Sunday, November 29, 2015

Death Valley, day 3

At 282 feet below sea level Death Valley is the 8th lowest depression on Earth and the lowest in North America.  It was something that we didn't want to miss so we drove to Badwater Basin in the morning.  

The name Badwater comes from the 'bad water' here.  Although there is a spring it mixes with the salt making it undrinkable. 

Badwater Basin is a vast salt flat.  
I even ate some salt after Eric sparked my interest by telling me it wasn't as salty as he thought it would be.  
For the record it is exactly as salty as you would think it would be.   

And that is all she wrote.  It was time to head back home and face the reality that is work.  

I don't think a trip (as incredible as it was) would have been complete without seeing the infamous wild, wild horses.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Death Valley, day 2

We decided to rent a 4WD vehicle to explore more of the desert, with one place in particular on the agenda- the Race Track.  The Race Track is 2 1/2 hours away from the Jeep rental.  High clearance vehicles are recommended due to loose gravel, washboard and rocks.  4WD is sometimes required due to changing road conditions and irregular maintenance. 

The drive alone is beautiful, full of cold Joshua Trees after turning onto the dirt road by Ubehebe Crater.  

(Just in case it is noticeable, my boots became a temporary tripod).  

The Race Track the road around the playa, a large ancient lake bottom (which used to be 30 feet deep 2,000 years ago).  On one portion of the playa are wandering stones.  These rocks move as a result of ice sheets which melt in the morning sun and push the rocks little by little. It used to be a mystery until recently (originally thought to be moved with wind, rain, and ice).  
Once again, science takes the fun out of 'unexplained' phenomenon.  

You couldn't see from the pictures and my wonderful poker face (picture face) but I was extremely frustrated.  We spent an exorbitant amount of money on a Jeep and it wasn't even necessary.  There were people in Subaru's on the road to the Race Track.  Eric's truck would have made it with no issues.  Luckily we figured out that if we continued on the road that we were on (instead of turning around) it turns into Liponcott road, which is recommended for experienced four-wheel drivers only.  With a few other turns we could make a big circle, which sounded a lot better than wasting our Jeep money.  

The drive was so gorgeous, simply unbelievable.  We only drove by two other vehicles on Lipponcott Road, and almost on one else on any of the other roads.  


The drive was pretty intense for a bit but I didn't capture it well.  There were some technical portions, and I was sure glad that I was not driving.  
We definitely got our money's worth.  Especially since we drove 192 miles and were alotted 200. 

 I had read that the road through South Pass is sometimes closed and that chains are required during winter but it is remarkable how quickly the scenery changes.  Although we didn't have chains the roads were not iced over and this part of the drive was easy with 4WD.  In fact, we even passed an old motor home on the road.  We don't know necessarily that they made it but there was one.  

20 minutes later...

On the other side of the South Pass it looked like this. 
Death Valley is amazing.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Death Valley, day 1

Neither Eric or I have ever been to Death Valley, so naturally it has been a point of interest since it is just five hours away.  

Although we had been checking the weather we were still surprised to find so much snow in the driest place in North America.  

Our first stop was Mosaic Canyon. 
The canyon formed from water running through faults that formed millions of years ago.  

The name of the canyon comes from the breccia (sedimentary rock made from large angular fragments).

Erosion has made the layers of the lithosphere visible.  

Earth's processes continue to this day but the most dramatic effects are tens of thousands to millions of years in the making.  

We were going to go to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes but it looked like a line at the bank so we went to Historic Stovepipe Well instead (on the back side of Mesquite Flat).  The dunes were not as dramatic but there was no one around which made them a hundred times better.  

Death Valley is the largest national park outside of Alaska, so I think that all of our pictures should look like this, peopleless (not including us).  

Today was the perfect introduction to Death Valley.  

Surprisingly, less than 1% of death valley is covered with sand dunes.  This area has the ingredients necessary for sand dunes to form; sand, wind, and a location for the sand to collect.  

Beatty, NV was our home for the night, and Thanksgiving leftovers were on the menu.