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 > Spring Trip to Death Valley

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Clattertruck

Centennial Colorado

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Posted: 03/28/11 05:59am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The Southwest U.S. is our favorite place for early trips. We had not been to Death Valley since 1995 so we set out to visit again leaving home March 14. The mountain highways in Colorado were dry. We made Moab, UT our first stop. We generally take Hwy 128 off I-70 because it follows the Colorado River though red canyon walls to Moab.

[image]

The light was not good for photos. The sky was obscured by high clouds having the effect of pouring milk in your beer. We like the view looking toward the Fishers Towers and the Monti-La Sal in the background to the south.

[image]
This shot was in July 2010.

After a night at the Moab Valley RV Resort we headed South on Hwy 191.
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Looking back north to the Monti-La Sal the light was better with snowy peaks jutting into a blue sky.

Approaching Bluff we stopped at the Twin Rocks trading post.
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Twin Rocks is a fine store for Navajo art, jewelry, and rugs. My wife, Margot, has been a customer for several years.

Leaving Bluff for Mexican Hat you take Hwy 163. Near the Arizona border is the famous Monument Valley which we have treasured since 1966. Gouldings trading post was there. We did not stop for photos. Below is an image from 1980 when I caught a great sky in later afternoon.

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Goulding Museum, It was the trading post below and living quarters upstairs.
Harry Goulding and his wife Mike found the valley in 1921. They
established their trading post there in 1924. I had the pleasure of talking to Harry for about an hour in 1966.

Crossing into Arizona, nearing Kayenta, is Agathia Peak, which is an eroded volcanic plug. It rises1500 ft.
[image]
The Spanish called it El Capitan.

We headed for Page, AZ where we stayed at the Page-Lake Powell RV Park. Finally we found a place warm enough to sit outside in the evening.


[image]
Ron

[image]
Margot

On Hwy 89 going from Page to Kanab you see to the north the Vermillion Cliffs.
They stretch for some 200 miles.
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[image]
The Vermilion Cliffs are steep eroded escarpments consisting primarily of sandstone, siltstone, limestone, and shale which rise as much as 3,000 feet (915 meters) above their bases.

Our next stop was Las Vegas, which was an adventure. As we entered town on I-15, the freeway was construction everywhere. The Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort was our destination.
The exit we wanted was closed, which stared a wandering search for the Oasis. We could see the sign in the distance, but there seemed to be no way to get to it. Eventually we found the route only after mild hysteria.

I had selected this la-di-da resort because their web site said they had a shuttle to the “Strip”. When we went to register there was no record of our reservation. Next, it turned out that there is no shuttle. Things were going down hill by the minute. What about transportation? A cab ride is only $75. Margot says “no way” we will take a spot for one night and to hell with going to town. The Resort has 900 sites filled with $500,000 rigs and they don’t have a shuttle. Also, the WiFi connection is 6 bucks extra and it is very slow. The whole thing is a giant rip-off.

We walked around the whole property and noted that we were the only folks with a truck camper. Trash people have a way of finding a way in. .
It was not long before we found that the fancy resort is at the take-off end of the airport run way. The roar was constant all night. We closed all vents and windows.
[image]
Here is our pathetic but proud little camper in amongst the big rigs.

We fled the Oasis in the morning and took our little shack to Death Valley under a sullen sky. We went through Furnace Creek and on to Stovepipe Wells where there is a wonderful big-lot campground. Primitive is so good. It was quiet and nobody sneered at us.

[image]

[image]
Tucki Mountain to the south of the camp.

We left camp before sunrise to get early light on the nearby Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. The wind was up during the night collecting dust.

[image]
Sunrise at the dunes. The air was heavy with dust so that looking directly into the sun did not burn up the photo.
[image]

The sun on the dunes was soft, but it was strong enough to give form.
[image]

Nearby is The Devils Cornfield
[image]
The plants look like corn shocks. It derives its name from a species of arroweed whose former roots have been exposed as the ground subsided around them.

Later in the morning we visited Scotty’s Castle on the north end of DV Park. It was a highlight of our trip. We took two tours. One covered the history of how it came to be, and viewing of the rooms. The second tour covered the basement and the construction features. We were there for over three hours and enjoyed every minute. The Park Service presenters were excellent.

The basic story is that Death Valley Scotty (Walter Scott, born 1872) was a con man with gift of gab. He was a showman in Buffalo Bill’s events, and sometimes cowhand and prospector. After making connection in 1904 with Albert Johnston who was a wealthy investor, Scott took him to a site in Death Valley to search for gold. Johnston fell in love with place. His wife Bessie hated camping there so he built a house below a good spring. The house turned in a huge project over many years.


Scott remained as a friend and entertainer for guests and remained there until his
death in 1954. He was the face of the home but never owned it.

[image]

[image]

[image]
Interior tour.

One of the most famous overlooks in DV is Zabriskie Point. The location was named after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, vice-president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the early 20th century. The company's famous, iconic twenty-mule teams were used to transport borax from its mining operations in Death Valley.

One morning I walked up the short trail (not too steep for bad knees). The light was OK for the colorful formations so I burned a bunch of pixels.
[image]

[image]

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The lowest place in DV is at Bad Water, 282 ft, (88 meters) below sea level
[image]
The salt flats with Telescope Peak rising to 11049 ft (3866 meters)

We left DV for the Beatty RV Park, the weather turned to clouds and rain at 47 degrees F. The next morning was the same so we turned toward home. Heavy wind and dust storms lasted all the way to Moab.
[image]
Monument Valley dust storm. The wind was so strong I did not dare to exit the truck so I shot from the window.

Unbelievably , the morning we left Moab, the sky was great with minimum dust We took a run up to Dead Horse State Park where I keep photographing different light conditions of the view. The morning was very good for atmospherics.
[image]
This is about as clear as you will ever see it since California sends bad air to the east.


Ron and Margot


Clattertruck
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eubank

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Posted: 03/28/11 07:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What a very nice report ... and nice photographs, too! Thank you for sharing!
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Lynn


Pics and stuff at my Flickr pages


Thomas/NH

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Posted: 03/28/11 07:19am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well Ron, you may have a "pathetic but proud little camper", but you seem to be enjoying more than the folks in the 1/2 million dollar rigs. You guys in the "TC" always seem to have the best photo essays and fun trips.

As a 30 year member of a local camera club I can appreciate the quality of your work. Outstanding!

mockturtle

AZ

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Posted: 03/28/11 08:36am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Ditto all of the above! Great report, beautiful pics.


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Bleugoat

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Posted: 03/28/11 08:38am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Beautiful pictures. They elevate photography to an art form.

Thanks for posting.


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Less Stuff

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Posted: 03/28/11 08:05am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great report and photos of a wonderful area. Thanks for posting.

We also stopped at the Oasis RV park when we were in Las Vegas last.
They said we Could Not take the camper off so we did not even spend a night.
Found a Boulder Highway RV park that would let us remove the camper. Under $20 a night with full hookups. Very quiet as well. Though at the price it was full of other cheapskates.


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Posted: 03/28/11 10:26am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Your trip looked awsome...Great photos..Thank you for the tour of our southwest...I hope I can see one day too...


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kohldad

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Posted: 03/28/11 11:04am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Another great report from the west. Some spectacular photos making the most of the weather you were dealt. Thanks for taking the time to post.


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Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

Seattle

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Posted: 03/28/11 11:07am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice trip report.
There have been so many good trip reports this spring. I'm begining to feel like a freeloader by not getting out and taking a trip to share too.
J&K


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hikerdmb

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Posted: 03/28/11 11:29am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Those are great photos! I love the Monument Valley pic and the sunrise in DV pic!


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