Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spring Break in 2016 - Death Valley

Death Valley, CA
Super Bloom of Wildflowers
One more item off my "Bucket List."
 Photo Overload

 Above. This looks like a water color painting, but was taken out of the front window of our moving car. There are really that many different colors of rocks in the hills. And dirt. There was no clouds to make shadows. I think I will call those the Calico Hills of Death Valley. I don't know what they really are. But the rocks were very impressive. So were the plains of flowers.
 We began in an area where we got out to pay for a pass in a kiosk.  But we also needed to use the bathroom. Well, I didn't, but Mike went in to the pit toilet and nearly gagged. His clothes were permeated with the stench! YUCK! But the flowers were beginning to become more visible, as you can see from the photo above. I think that was taken out behind the kiosk, while I was waiting for Mike. We ended up NOT paying there (partly because of the smell and we needed to get away fast ) but mostly because people over age 62 qualify for a Golden Pass, good for your lifetime, for only $10. So we waited and went to a visitor's center and purchased that at Furnace Creek.
 Outcroppings of rhyolite on the desert floor. Mike and I both enjoy geology. There is a lot here--and it's ALL very visible!

 Here's a "Badlands" kind of area. Just lots of different colors of dirt and rocks. This is one area where they did some Borax mining in years gone by.
 I wish I had a way to edit this photo here in blogger to point out those two strangely-placed boulders in that slanted piece of the mountain, but here it is again, below, zoomed in.

 We walked up this little path at Zabriski point to the overlook. Below, there is a line of people heading out on a hike through the badlands. I wish I knew how to put an arrow on this photo below to point them out to you.

 You can find them right near the edge of where the pink begins, near the center of the photo.

 And then, after viewing the film in the visitor's center and paying for our pass, we headed north on 190 to see vast fields and plains filled with these Desert Gold flowers.

 And they just grow in rocks and sand. They seem pretty happy.  The reason the flowers are so great this year is because of a 3 inch rain storm last October. It also damaged Scotty's Castle, one of the tourist spots in Death Valley. It was closed, so we didn't go that far north. Since it was a DAY TRIP for us, that was fine. I wanted to see wildflowers, go to the lowest point, and we did!
 So did a lot of other people!  Lots of people were on the roads, lots of people were at the visitor's center, lots of people were in the campgrounds, lots were pulled off the road photographing the wildflowers.
 You could see the fields full of yellow gold and drive on by. Or, if you stopped, then you would see more. And if you looked closer, you would see even MORE!  In some areas, it was pretty hard to walk around and not step on a wildflower. Pretty amazing. Even the rocks had a great variety.

Yellow Carpet on the Valley Floor

 Some, I think, were past their prime. The photo above is of dead petals gathered by the wind next to the side of the road. Below is the type of flower I think some of them came from.

 Above. Nice cute little ground cover. This covered an area of about 5 x 7 inches.  Like I said, you had to look CLOSEly and step carefully.
 Here are some mica-filled rocks.  They were so sparkley.
 When I opened the car door after Mike pulled over for me, I stepped out onto this little cutie. Almost stepped on it, anyway.

 The cactus were just about ready to bloom.
 This is something called a desert five spot. I think. It's bowl-shaped and quite cute. The flower is about an inch and a half in diameter. Maybe two inches at the most.

 Yes, I know I have a big finger.  But the flowers were just that tiny.

 Purple, white and yellow, with textured leaves on the shrub below. And there were probably tinier things below that I didn't take the time to look for.

 I like this series. It was a white little ball I hadn't seen before. Different elevations reveal different flowers. When I changed to the macro-zoom and took the photo below, I didn't know until viewing it later on the camera that  I'd included a little red spider in the shot, too! That was a happy little surprise.

 I took pictures of the signs at the Sand Dunes. This one told how sand dunes occur, since most deserts HAVE sand, but not all have sand DUNES. Interesting.

 There were quite a few people walking around on the sand dunes, waaay far out there. Check out the variations of colors in the far mountains in the zoomed-in shot below.

My failed attempt at getting the elevation sign and us in a 'selfie.'

 Mike snapped the shot below of the Sand Dunes as we were leaving. They were big. He just took this out of the window of the car while we were driving.  One nice thing about THIS national park is that because it's so big, the speed limits are quite fast. (60mph)

 We traveled down to Bad Water, the lowest spot in North America. The sign above is posted WAY above the valley floor, about in the middle of the mountain.

 Salt crystals on the floor.

 I didn't actually have him pointing at that "Sea Level" sign from my perspective. It's half-way up the side of the mountain. Sorry you have to tilt your head. Don't know how to edit once it's this far.

 It was 79 degrees in Death Valley.  Perfect.  Sunny, breezy, nice. Looking North-ish from Badwater.

 I loved this strange, BRIGHT ORANGE stringy growth that was covering a number of shrubs. I have no idea what it is, but it was on different sizes of shrubs. This one is about 2 to 3 feet wide. Maybe a fungal growth? A type of flower? It wasn't on all of them, just some. It was like hair.

And then some mountains just had funny streaks of white running through them. Don't know what that was, either.  Mike guessed gypsum.  Death Valley is truly a geologist's delight.  We are semi-knowledgeable about geology and enjoyed seeing alluvial fans, striated rocks, volcanic stuff and sedimentary things.

We left Cedar about 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, drove there and ate a picnic lunch I'd packed while we perused the map given to us at the Visitor's center. We just ate in the car, out of the breeze. Then we picked our route to drive, took lots of photos (less than 100, all total). Saw some cool stuff, then headed out of the park by 3 or 4. We drove back to Las Vegas, ate out with a gift card given to us at Christmas, then got home by 9:45 pm.  A lot of driving, but a lot of fun.
Happy Spring Break!


Britnee Autrey said...

Ooo the desert five spots are so pretty! I think I liked those the most! What a fun trip for the two of you!!!

Donna said...

Very nice. We have seen a few smaller bloomings in the desert, but not that big!! Impressive! The orange plant I've seen before while 4x4ing in Vegas. It's dodder ( )

Katie said...

That's quite the day trip, but it looks like it was a lot of fun.