Sunday, November 25, 2007

Death Valley Days

Death Valley NP has the distinction of being the first national park we visit on this journey, we hope to visit as many as possible. On our way here we drive through the Hawthorne Army Depot, one of the largest munitions storage facilities in the world.It's chilling -- acres of bunkers, some camouflaged, more underground. We're on the "other" 95.

The park is huge, over 3 million acres, the largest NP outside of Alaska. We walk some but don't do any real hiking. We drive miles and miles, coming in at Death Valley Junction and beginning at Zabrinski Point. We view Dante's Inferno, 287 ft. below sea level,the whitish cast at the bottom is dried minerals. At Furnace Creek there is a GOLF COURSE! the green is surreal in the middle of the desert. in a few days the 49ers reunion will begin and some folks have arrived early. The landscape changes as we drive through -- it's not at all boring. There are ruins of old mines, and some still mining borax. Just before sunset we get to Scotty's castle, built in the 1920's in the style of an old Spanish Hacienda for Albert and Bessie Johnson. It's like a bit of southern California in the mountains; the presence of a spring allows for growth of palms, cedar, flowers; there's a pool and guest house, chimes tower and courtyard. Painted tiles are everywhere. It all seems lovely and gracious. Scotty was a friend of Albert Johnson and quite a character. Bobbie has a long chat with the rangers, we're the only visitors by now. A tour guide couple impersonating the Johnsons tells us about their 15 years as RVers; for the past 5 years they've worked in the NP during the winter. On our way out of the parking lot we see a coyote and wonder why Molly doesn't seem to notice!

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