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This is the hottest, driest and lowest place in the Western Hemisphere.
Meet the The Mojave Desert. We have visited the Chihauhaun Desert, the Sonaran Desert and now the Mojave Desert. We only have one desert region left- The Great Basin, which is considered the largest.
Here is a link to the park map for Death Valley. Some parks also have Park Newspapers, I love these because they have so much more information in them that isn’t found in the standard park map. I just discovered there is a digital copy as well. Here is a link Death Valleys Park Newspaper. This park even had a promotion, if you went on two of the hikes listed you could get a free Death Valley decal. This promotion was only written in the park newspaper. We stopped by the visitor’s center on the way out on the second day to pick up our decals we earned (they asked us to show them pictures of our hikes to prove we went) and for the girls to get their Junior ranger badges.
I suggest looking at these before you visit a national park because often the visitor’s center is in the middle of the park, like this one.
Death Valley National Park is where you can find the lowest place on the Western Hemisphere. It is 282 ft below sea level. If you look closely at the second picture below, you’ll see the sea level marker on the rock wall and then you can see me standing below.
Ever heard of Star Wars? If not, it’s a series of movies you should check out. The very first one made, The New Hope, was filmed here in Death Valley. AKA Tatooine. We hiked the Golden Canyon where R2-D2 rolled down the canyon and we hid under a rock cave where a Jawa once hid.
We also hike the Natural Bridge Canyon. This was a steeper hike and if you hike about 200 yards past the natural bridge, you will find a waterfall (it was dry while we were there).
Harmony Borax Works
Ever heard of slime? My kids make it all the time! One recipe for making slime calls for Borax, well this is the location where Borax was discovered. Borax can be found in the laundry detergent isle of your local grocery store.
There was a little water in it… we walked out to the water to look for Pupfish. This species of fish is only found here and is endangered. We were disappointed not to see any.
We drove out to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and walked where R2-D2 and C-3P0 separated in the desert, at the beginning of the movie, also on Tatooine. The next planet we will visit is Endor in the Redwoods of California.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
We played a fun game of hide and seek on the sand dunes. All the trees you see in the pictures are Mesquite Trees. While we were walking through the dunes (we headed East away from the crowd of people going straight- we always take path less traveled) the girls spotted tracks for kangaroo rats, lizards, and snakes. They tracked down a kangaroo rat path and found it’s home which was a hole in the sand. They are nocturnal animals that only come out when it cools down.
Furnace Creek Golf Course
Chris played his lowest round of golf… lowest elevation that is! This the lowest elevation golf course in the world and one of the 50 hardest courses. He enjoyed a little time by himself doing something he enjoys.
Devil’s golf course
This is an area where the mud and salt harden after the water evaporates and forms this hard spiky rocky basin. It’s so hard there is a sign that says you can seriously injure yourself walking on it if you fall. Obviously that didn’t stop us.
The Oasis at Death Valley
We stayed one night in the park because there is no cell service in this desolate area so we needed to stay at an RV park outside of Death Valley, during the week, where we could get service.
We had dinner by the pool (warm spring fed) then Chris played in the pool with the girls doing ‘jumping beans’ while I went to the ranger led night sky program.
Fun Fact: My friend,Cara, told me that her alma mater, Clemson, has a rock from Death Valley they call, Howards Rock, that the football players rub on game day for good luck. The nick name of their stadium is ‘Death Valley’ because other teams go there to die.
Scotty’s Castle (in Death Valley) was closed because of flood damage. It won’t reopen until 2020.
After exiting the park, heading east, there is a cross road called Death Valley Junction. This building used to be a Borax distribution center, now it’s a motel (Amargosa) and has a small cafe that we decided to eat at. Despite the outward appearance, the food was delicious.
This is the extent of the town, it was built with the hopes of being something big and the promise that the railroad was coming. It never came and the Borax plant closed after 5 years.
We found a place in Pahrump, NV (outside of Death Valley) to help pack meals for underprivileged students that don’t have access to food over the weekend. It was at New Hope Church on Wednesday night. Our hearts were filled. We were working so hard we didn’t take a picture.
We had a nice clubhouse at this park that we could use as our classroom. We enjoyed playing pool and shuffleboard. It rained once while we were here. It is very unusual for rain here this time of year. We have only seen rain four times, in four months, on this trip; Saint Augustine, Montgomery, San Antonio, and here. Two of those were because of IRMA. The rain here covered those mountains, in the background, with snow, it was so beautiful to wake up to that Wednesday morning.
Since we have no play room for rainy days… the girls play in the bathroom😳. #reallife
Mackenzie was able to Skype with her classroom back home this week! She gets nervous being the center of attention but she loves seeing all their sweet faces. Abby wishes she could do this as well, but middle school doesn’t work the same way.
Abby has read the Hunger games series this week so we’ve been doing Katniss Everdeen hair braids every morning.
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