Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park, previously the lands of the Timbisha Shoshone Indians, was a quick pit stop to Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. We enjoyed two days in the Park. Unfortunately, the pet policy at the Park is on the stricter side compared to some other parks. So Dottie really couldn’t enjoy much with us and had to stay in the car. So as a result, we popped around the Park and quickly enjoyed the sights before the car got too hot.
The weather was terrific. Sunny and 70’s. However, at times, it felt much hotter. We could not imagine what the Valley would feel like during the summer. We felt fortunate because we caught the Park at the beginning of the wildflower bloom. On one of my walks with Dottie, I collected wildflowers to create a miniature bouquet for Whitney. She used the flowers to adorn Sage’s dashboard. After having experienced so much cold weather, we welcomed the warmer temperatures and signs of Springtime.
Death Valley is a somewhat ironic name. The diversity of life we found there was incredible. The wildflowers were one thing, but our favorite was the pupfish. We learned that they got their name due to their puppy-ish playfulness. Against all odds, the pupfish thrive in the salt creeks of Death Valley. They are endemic to two locations in the Park and are considered endangered. As we walked along the creaking boardwalks above the Salt Creek, we savored the sounds of the flowing creek water in the otherwise dry desert. To experience running water in Death Valley was another special gift from the Springtime climate.
We were impressed by how much infrastructure was out there. Besides the National Park, there were multiple hotels, campgrounds, a golf course, restaurants, and stores. I enjoyed an oasis-like courtyard with lush green grass and palm trees on our first afternoon. I realize that the courtyard (and not to mention the golf course), with its obvious necessity for water that is no doubt funneled in from somewhere far away, is entirely problematic. But something about it drew me in like a weary traveler in search of the first inkling of shade after having been desert-bound for weeks on end. The ice cream cone I enjoyed was also fantastic.
Before we knew it, we had to leave. We were zoning in on visiting friends and family in Gardnerville, NV, Lake Tahoe, and San Fran. So after ascending multiple thousands of feet from the lowest place in North America, Sage finally had us on highway 395 headed North. After a while, Mount Whitney and the other craggy peaks of the Eastern Sierra popped out onto our horizon and quickly had us entranced. I was thrilled to sit back and watch the landscape change.