Today we planned to take a drive up north to view the sights in that area of the park. Carol was suddenly overcome with an ill feeling though while we were eating breakfast, so we delayed our excursion until she felt better.
Fortunately, within the hour she was feeling much better and ready to go exploring.
So we drove about 56 miles north to Scotty’s Castle. There is quite a story behind this mansion in the hills above the desert.
“Hidden in the green oasis of Grapevine Canyon in far northern Death Valley, the Death Valley Ranch, or Scotty's Castle as it is more commonly known, is a window into the life and times of the Roaring 20's and Depression 30's. It was and is an engineer's dream home, a wealthy matron's vacation home and a man-of-mystery's hideout and getaway. Walter Scott, Death Valley Scotty, convinced everyone that he had built the castle with money from his rich secret mines in the area. Albert Mussey Johnson actually built the house as a vacation getaway for himself and his wife Bessie. Scotty was the mystery, the cowboy, and the entertainer, but he was also a friend. Albert was the brains and the money. Two men as different as night and day, from different worlds and with different visions - who shared a dream. “ (from NPS website)
View of main house from parking lot
View of main house on left and annex on right
Scotty’s swimming pool!
The gate to the courtyard between house and annex
The courtyard between house and annex
Roofline of main house
Annex in foreground, main house behind
The Hacienda for the Johnson’s guests
We had a picnic lunch out in the picnic area in front of the parking lot. It was a good thing that we brought our own food as they had very little there. The normally offer a small selection of sandwiches, chips & drinks. But we were there at noon and they were out of sandwiches and low on everything else. We overheard a guy wanting to buy food but all that was left were a few bags of chips!
Then we drove back towards Stovepipe Wells, first stopping at the dunes. Carol took pictures here and I am sure she will soon post some!
Then we continued to Stovepipe Wells. This is an area with an RV campground, inn, gift store, general store, gas station, swimming pool, and restaurant. We were pretty disappointed in the infrastructure here. The gas here is cheaper ($4.45 vs. $5.02 here in Furnace Creek) and the view from the RV park is better, but overall there isn’t much here. I sure hope nobody forms their opinion of Death Valley solely on the Stovepipe Wells Area.
One thing of interest here was in front of the store. There was a telescope setup there with a clock drive following the sun. While I was looking at it, the owner came over and offered to let me look through it. He had 4 filters on it so that you could view it directly. There was no easy way to capture the image but it was neat to see the solar flares on the rim of the sun.
After leaving that area, we went to Salt Creek. You take a 2 mile or so gravel road in and then there is a half mile boardwalk that you can take into see the salt creek. It was a nice walk and the temperature was about 70 with a beautifully clear sky. The area is very quiet and on parts of the walk, you can hear the ripples in the creek.
The boardwalk at Salt Creek
An artist painting the creek on the boardwalk
How did this mountain get to be so much whiter than the others?
Then we returned to our campsite in Furnace Creek Ranch. Compared to Stovepipe Wells, there is a lot more here in the way of amenities. Costs are somewhat higher here, probably because you are even further from civilization here.
May try to play the golf tomorrow. No, not at the Devil’s Golf Course that I wrote about yesterday. That one is probably a bit hard for me. But there is a course here at Furnace Creek and I may try it out.