Archive | February, 2018

Death Valley Adventure February 2018

26 Feb

Following is the chronicle of our family’s annual pilgrimage to Death Valley during the Douglas County High School Presidents’ Day/Week break. This annual gathering began several years ago when Carson City firemen and other firefighters would gather there for a week long rite of golf, hiking, horseshoes, and other activities that would fit the Death Valley location.

Jerri and Allan drove their motor home to DV on Valentine’s Day and I followed a day later due to obligations at the Nevada State Museum. Many don’t like the long drive through what seems to be desolate desert, but I rather enjoy it. Granted, the sagebrush views don’t vary much but, there is always a chance of seeing wild burros, wild horses, bighorn sheep, deer and large birds of prey.  Don’t forget to click on the images if you wish to see more detail.

I always get a thrill when I see this huge flag flying in Hawthorne near the Hawthorne Army Depot.

The next stop was Goldfield, NV, a tiny town (pop. Less than 300) with a rich mining history in the early 1900s when the population was more than 20,000.

The Equipment Display is beside the local library that was the elementary school in 1908 and morphed into other uses throughout the years.

WWII practice bombs recovered outside Goldfield and Tonopah.

A mid-1930s highway maintenance truck that was still used 30 years later. Nevada likes to get its money’s worth.

A few miles before dropping into Death Valley proper, I visited Rhyolite, NV, another rich mining town during the early 1900s.

It was a booming place and some buildings had electricity and indoor plumbing.  Quite modern for 1908.

A three room bottle house that was built in 1906 and was raffled off. The house served as a residence for the winning family for many years.


Rhyolite today…school building, Overbury Building (bank and business), depot in background

Rhyolite Emporium – the Porter Brothers’ store ruins with a two-room cabin in the distance (thought to have been a brothel, though it was originally built as a residence)

Las Vegas and Tonopah Depot

The town symbol was a penguin. It represented the enigma of gold mining. “As much chance of finding gold in the desert as finding a penguin.” (BLM pamphlet) Mining tailings can be seen in the background.

Someone has built a small museum along with some strange sculptures outside of the actual townsite.  See https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/12538 for more info on this and the pink lady Lego sculpture.

I wanted to walk around this area more but the wind was so darned cold and biting that I left in hopes to find warmer weather in DV.


The boys (Buddy and Max) needed to be walked shortly after I arrived. Jerri and Allan’s motor home is directly behind Jerri.


Jerri, Allan and I played nine holes of golf the next morning. It was fun and the weather was perfect!

Panamint daisies were the only flowers in bloom. I suspect the wildflowers will not be as profuse as last year due to little to no rain in DV.

This is a view from Artist’s Palette looking toward Badwater. I like it but don’t know how Jerri got it in her camera. She doesn’t either.

This is what the colors really were.

The road through Artist’s Palette displays many colors creating a vast array of raw elements and minerals. Some of these are iron, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, red hematite and green chlorite.

The Warm Spring-fed Pool where we sunned a bit and took showers in the pool house. I love this pool because it’s always warm (except when there is a wind) and the water is changed daily, thus not requiring chlorine (or at least as much as a normal public pool uses)  The water leaving the pool is used to water the golf course.

Catching up on reading

Jerri, Allan and I visited the Keane Wonder Mine that is just off the road to Beatty, NV, but still in CA. Over a million dollars of gold were produced from 1904 to 1917.


The Keane Mine had a mile long tram to haul ore to a 20-stamp processing mill.

Then ore was then transported to Rhyolite, more than 20 miles away. This is a view of the three mile long dirt road from the mine to the highway. The dust clouds you see are cars on the dirt road.

A piece of quartz from some tailings. Allan told me gold is generally found with quartz.

A grackle liked to perch in the tree near our campsite.

A pair of doves in the same tree. The one on the left was taking care of an itch.

Jason and Scott get ready for a game of horseshoes. They weren’t always this gentlemanly 🙂

Another game the two intrepid nephews played was called Beersbie (or something like that). There were many rules, but a primary rule was to always have a can of beer in one hand while trying to catch the Frisbee, throw it, or try to catch the beer bottle if it’s knocked off the pole.

Another game was cornhole where one tosses the beanbag to a platform with the intention of getting the bag into the hole. Kylie is really concentrating.

Megan must have made a score with the bag.

The foursome on the golf course. We didn’t shoot the scores we had hoped for, but we had fun and a lot of laughs.

A view of the Furnace Creek Course with the Panamint Mountains in the background.


Jolee, Jerri, Dalan, Megan, Kiley and I went out to the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. These dunes sprawl 14 square miles across the widest part of Death Valley.

People are free to walk wherever they wish. We were at the most easily accessed dunes where it’s fun to watch the kids play as well as the adults.

A neat thing is there will be no footprints in the sand come morning. The wind blows and reshapes the dunes.

Jerri and Jolee

I espied these tracks and wondered what made them.

It was pretty easy to follow the tracks and discovered this large stinkbug hustling across the sand to another plant so as to have some shelter.

The sunset wasn’t very spectacular but the setting sun’s reflection creates some pretty colors as people come back across the dunes to get to their cars.

The next late afternoon, we went to Zabriskie Point to see colors and maybe a sunset. The reflected colors are beautiful and I enjoy going there to see all the people as well as the sights. There is a large raven in this photo. See if you can spot it.


The kids like to hike around the area and Megan and Kylie zipped out to an area in front of the actual Zabriskie Point. Dalan went out to points unknown to take pictures.

The sunset didn’t have extraordinary colors but the reflections were fabulous. I thought it was a nice ending to the last day in Death Valley. I’m already looking forward to going there next year…especially to be with the family.

P.S.  On the way home, we saw six bighorn sheep beside the highway that goes by Walker Lake.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen bighorns in Nevada.