Thursday, January 19, 2006

Road Trip part 2..........Death Valley

With southern California traffic behind us we left the shadow of Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 States, and headed for Death Valley, the lowest point in the continental United States. The road from Lone Pine into the White Mountains is a living post card of desolation and beauty. Thousands (or millions, depending on who you believe) of years of brutal weather have carved these mountains into jagged and nearly impassable hills and valleys. God must have known what he was doing when He hid all the gold and silver in these hills, because who would look here for it? A lot of people from the looks of it. There are mines everywhere, many of them open for exploration, which is exactly what Tyler, Joshua and I did.

Many of the mines were inviting, but one in particular was actually calling our names. From the highway it looked like a perfect round opening into the hillside, which goes to show you how distorted things can be at 80 mph, I mean 65 mph. It was time for a short rest stop anyway, so we turned around and drove up the narrow dirt road and parked 40 feet from the opening. We did not come prepared for mine exploration, but did have a couple of flashlights and a warning whistle, so we entered the mine with the confidence of experts. About 20 foot into the mine we halted to look at the old timber beamsholding up the roof of the mine, and our expertise began to dissipate a bit. Tyler pressed on into the depths (why do they say depths? The mine is perfectly level. Shouldn't they say "the lengths"?) ahead of Joshua and I as we decided caution to be the better part of bravery. About 100 feet into the mine, and half a dozen old beam supports, Joshua decided he had gone far enough. Naturally I stayed behind with him so he wouldn't be afraid, and cautioned Tyler not to go too much further. Perhaps 5 or 10 seconds went by, and we decided not to wait for Tyler, after all, he can take care of himself, and we skeedattled on out of there, back to where Clyrinda had a nice picnic set up on the tailgate of the truck, as though she expected us to arrive any moment.

That was fun.

The drive down into Death Valley was spectacular, with deep canyons carved out like scars in the sides of the mountains dropping thousands of feet into the valley.

We stopped at the gift shop and bought some trinkets, a very important thing to do on all road trips, and pressed on to Scotty's Castle. I'm sure I could do a google search and find out who Scotty was, but for me it's enough to know that he was a kook who built a gigantic castle out in the middle of nowhere, and now the Government charges 15 bucks a head to go inside the castle. I think Scotty never existed and the state made it all up.

I'd like to tell you all more about Death Valley, but we hightailed it out of there because we had to get to Tonopah Nevada and wanted to be there before dark so we could explore the town.

Hold out for the next installment of Road Trip, where you will learn how not to plan the stops along the way on a road trip.


At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Sandy said...

Great photos! WOW!! Y'all are brave (or crazy :)) for going into those mines!!Thanks for adding the pictures... gives us a MUCH greater appreciation for your "exploring" expeditions ~ I look forward to the next "chapter" ;)


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