Snowing here right now (and we're overdosing on Rob Ford!).

    1. Lynda, it's a quote from the Red Green Show, which Brad makes me watch every morning while we're down here. Only our "redneck" friends will get the reference. And Brad's VERY handy - I always say he can fix anything!

  2. btw Lynda, I forgot to mention that there was a fire next to Scotty's Castle last May. No damage to the buildings as the wind was, thankfully, blowing the other way, but numerous trees were lost.