Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Death Valley and Las Vegas

Last weekend I went for a trip to Death Valley. The most convenient way to get there is to fly to Las Vegas and rent a car there, so we also spend one evening in Vegas.
We arrived to the Furnace Creek Ranch around 11pm on Friday night. Road 190 east of Furnace Creek was closed which limited what we can see but of course the Death Valley National Park is so big that even the rest of the park is too big to visit on a single weekend.
On Saturday we decided to drive northwest from Furnace Creek. We stopped at the Harmony Borax Works. Borax was excavated in Death Valley in 19th century. Initially it was transported out of Death Valley using these 20-mule teams that pulled carriages like this:

At some point there was a plan to replace them with a steam tractor but it turned out that it was less reliable than mules and it was soon retired. Here's a picture of the "Old Dinah" with snow-capped mountains in the background:

The views along the park were wonderful:

According to this story on MSNBC there haven't been so many flowers there in 50 years.

We also went to the Salt Creek, Titus Canyon, Scottys Castle and the Ubehebe Crater. Here's the gate at the Scottys Castle:

And here's the Ubehebe Crater:

On Sunday we drove south and stopped at the Golden Canyon, Devils Golf Course and Natural Bridge. I took this picture at the Devils Golf Course:

and this picture of the Natural Bridge Canyon:

If you plan to visit the park, have a look at their daily morning report that describes road conditions and weather.
On Sunday evening we arrived to Vegas. We had just enough time to watch Cirque du Soleil's O before going back to our hotel because we had to catch an early flight on Monday that would take us straight to work. Watching O reminded me of this funny "review" of it I read many years ago on the cool McSweeneys web site.

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