Today was a day of some superlatives. We are in Death Valley, the hottest point in the world, but thankfully we are not here in the summer. We also got to stand at the lowest elevation in the world, in contrast to our trip to the highest city in America, Leadville CO, a few weeks ago.
The story here is all about borax, now all mined out, but known as “white gold” when those mule teams were hauling it across Death Valley. Naturally, we started at the museum here at the Furnace Creek Ranch, where many artifacts of those days are now housed, including the actual mule barn.
Our trip on to Badwater produced a never-before-seen Jo/Don trip photo, so enjoy it while you can. Yes, we asked someone to take our picture, thanks to a nudge from Violette and Reese. The lady who took it was from the Bronx, so you get what you get. (Sorry – I spend a lot of time dodging folks who pose in front of every natural and unnatural site, so I just have an aversion to those kinds of trip memories. It’s my problem.)
Badwater has a little (bad, aka very salty) water, which actually comes from Ice Age melting, so it is quite remarkable. And what you see people walking on are salt flats, which are amazing. Can you see the tiny “Sea Level” sign waaaay up there on the rocks?
Then it was off to the old Harmony Borax Works, where they actually processed the stuff and loaded it onto the wagon trains, of which part of one remains here. The ruins of the segregated house for the poor Chinese who worked here are off in the distance.
Don has wanted to see this almost as badly as he was craving Davy Crockett’s birthplace, so he has been humming the “Death Valley Days” song all day. Some TV shows just live on in history.
Our last stop before going back to the ranch for some shade, was the Mesquite Sand Dunes, which were quite sandy, as promised. Thankfully, it was too hot for the snakes to be out.
All in all, this is an amazing place – if you have a climate-controlled vehicle, lots of water, and know where the nearest freeway is. Otherwise, you look at the few people living in the area and have to ask, “Why?”