Friday, December 7, 2012

Death Valley

Death Valley is just about 70 miles from Tecopah Hot Springs, so it was just a short move up to Sunset Campground.  But along the way we did stop a few times.
They coyotes are not only out in the daytime, they are not afraid of the cars either.

In fact, they will go right out in front of the cars, expecting the cars to stop so they can beg food.

At the south end of Death Valley National Park is what remains of Ashford Mill.  In 1914, gold ore from a mine 5 miles east, was processed here.

If you look hard, about 3/4 of the way up the rock you can spot a sign, noticeable by the differing color from the rocks.  It says:  Sea Level.  I was looking up 282 feet to spot this sign.  Badwater is the lowest point in North America.  But if you think this is low, the Dead Sea is over 1300 feet below sea level.

Badwater was so named when travelers noticed their animals would not drink the water.  As the water seeps to the surface, it becomes tainted with the alkali and salts on the ground, making in undrinkable.
Since we arrived several days before the encampment started, we had lots of time for exploring.

This is 20 Mule Team Canyon, which was part of the Monte Blanco Mining area.  Buildings located along this road were moved to Furnace Creek in 1954, where they now house the Borax Museum.  Even though it carries the name of 20 Mule Team Canyon, it was never part of the route taken by the 20 Mule Team when it was hauling borax.

Another scenic drive is Artist's Canyon.  Although I can never capture the beauty or the variations of color with my camera, I do believe you have to be there at just the right time for the sun to really highlight the true artistry of this canyon.

Zabrisky Point

Overlooking Death Valley from Chloride City.

Now a ghost town, Chloride City was founded in 1905 after the Bullfrog, NV, gold discovery brought people to this area.

There is a mine shaft at the rear of this building.  Some mine shafts are blocked, but many are still open and it is at your own risk if you venture in.

Furnace Creek Ranch, privately owned, is located within the national park boundaries and managed by Xanterra.  Last year, Xanterra built a six acre solar array.  The solar panels follow the progression of the sun throughout the day.  The 5,740 panels provide 2,300,000 kilowatt hours per year, being fed directly into the grid, not stored on batteries.  Even so, this only provided about 1/3 of the electricity required at the ranch.

The large date palm field on the ranch.  Sadly, no one tends the dates, they drop and the ground and go to waste.  Date trees can produce an average of 100 pounds of dates per year, but I guess Xanterra doesn't find it economically profitable to harvest these dates.  Instead, they buy dates from China Date Ranch so they can sell date shakes at their restaurant.

Furnace Creek Ranch has over 200 rooms or cabins, as well as some full hook up RV sites.  There is also a post office, general store and gift shop, restaurants and a stable, all built around a golf course.  Furnace Creek holds the world record for the hottest place on earth, 134 degrees back in 1927.

Harmony Borax Works.  The processed borax was hauled from this location, 165 miles to the nearest rail spur.  This is where the famous 20 Mule Team hauled loads of up to 40 tons, through the dry death valley.  The trip took about 10 days and all drinking water for the mules had to be hauled as well.

About the nearest town to Death Valley is Beatty, NV.  And yes, prostitution is legal and it is well advertised as you drive down the road.

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