Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We’re Off to Death Valley National Park

We got an early start this morning.  We packed a small picnic lunch, grabbed our park information and headed out for a day of adventure packed fun. 

George has said for years he wanted to visit Death Valley National Park.  I, however, thought with a name like “Death Valley”—it might not be our most exciting stop.  Anyway, picnic in tow, we head toward the park. 

When I am wrong, I admit it… OK, maybe I don’t—but this time I will… “I was WRONG”.  After spending the day in the park, I can say it is on my list of “must see” spots in America.    Despite the gloomy name, Death Valley is a land full of color and a wide variety of landscape.  We were able to see indescribable color and rock formations.  We saw badlands that almost seemed like another planet surface.

As we drove into the park, I found myself repeatedly saying… “Stop, I need a picture.”  Rising out of the ground are small hills of rock.  I am sure geologists would spend hours telling me what the rocks are and why they are “poking up”. 

We saw white long streaks on the faces of the rock walls.  We later found out the white streaks were Talc.  Talc was one of the very profitable substances mined from Death Valley.

One of our first stops was at the Badwater Basin.  This area is the lowest point in North America.  It is amazing to realize we were standing at 282 feet BELOW sea level (Our house in Colorado Springs was at over 6,500 feet above sea level.  Other than a small, almost pond like, area of water, the area was a flat salt surface.  In the sun, the salt glistened like crystals.


There were spots where holes had been dug—probably people trying to see the depth of the salt flat and when the water starts.   The salt surface is about 8 inches thick before the water started to pool.  When we walked on the flat, it was obvious that it was not solid.  It flexed when we walked—like walking on a rubber mat.

We took the beautiful drive to Zabriskie Point.  There is a steep, but short walk to the top--it was definitely worth the effort.   It is an amazing view of wildly colorful badlands.  

We drove through the loop, “Artist’s Drive”.  Never in my life have I seen rocks of these colors.  It was a 9-mile scenic drive the featured rock formations and hills of Red, Pink, Green, Blue among the rust and brown canyon walls.   It would be easy to just explain this area with details about volcanic activity or minerals that have deposited and aged—but it is more than that.  Although they call this “Artist’s Drive”, I have a hard time imagining an artist palette that could do this justice.

We stopped at the “Devil’s Golf Course” viewing area.  This is an immense area of salt rocks that have eroded into jagged spires and rocks.  The National Park books say “Only the devil could play golf on this surface”; thus the name.  Although it was easy to see that these rocks were sharp and would cause significant bodily injury if you were to fall; there were people that thought they had to walk out to get a “better view”.   You can’t fix stupid.  (And by the way, the view would have been NO different out there.)

A few interesting tid bits at the end of our day… at one place in the park we hit a temperature of 101 degrees, before we left the park we had visited another area with an 80 degree temperature.  This park is so full of extremes—hot and cold; and the extremes of high and very low.  We saw amazing color and flat desert landscapes.

At the end of the day we realize it is a huge blessing to have these constant reminders of the Glory of our God.
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