On January 6, 2017, the 7 rigs headed to Stovepipe Wells Village in Death Valley. After we arrived, set up and registered, everyone sat outside and enjoyed the view of the mountains and the sunshine. Ted and I drove over to Furnace Creek while the rest of the group did a tour of the Sand Dunes. They hiked about 1/2 mile and watched the sunset. After they hiked back to the van and returned to the campground, we went to the saloon for a cocktail before dinner. We had dinner at the Toll Road Restaurant!
On January 7, 2016 we visited the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. We looked at the exhibits, watched the Video and talked to the Ranger. From there we went to Badwater Basin which is 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in North America. My. Whitney is the highest point and is only 84.6 miles to the north west. The area consists of spring fed pool that is undrinkable due to the salt content! The Basin does have animal and plant life! We all ate our picnic lunch before taking the Artist Palette drive. More than 5 million years ago volcanic eruptions blanketed the landscape depositing ash and minerals. The minerals were altered by the heat, water and oxygen. Geologists have identified a paint pot of elements: iron, aluminum, magnesium and titanium, but no copper! The clouds, rain and time of day alter the intensity of colors! After viewing the beautiful colors of the rocks we went to the Harmony Borax Works for a Ranger talk. The Ranger talked to us about the interesting people of Death Valley that led up to the Harmony Borax Mine Co. and the start of the hotel and tourism in Death Valley! While we were at the Mine, Joe and Ardis Schenk and Dale and Pat Pflanzer hiked up to the Natural Bridge!
On January 8, 2017 the group went to the Furnace Creek Ranch for lunch at the 49’er Cafe, shopped in the General Store and toured the Borax Museum. They have almost 70 items to see out in the yard such as an old railroad safe, train engine, 20 Mule Team Wagon and so much more! On the inside they have samples of all the beautiful minerals, rocks and fossils. There was also a Ranger showing how they made Flintknapping or Stone Tools. As the rest of us headed back to the campground, Dale and Pat Pflanzer and Pat and Marcie Bass hiked to Golden Canyon Trail. The hike is a approximately 3 miles round trip. It has gaping canyons, massive boulders and a large red rock called the Red Cathedral at the end! Apparently this is also the site where different parts of the original Star Wars movies from George Lucas were filmed! Later in the evening the Hoover’s invited the group to sit by the fire. The Smith’s, Cook’s and Kercher’s took them up on it and enjoyed the crisp air and conversation for a couple of hours!
January 9, 2017 took the group to Ubehebe Crater, a large volcanic crater one half mile wide and 500-777 feet deep. It is estimated to be 2,000-7,000 years old. The large steam explosion is know as a phreatic eruption. It is a very impressive hole in the ground! After we left the crater we had our picnic lunch and then headed to the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail. The trail is a level 1 mile walk on a boardwalk loop. The Creek would be considered pitiful anywhere else but here in Death Valley it is extraordinary! The salinated stream is home to the Salt Creek Pupfish, a unique creature that can survive these harsh conditions! We were actually able to see these small Pupfish!
We returned to the campground where some of us sat outside enjoying the 70+ degree temperatures, some worked on their RV’s and others took naps! For dinner all but Ida and Les went across the street to the Badwater saloon for cocktails and dinner!