Posts Tagged With: death valley

Day 29  – Inyo National Forest 

May 20

As the days went on in Saline Valley, the temperature kept increasing, so we decided to leave on the afternoon of May 20. For me, it loses a lot of its appeal when temperatures are up over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

We took the north pass road out. There are several places to camp along the road before you hit pavement. At higher altitudes, it is generally cooler.

The drive was uneventful. We passed up the sites that were in the Juniper-pinon pine forest.


We finally picked a spot in the Inyo National Forest with a view of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains.

Except for the bugs, it was an ideal place to camp.

The sunset on the mountains was beautiful.

After applying bug spray, we drank wine by the campfire watching the sky darken.

Dinner was good, too.

I did wake up early enough to catch a photo of the sunrise. But I wasn’t willing to go outside to take one. So, this the one from inside the camper.

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Day 26 to 28 – Saline Valley Warm Springs

May 17 to 19

Jon next to the Saline Valley Warm Springs sign

We have been visiting Saline Valley Warm Springs since we were living in California about 17 years ago. 

Photo from 2002.

The Saline Valley Warm Springs is a very relaxing way to spend a few days.

The problem at this time of year is that it is often very warm. Think over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We were fortunate that it wasn’t nearly that hot when we were there, but it was still really warm.

So most of the daytime was spent at the lawn. Jon had a chance to enjoy his hammock.

We walked around in the cooler parts of the day.

I prepared several nice dinners.

We met a number of very nice people. One of them designs, makes and sells crocheted items.

Crochet by Netanis

I spent most of the next couple of days watching the animals and working on blog posts. No internet, but a chance to at least write a few.

There were the low flying military jets from the nearby base. I was pleased to get a good photo this time.

The wild burros were around as usual.

No matter how friendly they seem, they are wild animals and can be dangerous. Fingers look a lot like carrots.

This little girl was careful not to get too close. 

One of the burros from last year had a three week old foal.

I took a lot photos of lizards. There are at least a couple of different species.

Zebra-tailed Lizards

Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard

I watched the birds and tried to identify them and got other people involved.

I was amazed to see a green heron there. Herons are birds that eat mostly fish. There aren’t lot of fish in the desert.

This time it was fishing out of the outflow of the fish pond. There are wild rabbits around, too.

We saw quite a few yellow warblers.

And brown-headed cowbirds.

And one that had me stumped. Later it was identified as a common yellowthroat.

We did have a four inexplicable birders come out to try to locate a kingbird. They were equipped with expensive looking cameras with telephoto lenses and hand-held radios. They ignored all the people and ran around trying to find the birds. They left after about a half-hour. Keep in mind, it takes most of the day to get to the Saline Valley Warm Springs on really washboard roads. We all found them very puzzling. 

We had a very relaxing few days, but the heat kept increasing, so we headed out on May 29th.

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Day 26 – Driving to Saline Valley 

May 17 

The next morning, Marc and the other XP vehicles were going to continue on the South Eureka Valley Road to Steel Pass and then down into Saline Valley.

We’ve gone through Steel Pass in other vehicles, but the Robinson Fuso is too big to make it through. So we were going to take the Saline Valley Rd. to enter the valley from the north on roads that can handle larger vehicles.

After all of the washboard yesterday, I wasn’t looking forward to the inevitable washboard today. The roads did take us through some pretty areas. There were lots of wildflowers blooming along the road.

We passed through a section of high desert with Joshua Trees.

The road also winds through a Juniper – Piñon pine forest.

We stopped at canyon where there is an old, abandoned mine. Jon took a hike while I took photos of the area and wildflowers.

We were buzzed by a low flying jet. 

The road then drops down into the Saline Valley which means a lot of more washboard. The Fuso began having problems going up the hills. We stopped and Jon discovered that the strap holding the truck’s batteries had come loose. A strap would do the trick for now.

One of the problems with washboard is that all the vibration causes everything tries to work its way apart.

We reached turn off for the Warm Springs. The palm trees are visible from a long way out. We stopped at the Bat Pole for photos of the Fuso with her new look.

When we got to the Warm Spings, it was evident that Marc, Adam and Dean had not made it to the Warm Springs. We set up camp and relaxed.

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Day 25 – Death Valley National Park

May 16

An incredible sunset

Death Valley National Park

The next day we drove through Nevada to reach Death Valley National Park. It required driving through the endless traffic and suburban sprawl.

We stopped in Pahrump for supplies before taking Highway 190 into Death Valley.

It is a good way to get lots of picturesque views of the park.

The weather was very cooperative, too. It was hot, but in the 90’s hot rather than the 100 + temperatures. And it wasn’t windy. A couple of years ago, we were here during a big dust storm. Even once the storm was over, there wasn’t much visibility for at least a week.

The air was clean so we could see all the important features, like Zabriskie Point.

The iconic, vintage Furnace Creek Inn was currently under construction. We stopped at the Visitor Center. Their sign claimed that it was 92 degrees. The displays are interesting.

We stopped by the post office to mail a letter. How many letters have a Death Valley postmark?

We continued north following the Scotty’s Castle Road up to Grapevine where the road to Scotty’s Castle is closed. We continued up the Death Valley/Big Pine Road to Eureka Dunes, our planned campsite for the night.

After following us most of this drive, Marc and the guys went ahead.  It didn’t take Marc and the other vehicles to get out of sight. 

This section of the Death Valley/Big Pine Road is gravel, not paved. As expected, it was almost all washboard. It was a bone jarring experience. Thank goodness the views along the way are interesting, especially from a landscape and wildflower perspective.

We caught up with them, not too far from the turn off onto South Eureka Valley Road. They had been stopping to take photos of the Cube and the other two XP vehicles.

Since the light was fading, we headed out to Eureka Dunes.

The XP vehicles took off in front of us again.

The light on the mountains as we came into Eureka Valley was beautiful.

Eureka Dunes are in an enclosed basin. They are appropriately three miles wide by one mile deep. At over 680 ft, they are the tallest sand dunes in California and among the tallest in North America. One unusual feature is that under the right conditions, they sing.

Eureka Dunes

One of campsites was occupied, but all the others were available. We picked one near the end.

We took several photos of the area.

Marc cooked a very fancy dinner which included filet mignon, asparagus and a grilled Caesar salad.

We all ate and drank well and went to bed.

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