Saturday, March 28, 2009

Death Valley ~ Day 1

Ok, I'm back with a continuation of yesterday's story of our travels. I left off last night with the picture of the sign at the entrance to death valley. (And the picture of the coyote! LOL) After heading down the road from the sign, we came across an area that had a lot of wildflowers in bloom and of course we had to stop and take a look. There were lots of purple, yellow and white flowers blooming on both sides of the road. I looked at one of the wildflower books in the Visitor's Center, but I couldn't really identify what kind of flowers they are. They sure were pretty to look at as we drove down the highway. We got a few glimpses of the dunes and salt flats on the floor of the valley. The speed limit along here was 45mph, so I had plenty of chances to admire the scenery!

Next stop was Scotty's Castle in the north end of the valley. I took the tour of the inside of the house and was bowled over by the beauty of the place. The docent that was conducting the tour was great. She gave us lots of stories of Death Valley Scotty and the Johnsons (Who really owned the "castle".) Before taking the tour, we (I should say Mom and I, because my stepdad found a shady spot and stayed put for the most part.. lol) wandered around some of the other buildings and followed one of the "waterways" that runs between the Castle and the Stables. We ended up spending most of the afternoon there wandering around and exploring. As the afternoon wore on, we figured we'd better head down to Furnace Creek and get checked into our room. About halfway between the castle and the cutoff that we had come into the valley is where we spotted that coyote. As we crested a little hill and spotted a car sitting still in the opposing lane. Then we spotted a "critter" in the middle of the road behind them. It looked as though someone had dumped a bunch of chips or something all over the road, perhaps thinking the coyote would eat the stuff. Doh.. Coyotes are meat eaters, I don't think they like chips that much. I took the one shot from back near where the other car was and then started driving slowly towards the coyote. He didn't want to move out of the way and I was starting to wonder if maybe I should honk the horn. He finally moved when we were about 6 or 7 feet from him. We drove past, then it dawned on me that I should have zoomed in and gotten a closeup of him! lol... So, I stopped again and stepped out of the car. He was about 20 yards or so behind us, but when I stopped, he started walking towards us. Step by step, slowly, never taking his eyes off me. I zoomed the camera in and snapped off one shot and watched him approach closer. Then, when he was about 10 feet or so behind the car, I snapped another shot and climbed back into the drivers seat. He slowly walked along side the car, looked mournfully up at the window where I was, walked out in front of the van, stared at it, then moved back onto the yellow line... And we moved off down towards Furnace Creek and the Ranch where we are staying.

More later tonight, my Stepdad has decided we are going to dinner...... Now. LOL

We're back!

Now, on with the story... After checking in at the Furnace Creek Ranch and then getting some dinner, we headed over to the Death Valley Visitor Center. They had a program scheduled that sounded interesting. "Heroes, Hermits and Villians" was the title of the program and the description says: "A variety of fascinating characters lived in and around Death Valley and helped create an iconic image of the West." It was a pretty interesting program all about some of the early pioneers, miners and characters that lived and worked in this place.

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