So we're back from Death Valley and I have to say that was one of the best trips of my life aside from my 14 y/o daughter's attitude. Will post pics up soon-there are quite a lot of them. Three cameras worth clicking away all the time.
Day 1 was from Vegas to Beatty, Rhyolite, and Furnace Creek via Titus Canyon. The weather from Vegas to Beatty was quite windy and my tonneau was coming up on the rear right corner. Secured it with both a bungee and tiedown. Beatty is a desert rat town IMO. Filled up and initially passed Rhyolite. So glad we turned around and checked it out. Now that is some serious DV history. Sad to see the original pictures and how it was booming once so long ago. The art there is great and leads to some fun photos. While I was there another taco pulled up. He had a white access cab with King suspension. I asked him if he was gonna run Titus Canyon with the current possibility of rain. He had no issues and said he would be there in about 30 minutes. So since someone was gonna be running the canyon after us I decided it was worth the chance and I am so happy to have experienced Titus Canyon. The road to the actual canyon part is much of the length. Some desert flat road leading up to a windy road through picturesque scenery. When you get into the canyon part it is incredible. If you are able you should definitely experience this road. Once out of the canyon we headed to Furnace Creek to check in. I didn't make it to the Natural Bridge, Badwater, or Artists Drive (closed), just too tired after the long day. Had dinner in the 49er Cafe, over priced of course but good none the less.
Day 2 was long as well but well worth it of course. Filled up the Taco then picked up my interagency pass from the visitor center and checked out the very small and quiet airport. Oh yes I shall fly out there sometime just to get a different vantage point on DV. Packed up and got on the road north. There is some road construction going on in certain areas within the park and delays for one way traffic happened about three times. We stopped at Stovepipe Wells and hiked up Mosaic Canyon. This is a small slot canyon which has some awesome rock formations. Hell everything seems interesting in DV. Had lunch at the Toll Road and it too was pretty good for what it was. Cheaper than Furnace Creek too. Also, the small motel seemed better from the outside than the Ranch at FC. Continuing on I made a wrong turn at the Ubehebe turn off and wound up at Scotty's Castle. Again, I'm glad to have seen the castle even if we didn't take a tour. I will be back to check it out more another time. Once on the road to Eureka Dunes we were to enjoy the long washboard road. Holy crap that was intense. A jeep was heading the opposite way and we could see him miles out. Got to Crankshaft Junction and headed West for the dunes. This part of the drive got smoother. It is windy and more like a mountain drive. Passed some mine remnants which were very interesting. Then on the way down to the final turn to the road for the dunes the road is actually paved. It is strange, there are portions which are paved here and there, then there are long stretches which are not. Arrived at the dunes to find there are stone picnic tables with fire pits and grills. We got the last open spot and set up camp.
It took some time to get everything unpacked and while my gf started dinner I kept at the set up and unpacking...well after some photography. It was a little breezy and my mosquito net for the truck was blowing all over the place. Later we enjoyed some wine and a fire. About 11pm we decided to go up on the dune. Laying there under the stars above the campgrounds was incredible. I can't believe more people don't talk about or do this. Try it and you will have a memory for life. Guess it has been too long since I've seen that many stars and never from such a vantage point. I do regret not doing any night photography but it was very cold and I pussed out.
Day 3 started before day break when my daughter asked me to set up the camp toilet. I was attempting to share the beauty of the natural world with her but just don't think she took it in that way. Did some morning photography with the sunrise from the mountains east of the dunes and also the dunes of course. We had breakfast and got all packed up. I tried out the camp shower and will recommend the Porta Privy from Outback over the Guide Gear pop up shower. They looked almost the same online but the porta privy supposedly has pockets inside for stuff and outside for sandbagging it to make it more heavy. If you get one make sure to use the tent stakes because ours blew down and tipped the toilet over...thankfully no crap was in it, just urine which was cleaned off when I showered. Too much info? While packing up we were treated to two A-10 Warthogs doing maneuvers. I'd heard jets for a while yet none were in sight. These two seemed to be using us as targets and they would dive right towards us and then peel off over the mountains and dunes. It was great and I regret not getting any video of it and only a few pictures with my point and shoot. We set out towards Inyo and that took about an hour passing through some snow speckled mountains. Found the entrance to Saline Road up there too. Got to the 395 and made our way back to the OC.
Couple of questions for those of you have spent some time in DV. What is the usual technique for the washboard roads? About 5-10mph or 40 and above. In Steve Greene's book he says either are ok but the high speed will take a toll on a vehicle. When we were on our way to Eureka Dunes the initial stretch of road was almost all washboard. I started out at around 5mph but just couldn't stick with it so sped up to 40 and above. Saw a couple of passenger van/Subie style vehicles on their way out back towards Ubehebe (which was closed ) and they were hauling ass so I figured what the hell. It is fun yet un-nerving going fast on those roads. All kinds of rocks hitting what I hope are my sliders...haven't had a close look at the Taco yet. Taking it to get cleaned up in a couple hours after I get most of my pics selected on photobucket.