Saturday, 29 August 2015

Wondrous Death Valley

Arriving in 48C heat we did the only decent thing we could, got checked in and had a cold beer!

The heat was sweltering and we soon had the aircon in the room going at full blast while we had a simple supper of fruit and Cheetos. 

We then sat out in the desert and watched the sun set over the desert a truly wondrous sight of natural beauty. 

We retired to our room for a couple of hours to do some reading - the internet connection being practically non-existent and then went out to admire the night sky. Unfortunately, it was just after full moon and there was quite a bit of haze in the air so even though we could see loads of stars it was not as clear as we had hoped.

We retired to the room and turned off the noisy aircon and settled down for a nights sleep at over 100F, I actually slept very well, but the alarm had been set for midnight so caused a bit of a distraction!

We had our own alarm set for 0615 so we were able to see the sun rise, again an absolutely stunning experience.

We checked out and were on the road for 0730 hoping to get a lot done before the full heat.

Our first stop was at Salt Creek, at this time of the year it is dried up, but before the full heat of summer you can see the unique species of Pupfish here. We saw lots of lizards include this Zebra Tailed that I almost stepped on.

It was only about 100F so the half mile walk saw us only consume a pint of water between us.

We got back in the car and made our way to the next stop - Harmony Borax Works - a glimpse of working life in the desert at the end of the 19th Century.

 Next stop was the visitors centre at Furnace Creek a great display by the parks service detailing the geology, natural history and story of life in Death Valley. This is next to the Furnace Creek Resort that is a sort of Desert Disneyland, although we did pick up some postcards and a rather nice t-shirt that I'll no doubt be seen sporting soon.

Turning off the highway we drove to 'Devils Golfcourse' at Badwater Flats the lowest point in the continental United States at over 200ft below sea-level. Stunning scenery of salt deposits that strech for as far as you can see.

Making our way back towards the main road we diverted along the Artists Drive loop, where geology has seen fit to display a huge palette of colours from buff and umber through roses, blacks, and greens, it really is beautiful and I wish I had a polarising filter to really show what we saw.

We stopped at the Artist Palette viewpoint, does not look much in this picture but there are reds, greens and a multitude of colour visible.

After the Artists Palette we drove up to Zabriskies Point and marvelled at the panorama visible from here!

Our last stop before leaving Death Valley was at Dantes View, another elevated view point, much like Zabriskies Point overlooking Death Valley.

Before leaving the park we stopped for a final shot. It really is a stunning place!

We then picked up the highway for Las Vegas and drove through some stunning countryside that makes me want top play more Dead Mans Hand.

Arriving at Las Vegas we found our hotel, The Venetian and first impressions are that this really is not for us and we have made a terrible mistake coming here, crowded, noisy, tacky, brash and expensive!

We had a wander along the strip and saw the volcano show at the Mirage which was impressive.

We have not done any gambling and I really doubt we will but hopefully things will pick up tomorrow!

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