Twenty-one members and five guests turned out for this trip that had been in the planning for months. We had three days and two nights to explore and photograph some of the most interesting places in the valley.
Most of us began the trip with breakfast at the Blue Bird and then caravanned up to Olancha, where we met up with a few more members of our group while we had another bite to eat.
We all topped off our gas tanks and headed east toward Death Valley, staying in touch with each other using our walkie-talkies, which came in very handy.
We made quite a few stops along the way at anything that interested us. There were several particularly nice overlooks before we even got to the valley
Our timing allowed for a quite leisurely drive and we arrived at Stovepipe Wells with the sun well above the horizon. Most of us had some ice cream while we lingered around waiting for the sun to get lower.
Finally, we headed on over to the dunes to get some great photographs while the sun was just at the right angle. The ideal time only lasts for about twenty minutes, so we all found a good position just before sunset and took full advantage of that perfect lighting.
By the time we got back to our cars, we were all getting tired, as it was a little over a miles walk each way from our cars to the dunes and back. We were also getting hungry and had reservations for dinner at 7:00 pm in Beatty. Over dinner, we all exchanged our stories of the day and finalized our plans for the next day. The restaurant was at the Stagecoach Hotel and Casino. We were so pleased with the food and the service that we decided to return to the same place for our other meals.
There were a several rare conditions existing at this time that caused us to deviate from our original plan of going to Scotty’s Castle and Ubehebe Crater.
First, the wildflowers were in abundance south of Furnace Creek, then Telescope Peak and the adjoining mountains all had a beautiful snow-cap, and finally, Badwater had a large amount of water as a result of all the rain. The combination provided a beautiful reflection of the snow-capped peaks in lake at Badwater.
This meant that we needed to leave really early in the morning to get from Beatty to Badwater before sunrise to catch the first rays of light on the snow-capped peaks.
A few of us were too tired to make this portion of the trip, but the rest of us were in the parking lot at Badwater, and just as it was getting light, we headed out to the shoreline to position ourselves just right. The ground all along the shoreline was soft and muddy with a layer of salt and was difficult to walk through.
One of us ended up falling into it (what a mess). We stayed here for a while as there were numerous photo opportunities besides the reflections. There was an unusual mountain-side behind us, lots of abstract patterns in the lake bed, and good people shots.
Since we planned on breakfast at 9:30 at Furnace Creek, and still had extra time, we then headed south to look for some of these flowers we heard so much about. Well, we drove and drove stopping at some pretty nice spots, all the while watching the clock since we didn’t want to be late for breakfast. Our navigators weren’t quite sure how far away we were from the spot we were looking for though, so we finally made a U-Turn for the restaurant at Furnace Creek.
We found out later that we were only about one mile from Ashford Mills, which was the best flower location in the valley.
Those of us who exited the valley on the southern route were able to catch this on the way out.
We had a very good breakfast, then took a tour of the museum while getting more info on the valley. Afterward, we went in different directions. Some went back to the dunes, some went after more good flower locations, and some headed for the ghost town of Rhyolite. Rhyolite had quite a few interesting ruins to work with. It also had an old railroad car and other unique relics, not to mention the old Bottle House, which just by itself was worth the trip. Most all of us were tired after getting up so early and wanted to rest a little before meeting again for dinner.
We enjoyed another great meal Thursday evening. Friday was more loosely planned. No-one had the energy to get up really early again, so most of us enjoyed a late breakfast together, with the group heading in different directions afterwards. We all arrived back home safely with some great photographs and memories of a wonderful trip.
Thanks to Dean Webb and Lou and June Hoffman for all their well thought out planning and hard work to make this trip such a success.