Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Weekend Beast: Death Valley

2.20.16: Ryan heard (through the grapevine?) that Death Valley was experiencing wildflowers blooming at almost super bloom level. Apparently, a super bloom is a really big deal. Also, this super bloom at Death Valley was due to rains way back in October, which I thought was pretty interesting. Anyway, we'd been wanting to go to Death Valley for a long time, and seeing an almost super bloom of flowers would be cool anywhere--but especially in Death Valley--and it was Ryan's last Saturday of not working until the end of April (but only because he worked a reaaaaaaally long day Friday), so we did it! We finally went to Death Valley.

We started out at Zabriskie Point. Zabriskie is a very brief but very steep climb up a paved path. Lila wanted to "run" like the boys were, but she literally could not lift her legs high enough to run up the steep path, sweet thing! She and I teamed up while Ryan and the boys went ahead. At the top, we were stunned by the amazing views before us. Death Valley is unlike any other landscape I've ever seen. It's desert--but it's not Vegas desert. It's so barren. And the rock formations are just interesting!

Our next stop was the visitor's center. On the way, we saw patches of yellow wildflowers. Seeing flowers blooming in such a barren landscape was so, so cool. Lila's favorites were the purples (of course). After the visitor's center, we stopped briefly at the site of the old mine. The mine didn't operate for long, because getting supplies and shipping product was too expensive. Also, I can't imagine working in that heat! It was only high 70s/low 80s the day we went and the sun just felt so hot--way hotter than it should feel at those kind of temperatures. It was so crazy!

The kids were, at this point, apparently starving and also dying to get out and explore a bit more. So we drove to the sand dunes, ate our picnic out of the back end of our Tahoe--which provided the only shade and respite from the sun around--then played! The boys especially loved climbing up a dune, then running down the other side. We also found a few patches of baked desert mud, which they clawed out of the ground, then threw down so they could watch the clods break up into dirt. At one point, Lila decided that she needed to crawl on each down hill--so she moved very slowly and get amazingly dirty. We had a great time in the dunes. When we decided we were done playing, we dumped the sand out of our shoes into one pile. We may have created another dune.

Next, we finally made our way to our hike: The Golden Canyon Trail! Honestly, the first part of the hike was not thrilling and was more inclined than I planned on. I haven't been able to work out for months because of my knee, and I was carrying Lila--so I was more than a little tired. By the time we finally reached the part the boys were most excited about--the rock scrambling--I knew I needed to rest. And there was no way the backpack carrier was going to squeeze through some of the rocks. So Lila and I found a shady spot, sat down, and chatted. Meanwhile, Ryan and the boys had a great time climbing. 

Before too long, they were back to us and we were on the trail back down. Our next stop was Artist's Palette--just a drive this time, thank goodness. Artist's Palette is amazing. Pictures don't even kind of do it justice! The rocks are splashed with turquoises, purples, hints of yellow--wow. I'm so glad we took the time to see it!

And finally, we drove on Badwater Road to the Salt Flats! I'd read that Badwater was the best place to see the flowers and that proved to be true. There were flowers everywhere! I couldn't get over it. 

Once we got to the Salt Flats, there were, of course, flowers nowhere. the Salt Flats were super interesting to see, though, and we may or may not have sampled the salt. Just a lick. On the way back, we noticed a sign posted on the mountain way above our heads that showed where sea level would be located. We'd read how far below sea level we were, but seeing the depth illustrated like that was crazy!

The sun was rapidly going down now and we needed to head home. We got to enjoy seeing a full moon over the flowers as we drove out of the park, which was gorgeous.

We thought the rock in the formation below looked like a fist and a pinky, as Ryan is illustrating.

Artist's Palette

 The "Sea Level" sign is that white stripe on the mountain below:

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