Out & About—Death Valley National Park

Out & About The World

My paternal grandmother adopted me in December 1965 when I was just three months short of 11. For Christmas 1968, we were going to go to Huntington Beach, California, to visit her oldest living son (my dad was the oldest son) and his family. We were going to drive. I asked if we could drive through Death Valley. The first answer was, “Yes.” The final answer was, “No, because it’s too hot and the car doesn’t have air conditioning.”

After graduating from high school in May 1973, two friends and I took a driving tour of states west of the Mississippi River. Our intent was to visit every city of at least 100,000 population, every national monument, every national park, and every national forest. We almost made it. We skipped Death Valley National Park because it was too hot and we were sleeping outside in tents.

I tried to visit Death Valley many other times but never made it, until July 30, 2018. It was everything I expected, and more, living up to being the hottest, driest, and lowest national park. It’s also an International Dark Sky Park, and I can personally attest to its darkness and the beautiful stars above.

International Dark Sky Park

I got to Panamint Springs, the western gateway to Death Valley, at 8:30 p.m. on July 30. Panamint Springs is an unincorporated area of Inyo County. Its population is unknown but probably is in the low double digits. My car’s temperature gauge said it was hot outside:

118°F outside

I had been sleeping in my car at night but at 118 effin degrees, I didn’t think that would be a good idea. There was a small hotel but it had no vacancy. However, there was a campground in back, and there were some cabins there. One was still available. $150 for the night. It had air conditioning. I was an easy sale. I got to my cabin, turned on the air conditioner, unloaded the car, and checked the outside temperature. Still 108 effin degrees.

When I woke five hours later, I took a shower. If you’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” movie, you’ll understand why I thought of that movie when I saw the shower curtain:

After taking a shower, I watched the sunrise:

Sunrise in Panamint Springs in Death Valley

Afterwards, around 6:30 a.m., I started loading the car. Fortunately, the temperature had fallen. Thank goodness for overnight cooling!

100 effin degrees outside

As I was pulling away, I got a picture of my cute little cabin:

My cabin for the night

A drive through the campground showed that there were people who actually camped out in their tents!

Panamint Springs campground

Not knowing when I might find another gas station, I filled up at the only gas station in Panamint Springs…. with NO BRAND gas. Never had seen that before!

No brand gas

The scenery was beautiful in its own way on the drive to the Death Valley Visitor Center:

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Devil’s Corn Field was quite interesting to a plant person like me. The plants are Arrowweed (Pluchea sericea), and native Americans used its straight woody shoots for their arrow shafts. Arrowweed spreads by rhizomes, and the desert winds cause the sand to accumulate at the base of the Arrowweed, causing the field to look like bundled corn stalks left to dry in a midwestern corn field.

Devil's Cornfield

The visitor center was named Furnace Creek Visitor Center, an appropriate name since it was 113 effin degrees at 9:15 in the morning, 190 feet below sea level.

Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley

The best of Death Valley was yet to come: Badwater Basin, Salt Flats, Devil’s Golf Course, Ashford Mill Ruins and the Old Harmony Borax Works, and lots of beautiful hot, dry, desert scenery.

Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the North America. Interestingly, Mt. Whitney, peaking at 14,505 feet above sea level, is the highest point in the lower 48 states, just 84 miles away from the lowest point.

Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Salt Flats—Ten to twelve thousand years ago, there was a lake here, Lake Manly, about 100 miles long and 600 feet deep. As the area turned to hot, dry desert and the water evaporated, only salts were left behind.

Badwater Basin in Death Valley

Salt Flats in Death Valley

Devil’s Golf Course—Named after a line in the 1934 National Park Service guide to Death Valley: “Only the devil could play golf on its surface.” It is another part of Lake Manly. One can drive out to the salt flats, park the car, and walk around on lots of salt. Yet not a single margarita in sight!

Devil's Golf Course in Death Valley

Old Harmony Borax Works—The search for gold in Death Valley produced few fortunes, leaving borax, the White Gold of the Desert, as the valley’s most profitable mineral.

Harmony Borax Works was the valley’s first borax operation, operating from 1883 to 1888.

San Francisco businessman William T. Coleman built the plant in 1882 to refine the “cottonball” borax found on the nearby salt flats. The high cost of transportation made it necessary to refine the borax here rather than carry both borax and waste to the railroad, 165 miles distant across the desert.

Old Harmony Borax Works

Old Harmony Borax Works

Old Harmony Borax Works

Old Harmony Borax Works

Old Harmony Borax Works

Ashford Mill Ruins—Gold ore from the Golden Treasure Mine, five miles to the east, was processed here for shipment to a smelter.

Ashford Mill Ruins

Ashford Mill Ruins

Lots of beautiful hot, dry, desert scenery on the drive out of the park.

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Death Valley

Beautiful hot, dry desert….

But it's a dry heat

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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Out & About—Calico Ghost Town

Out & About The World

Along with the cemetery in Calico Ghost Town (Abandoned, yet still in use), I found the ghost town itself quite fascinating.

Calico, California, was founded as a mining town in 1881, but by 1907 it had been completely abandoned. During those 26 years, it produced $86 million in silver from over 500 mines in the area. Population peaked at 3,000.

Walter Knott, of California’s Knott’s Berry Farm fame, bought the town in 1950 or 1951—sources vary on the date—and restored it based on historical photographs.

Following is a selection of photographs that I took on July 30, 2018, when I was there.

Calico, California

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town, California

Calico fire hall

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—The new United States Federal Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles

Out & About The World

This morning I went out with the Pacific Photographic Society on a 3-hour walking tour of downtown Los Angeles.

I was quite surprised at how crowded it was on a Sunday morning and how few homeless people there were, and how many theaters are on Broadway.

I always thought all the theaters were in Hollywood.

Following are two pictures of the United States Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles, looking unlike any courthouse I’ve ever seen.

Los Angeles Federal Courthouse

Los Angeles Federal Courthouse

Construction on the courthouse began in August 2013 and was completed in 2016. The architect was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, one of the world’s largest architectural firms. With 633,000 square feet of office space on ten floors, it houses 24 courtrooms.

It is a green building with a Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of just 31, four points below its design requirement of 35, and 54% below the national benchmark for similar buildings nationwide.

Read more about this interesting building at The Journal of the American Institute of Architects.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Out & About—Amethysts

Out & About The World

Jim and I both always have liked amethysts. We have a 3-column amethyst, a pair of amethyst bookends, and several smaller amethysts.

I saw these in Kingman, Arizona, on July 24, 2018.

Amethysts

I would have bought one of those (one?) if I had been ending my journey instead of beginning it. I wouldn’t end my journey until nine days later.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Halls of History—Abandoned, yet still in use

Halls of History

Cemeteries always have fascinated me. My wise old grandmother’s house in Kingsville, Texas, was just 15 blocks from the cemetery where my dad and two brothers were buried.

When I visited the California Ghost Town on July 30, 2018, one had to drive by the cemetery in order to get to the Ghost Towh. Of course, I had to stop to take pictures.

Calico Ghost Town cemetery

Calico Ghost Town cemetery

Calico Ghost Town cemetery

Calico, California, was founded as a mining town in 1881, but by 1907 it had been completely abandoned. During those 26 years, it produced $86 million in silver from over 500 mines in the area. Population peaked at 3,000.

Walter Knott, of California’s Knott’s Berry Farm fame, bought the town in 1950 or 1951—sources vary on the date—and restored it based on historical photographs.

A walk through the cemetery revealed that it still is in use:

New headstone in the Calico Ghost Town cemetery

I wonder who the cemetery caretaker is. I also wonder why Helen had the privilege of being buried there even though was born 25 years after Calico had been abandoned.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post