The anticipated two day drive turned into four, not because of problems but because of distractions. We turned onto Highway 31 at La Pine, Oregon and the route from there to Death Valley was all new to us. Roger is Geography Man so he had a good time in that 16 hours and 23 minutes.
First distraction was Fort Rock - which was not a human fort but a geologic one - the remnants of an old volcano rim.
"Patrioooooots, Patriooooooots, Stormin' a building surrounded by ducks"
The third day of our trip we didn't get far, beginning in Reno and ending at Mono Lake. Our route took us up through the snowy mountains and down along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. We did more stopping than driving. There is a reason Californians come to play here.
Day four brought even greater distractions. We explored magical Mono Lake with its other-worldy tufas and Panum Crater with its large, gleaming blocks of obsidium. Both are facinating. Tufas are formed when the calcium of freshwater springs combine with the carbonates of the lake water and form limestone. Panum Crater is one of the Mono Craters, the youngest mountain range in North America.
|Great spot for snow shoeing, skiing and snow play along HWY 431|
|Roger navigating the granite along Lake Tahoe shoreline|
|Public beach at Lake Tahoe|
|Dwarfed by the tufa at Mono Lake.|
|South Tufa Area at Mono Lake|
|My he-man holding up Panum pumice.|
|Mt. Whitney on right.|
The next morning we admired Mt. Whitney and then finally headed into Death Valley. First point of interest was Father Crowley Vista Point overlooking Rainbow Canyon. Lots of people were hanging out, but not so much for the scenery. They were waiting for F-18's to fly through the canyon, giving the crowd an eye-level view. The F-18's had flown over us on the drive into the park so we didn't wait around for the "show".
The more fertile areas of Death Valley were carpeted with flowers, especially Desert Gold. A less common, but elegant flower that I thought stood out was the Desert Five-spot.
|Desert Gold in Death Valley|
We were blessed that Death Valley had come to life with blooms but the flowers were just a bonus to an interesting and often beautiful landscape. Zabriskie Point with its chocolate/vanilla hues was a favorite spot of ours - and of a myriad of photographers.
|Waiting for the sun at Zabriskie Point|
|Titus Canyon drive|
|Entering Titus Canyon Narrows|
Good way to begin last full day in Death Valley NP.
|Pupfish in King Pool|
16 hours and 23 minutes? Yah betcha!