Wednesday
Nov302011

« Into the Valley of Death, redux »

Ubehebe Crater

I have no idea what I will do with the 900+ pix that I shot on the trip Kelli and I just took for the entire Thanksgiving weekend. I hope I can get them into a gallery here, but I like to do some color correction and stuff. So it will take some whittling down before I even attempt that. And you can forget about captions. Last year's trip to Death Valley resulted in about 750 pix and I think I pruned about 250 outright.

This year we took an extra day since Kelli didn't have to work, so we bailed town on Wednesday night and returned late on Sunday. Sandwiched in between was a night in Bakersfield that set us up for a Sequoia/Sierra drive that got diverted due to ice, but was nice nonetheless. It had its surprises as we drove toward Lone Pine via Lake Isabella. A night in Lone Pine on Thanksgiving was a quiet one that set us up for a drive part way up the Whitney Portal. (the closed roads led us to want to call our tour the "Road Closed Tour" but later on with the wild swings in elevation, we called it the "Up and Down Tour.") Then we headed eastward into Death Valley for a bit of late afternoon sights on the way to Beatty, Nevada where we stayed two nights and made our base for a couple days. Saturday was a day full of new adventures as we drove the magnificent Titus Canyon and then saw Scotty's castle and the Ubehebe crater. Sunday was a pass by Rhyolite, a ghost town in Nevada near the border, and then a reprise of our favorite spots from last year: Zabriskie Point, Badwater, Artist's Drive.

The White Donkey at the threshold of the Titus Canyon drive's intense sectionWe really like Death Valley. This time around as we were combing the map for points we might get to, we realized how much there is, particularly off the paved roads. My truck is fit for some of it, but we're already anticipating the right way to see this is to rent a 4x4 truck for a trip and get into it. We were hoping to get to the Racetrack, the totally mysterious place where rocks seem to glide across the lakebed over time, and no science so far has been able to really explain exactly what is happening. Various voices encouraged the drive in my truck, and others not, so we erred on the side of caution and instead took the stellar and challenging Titus Canyon drive—a sometimes harrowing, usually washboarded serpentine drive that is 24 miles long and has just one lane going in one direction. I let Kelli drive some of it but all the way was fearing my street tires were not up to the job of this drive. But we got through. It was amazing.

Badwater

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