Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Turtle All the Way Down...

I'm glad we spent the night in Death Valley, even though we didn't get to do any stargazing. Even the RV park was quiet, and in the morning, instead of going out the way we came in, we drove all the way to the south end of the valley. Neither of us had ever been down there before, and we were both awestruck by the beauty we found. We passed the entrance to something called Artist Way, but decided not to try driving it, because a sign warned us that vehicles more than 25 feet long were prohibited, and we would just barely have made the cut -- too much stress for a holiday.  Even without taking the side road, we could see some of the multi-coloured cliffs. I tried to take pictures, but my little camera wasn't up to the job. I guess you had to be there.

Yesterday, and again today, I had the feeling that because I was seeing the earth without its trappings, without buildings or people or other animals, for the most part without even the vegetation that carpets so much of it -- that I was seeing the bottom of it all, the essence of the planet. And I know that sounds overly dramatic, but that's how I felt -- as if the curtain had been pulled back and I had been granted a glimpse of something truly wonderful.

Then we got to Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the United States, and my feeling of awe grew even stronger. We stopped for lunch. First, though, we decided to take a walk. We parked the Turtle in the lot and set off along a path that led across what looked like an ice-covered lake.  It was actually a crust of salt covering a sea of mud. (As we approached on the road, I could see people out there, walking, and they reminded me of skaters on the Rideau Canal.) On the wide path on which we walked, the surface salt was soft and crumbly. It looked to me like snow -- but warm. Both of us noticed how incredibly easy it was to walk there -- and to breathe there. I don't think I've breathed that well in years.

On the cliff across the road from the basin, there was a sign -- high above our heads -- that read "Sea Level". You might just make it out on the photo at the right.

Fortunately, we were hungry, or we might just have walked right across the basin. As it was, we returned to the Turtle, and I made lunch while R washed the salt off our shoes. After lunch we continued down the road. Our next stop -- actually, our last stop in the valley -- was at the Ashford Mill Ruins -- which date back to 1914. This was apparently where gold was processed before it was shipped to the smelter. A sign mentioned the "legend" that has grown up around the fate of the mill. Wow. I thought it took longer than 98 years to grow a legend! I think I'd have used the word "rumour" instead. Nonetheless, I had fun peeking out the windows and shooting a few pictures before we finally, and reluctantly, made our way up to the rim of the valley and on to Las Vegas, where we are now. We will be here for two nights.

Death Valley seems a million miles away.

8 comments:

John Hayes said...

Ah, the salt flats of the western deserts! I must get to Death Valley--but I've encountered just such flats in Oregon, other parts of California & Nevada. Sounds like a grand outing.

Sandra Leigh said...

John, I may have ruined my good sandals walking in the salt, but if so, it will have been worth it.

Rachel Fox said...

And you're going to the places we missed! Even better...
x

The Bug said...

Sandra we're such a young country that I'll bet anything over 50 years counts as a legend :)

AngelMay said...

I think I would like to go to Death Valley. It just sounds beautiful. Don't forget which way you went, Sandra, so you can show me later.

Oh! And don't spend all your money in Vegas! ;o)

Sandra Leigh said...

Rachel, that's a good reason for you to come back. H would love Badwater. She could strap on a pair of cross-country skis and swoosh off toward the mountains over warm snow. (Come to think of it, I'd like to do that!)

Bug, I suppose you're right -- but really. A baby born that year might still be alive, given good genes!

Sandra Leigh said...

Good Morning, AngelMay. No worries. The tables don't hold any charm for me. I'd rather find a good bookstore!

Dunkle said...

I hope I can visit there someday! Please kiss my beautiful cousin for me while you are there. I love you

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