Oh my – when we left Quartzsite, we thought we had way more time than before we needed to hit the going-home road . . . a few days at Lake Mead . . . a week at the Escapees Park in Pahrump (I love the way that word rolls around my mouth and the pops off my lips) . . . a quick tour of Death Valley . . . would put us on the time-line to head home.
We checked into Pahrump only to realize that we had lost a week somewhere along the way . . . Long story short we only spent three days there . . . wandered around Death Valley and Amargosa and headed off . . . homeward bound.
Even if geology isn’t your thing, approaching and driving through Death Valley gives you a sense of all the tremendous geological happenings throughout the ages. The valley is a basin surrounded by rugged mountains, both barren and colourful.
Death Valley was formed from debris sliding down the sides of the mountain ranges into this enclosed valley of the Great Basin region.
Death Valley Junction
We revisited Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House that we discovered when we took a wrong turn on our first visit to Death Valley.
Like so many of the small towns in southern California and Arizona, Death Valley Junction was built around mining (borax was mined around Death Valley Junction until the late 1940s) and the railroad. And like so many southern California and Arizona towns, it died.
Apparently in the mid 1960s, Marta Becket, an actor from New York (obviously with lots of money), undertook restoring the opera house and the attached hotel. Being a very creative woman, she painted frescos on the walls throughout the hotel (very folksy) and she and her partner presented performances every Saturday until his death a few years ago.
To our amazement, Marta is still alive and still presides over a Saturday night performance.
The complex is showing signs of age and neglect, but I was assured by a gal (who was working to convert the old barbershop to on art gallery), that they are in the throws of revitalizing the whole area.
Artist Drive: is one of our favourite tours in the Valley.
The impact of the millions and millions of years of geological eruption and settling are everywhere. The Artist Drive takes you up into a unique colourful rock formation. A one-way trail winds in, around and through the lava and sedimentary rock.
One section called the Artist Palette gives a fascinating view of the layers created from the movement and folding of the earth’s crust. Each stratum represents eons of geological time of rain, wind and erosion.
A raven was standing guard at the Palette. He considered it his job to have his picture taken and posed for us as well as at least a dozen other visitors’ photo shoots.
Badwater Salt Flats
After the water receded (billions of years ago) it left some areas smooth and barren and others covered with heavy salt residue. The Badwater Salt Flats, with a well-developed visitor area, is one of the most fascinating salt areas.
The story goes that the flats were named by an old miner who brought his mules there to drink. When the animals refused to drink he named the area Badwater Flats.
The flats lay 282 feet below sea level. There are walks that go for miles out onto the salt. It seldom rains in Death Valley but pools of water seep up from underground springs and dot the salt-white land.
Tiny salt-resistant pupfish are only found here and flourish in the waters.
For millions, perhaps billions of years, the region we now call Death Valley has erupted, flooded, shifted, scorched and revitalized itself over and over again. It has and will always continue to change. Scientists, prospectors and visitors alike are drawn to the mysteries and promises of the valley.
And here we were wondering if we have clean clothes to make it home. Ludicrous, isn’t it?
We made it home on April Fools Day! – Do you think that means something?