As mentioned, we plan on getting back to some of the fun things we did in Death Valley when we were there a few weeks ago, but since that is taking me a little more time than I thought to get down digitally, I thought I would throw a quick one in here.
Death Valley was extremely desolate, yet incredibly beautiful. A lot of people thought we were crazy for going there in October – they were pretty sure it was going to be way too hot. But we were frankly surprised by mild temperatures, high 80’s during the day and mild high 70’s during the nights. We even had a little rain on the night we arrived, something not seen that often in Death Valley. Little did we know, it was going to get a lot worse.
We arrived on the evening of Saturday, October 17th and woke up to a beautiful day on Sunday. We were visiting the park with Shelley and John Carpenter, so we headed over to the Visitor Center, and then to Scotty’s Castle which is quite a ways away from Furnace Creek where we were staying. I thought it would be best to hold off until Monday, thinking that the weekend might have crowds but, luckily, I was talked out of that plan.
Instead, we went up to do the tour, planning on hoofing it over to Ubehebe Crater afterwards with the hope of seeing one more cool thing before the day ended. We were the last tour through the Castle, and the rangers were closing the gates as we left. Who knew we would be the last people on tour there for some time to come?
On the way out to Ubehebe Crater, we suddenly came upon a row of parked cars. The road was impassable.
As you can see, there are quite a few cars on the other side of the road. In the end, about twenty people spent the night on the other side in their cars. We spent about a half hour there just looking at the raw power of water, rock and sand as it crashed over the road. Anyone caught in the wash would have been pulverized by the force.
We went back to camp, had a marvelous dinner, and then walked out onto the golf course after dark because there was an amazing lightning storm over the northeastern mountains. We sat on one of the greens while our dog, Pippin, ran around the golf course, and spent about an hour witnessing an unending display of lighting. There was pretty much never a moment when the sky was not lit up.
That night we went to bed not knowing that the storm we had been watching was huge. Half the roads in the park would be closed come morning. The road to Badwater – CLOSED. The road to the Racetrack – CLOSED. And Scotty’s Castle? Much worse than we could have imagined – closed for up to twelve months. Here are the details.
It’s a shame to see such destruction in such a wonderful place, but we are grateful that we were able to see it while we were there. As we spent the next couple of days in the park, we ran into lots of people, some who had come from as far away as Ireland, who weren’t going to be able to go to some of the Park’s best places.