Friday, March 18, 2011

282 Feet Below Sea Level

Wednesday, March 16th

Wednesday morning we packed up and left Vegas headed for Death Valley, CA. It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive. We were in the middle of nowhere! Really... there was nothing for most of the drive. Pretty refreshing... just wide open spaces.

We stopped to take a picture as we entered California. It was also in the middle of nowhere. It did not look like what most people think of when you think of California.

Entering California, the 22nd state Jonah has visited!!!

Once we arrived in Death Valley National Park, we drove up to Dante's view. This viewpoint is over 5,000 ft in elevation. It was about 62 degrees up there and really windy. It was cold. Jonah and I didn't last too long outside of the car. The view was spectacular and unique... like nothing I've ever seen before. Looking down into Death Valley, it looked like you were looking at snow or water, but it was minerals that have arisen out of the soil and have not been able to make it out to the ocean because the land is so dry (no water to wash it out to the ocean). These minerals are referred to as the salts. Along the drive up to Dante's view, we saw several bikers. Not people on motorcycles, but people manually pedaling their way up to Dante's view. WOW. This was impressive. It was uphill for like 4,000 plus feet. No doubt, these people must be serious bikers, training for something or just wanting to stay in excellent shape.

Looking out at Dante's view

Dante's view

After Dante's view, we drove to another view point called Zabriskie point. At this view point, you could see different layers and colors in the sand. It was very pretty and again something unique, never had seen anything quite like this before. Mark walked way out on one of the hills with Jonah. It looks much more dangerous in the picture than it actually was. It was a gradual decline.

Jonah and Daddy at Zabriskie's point

Jonah and Mommy at Zabriskie's point

Mark and Jonah way out on one of the hills at Zabriskie's point

From Zabriskie point, we stopped by the Visitor's center for (a less than mediocre) lunch at a a buffet, looked around at the Information center and browsed through the gift shop. After this pit stop, we drove down to an area called Badwater, which is the lowest point in the western hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level. In the picture, you will see, it looks like you could walk out and be in the ocean. Again, this is the formation of the minerals on the dry land. Down in this area, the badwater area, it was 93 degrees, so that was a change in temperature of over 30 degrees!! This area was named Badwater by one of the travelers that passed through Death Valley during the goldrush in California. He tried to get his donkey to drink some water in the area and because of the strong taste of all the minerals in the water, the man's donkey would not drink the water, so the man referred to the area as Badwater.

Jonah standing in front of an old locomotive that was at the Visitor's Center at Death Valley.

The 3 of us at Badwater Basin

Jonah loved 'reading' the signs... he would trace each letter with his fingers and say the letter outloud.

View looking out at Badwater Basin

We also did 2 hikes while we were in Death Valley. The first was called Natural Bridge. It was a short hike, only took about 30 minutes... it was hot though!! Jonah really enjoyed drinking from the camelbak that we used to carry our water in. Every few minutes he says, "more wawa pease!" (more water please). If we stopped to give him water every time he asked for it, we'd be stopping every 2 minutes and we'd have a water logged boy. At Natural Bridge, Mark was able to climb up pretty high on the rocks. Jonah kept asking to go up with him, which of course did not happen, but Mark helped him climb around a little on some lower rocks and I got a picture of him sitting up on one of the rocks. He thought he was big stuff ! :)

One of Jonah's many drinks from the camelbak (I realize he looks like he is about to have a heat stroke here, but don't worry, this is not an accurate representation of how he felt -- its just the only picture I took of him drinking from the camelbak

Mark climbed way up high on the rocks

Jonah sitting up on the rocks that Daddy helped him climb

Mark and Jonah standing in front of Natural Bridge

The second hike we did was called Mosaic Canyon. This was a more unique hike and it was mostly shaded, so that was nice. The canyon has been created by water flowing through. The rock was very smooth. You still have to be careful when hiking here if there is a chance of rain, flash flooding can be an issue. During this hike, we let Jonah out of the backpack and he had a great time, running around playing with the rocks and being a boy!

Jonah playing around in the rocks on a hike through Mosaic Canyon

Off the beaten path in Mosaic Canyon

A picture of me from Mark's viewpoint in the picture above

The 3 of us at a larger part of Mosaic Canyon

Me down in Mosaic Canyon, while Mark took the picture from above

Mark and Jonah in Mosaic Canyon

We wore him out!!

That pretty much wraps up our day in Death Valley. We headed out of the park to go to our hotel for the night in Ridgecrest, CA. This drive took about 3 hours and was amazing. Again, we were in the middle of absolutely nowhere. We didn't see anything for a majority of that drive. We were in the mountains on some crazy roads. We had a view of the Sierra Nevada mountains as the sun was going down and it was beautiful.

Sun setting as we drove out of Death Valley

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