Six days in Death Valley and surrounding areas
April 21 - 26, 2003
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|On our fourth day, we took another 5 mile
off-road trip to visit the
Wonder mine which was discovered in 1903. This is an interesting
gold and silver mine in that it had a tram where loaded ore buckets from the
mineshaft coming down the mountain would pull the empty ones back up.
There are pieces of silver-laden ore laying around.
a ghost town in Nevada about 30 miles from the mine. It is just
another ghost town but across from it was a weird outdoor museum with these
statues of the Last Supper. The artist molded sheets around live
people to make these "things." Betty couldn't resist getting inside
one of them.
|After driving through
I'd describe it as a one-way one-lane 27-mile 4-wheel drive test road.
Once you are on it you can't turn around and you'd better hope that it
doesn't rain - or you might get stuck in the mud, slide off the mountain, or washed out the canyon!
It's quite spectacular, but the driver better pay attention to driving and
let the passengers do the "oohing" and "ahhing."
|Well Ray had enough off-road driving so we took
to the freeway to Pahrump, Nevada. Wheeler Pass is about 15 miles
North East up a straight-line gravel road from Highway 160. We found a
spur road and camped overnight. Hardly any wind, nobody around, and a
beautiful area after seeing nothing but rocks and Creosote bushes in the
desert. Lots of Joshua trees with snow-covered Mummy mountain in the
distance. When we left it was a breezy 37 degrees. As we drove
down the road we noticed they'd posted signs that they were having a road
race there that day. We got out just in time!
|As much as Ray was tired of 4-wheeling, he
couldn't resist driving to see Saratoga Springs as we passed through the
edge of Death Valley again. The book said it was only 5 miles and was
a beautiful oasis with lots of wildlife. Well it turned it was more
like 10 miles over more washboard and it wasn't nearly as spectacular as
|We've all heard of a mirage. Here's a
photo of a nice lake in the desert - which vanished as we approached it.
It looked so real that Betty said "See the boat moving across." ... and Ray
|With the dog deal up in the air, the terrible
off-road roads, and the wind, we were told by the ranger to visit Granite Mountain
and find a nice private spot back among the pines and boulders. This
was a perfect spot. With a light breeze, we pitched out tent
between this boulder that would provide a nice wind break ... just in case.
|For dinner, we had pasta with clam sauce.
As a Piece-de-resistance, Betty made us this
chocolate cheesecake decadence. She's such a good cook.
the sun set over the hills then crawled into our sleeping bags around 8:30
pm as it got dark. Gradually the winds started. Surprisingly,
they glided over the boulders and through the crevices; gusting from all
|By 9 pm the tent was shaking violently and it continued all night. Based
on the measured wind we get at home, I'm sure the winds were over 30 and gusted
to 40 mph. During the night, I had to get up several time to retie down the
tent. I didn't really get any sleep but Betty got some. By 6 am it was
light enough to pull up stakes, pack the truck and get out of there! It was windy
all over the desert.