December 10 to 14, 2006 - Death Valley National Park

It rained our last night (the 10th) in Pahrump.  Then we noticed the mountains to the east had new snow:

No problem with snow on our journey.  There were clear skies to the west and a short and scenic 65 mile trip to Furnace Creek Campground in Death Valley National Park:

The park is not crowded at all.  This is the quiet time of the year, it will get busier after Christmas.

This is the same campground we stayed at in December 2004.  No hookups so we need sunshine and/or generator to have enough electricity.  There is water and a dump station available, but we came from Pahrump prepared.

It was nice to have SR190 open this year.  In our last trip between Pahrump and Death Valley in 2004 we had to take a longer and narrower route.

The temperature was about 65, just about perfect.

We had time to drive Artists Drive soon after setting up camp.

We also had time to take Twenty Mule Canyon Road.

Zabriskie Point at sunset.

We attended the ranger talk in the evening about being addicted to Death Valley done by Ranger Lori, who we met in 2004.  Then went to bed.  It was so quiet and so dark.  It also got cold at night.

December 11th we drove to the Charcoal Kilns first thing.

Next we drove to Aguereberry Point.

Evita loves Furnace Creek Campground.  She can climb the mesquite trees and there are interesting smells:

The sunset was wonderful this evening:

This shot is a little blurry, but the colors are wonderful:

The ranger talk this evening was a star talk and we went outside and viewed the stars.  There were some clouds here and there but the stars were very visible in the sky and it was a success. 

Another quiet night and we were comfortable since we added another blanket.

December 12th at 10AM a geology talk at Badwater Basin.

Hopes and Fears Ranger Walk

The ranger talk this evening was by Ranger Dale on the colorful characters that Death Valley attracted.  We really enjoyed listening to him and viewing the pictures.  We were unhappy there were no evening ranger talks for the next two evenings.

December 13th 10AM talk at Harmony Borax Works

Dantes View in the afternoon

Another quiet and dark night.

There was supposed to be a ranger talk at 10AM on December 14th by Ranger Dale, but he was out sick.  Instead Ranger Charlie, who hikes all of the park for fun and is a walking encyclopedia, gave us an impromptu talk around the relief map and took questions:

It was fun to ask questions of Charlie for a half hour, he is a busy guy.  He really likes the relief map since it is accurate.  One story was of him moving a scorpion from the visitors center outside and a roadrunner catching and eating it.  When we went outside, there was a roadrunner:

A hike up Mosaic Canyon

We finished our lunch at the Mosaic Canyon parking lot and went back to the visitors center to use the rest rooms and a roadrunner was making it easy to take pictures:

A woman with one of the $9000 Canon digital cameras and a $6000 lens was following the roadrunner around getting pictures.  The bird never got spooked, it was used to people.

Our afternoon trip to Ashford Mills with Big Horn Sheep sightings

Our last evening we had another wonderful sunset:

Bill went to the post office and caught the finish of the sunset:

Each day was about 65 and each night was about 40-45 with almost no wind.  Great weather for sightseeing.  We had clouds which made for some nice sunsets and other pictures.  The clouds did not help us generate electricity and our best day netted 32 amp-hours of charging, about 1/3rd of a battery and we have four batteries.  We had to run the generator to keep up with our electricity need.  The new battery meter was very useful and helped us so we are glad we now have it.

Death Valley again put us under its spell, just like in 2004.  We were sad to leave it again.  Seeing desert big horn sheep was a real treat.

Ranger Dale recommended the book, Death Valley & the Amargosa - A Land of Illusion, by Richard F. Lingenfelter.  We bought it and Bill read 250 pages in two days (just over half the content), the human history of Death Valley is so arcane and wonderful.

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