3/15/11

The Racetrack at Death Valley

I'm a few days behind in my blog posts because we've been in Death Valley the last three days.  We stayed at a different part of the park this time around, and there was no cell phone or internet access.  I'm catching up with this blog post.  We kind of hung around in Death Valley, not doing much.  We wanted to enjoy the last of the sunshine and warmth we'll see for a while.  However, we did make the drive out to the Racetrack Playa, which is one of the more interesting and mysterious features in the entire park.

It is thirty miles over a rough gravel road to reach the Racetrack.  What makes it so interesting is that there are moving rocks on the playa.  No one has ever seen them move, but it is clear that they do.  (You'll see in a moment.)  The prevailing theory is that the movement happens when rain slicks the clay playa surface, and then wind moves them along.  It seems plausible to me.  This is what the surface looks like when it's dry.

 

The first thing you come to on the road is Teakettle Junction.  If you've ever seen a shoe tree (a tree with shoes on it), then you'll understand Teakettle Junction.  Other things have been found there too, like a broken laptop computer.  We saw only teakettles, and what a lot of teakettles there were!


Aren't these so funny?  I love it when our collective sense of humor shows.


Nine miles later, one begins to see the formation known as The Grandstand.  This is how it looks from a distance.


And this is what it looks as you walk up to it.  It's big!


It reminded me of a rocky outcropping in the ocean with waves washing up on the shore.


The rocks fall off of this outcropping.  The ones that are moving and leaving trails behind them are quite some distance away--driving distance--from the outcropping.  They've moved quite a distance just to be located where they are, and then they leave these long tracks as they skid along the playa's surface.


Cool, huh?  I sort of like this lightening bolt trail:


So that was pretty much all we did in our three days in Death Valley.  We saw very few flowers, but the creosote bushes were blooming.  We'd never seen that before that I can recall.


Everything growing seemed green and healthy, and so the bloom is still coming.  I think we were just too early for it. 

So tonight we're in Carson City, Nevada, and we are in one heck of a storm!  The wind is blowing a gale force and the rain is coming down.  (It's our welcome home!)  The drive north was absolutely beautiful.  We drove out of Death Valley through Panamint Springs, where we saw the highest fuel prices this trip.  (Fortunately, we didn't have to buy any.)  Diesel was a whopping $5.34 per gallon!  In Nevada, we found it for $3.89.  I'm glad we were able to wait. 

We drove along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range throughout the day and it was positively breath-taking.  If you've ever taken US Hwy 395 north along the mountain range, then you know what a spectacularly scenic drive it is.  We passed along the east side of Yosemite National Park and Mono Lake.  The weather was beautiful right up until we pulled into the RV park in Carson City.  Then it started.  We're informed that the wind should die down later on this evening, but it's impressive as I write this!

Tomorrow, we expect to be in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and we'll get a chance to visit our son, Matthew, while we're there.  That's the plan for now, but it's snowing in Klamath Falls over the next three days.  We'll have to contact Matthew and find out if there is actually snow on the roadways.  If there is, we'll have to choose a different route.  And then, the next day, HOME!!  I know George and I will both be glad to be there.  I love traveling, but three months away is a long time.  I love my home too. 

Many of you have followed along and commented all along the way, and I want you to know that you are so appreciated.  I hope it's been as enjoyable for you to read my posts as it has been enjoyable for me to read your comments.  Thank you.

I'll be reverting back to my day-to-day posts from here on--at least until the next trip.  And don't forget that Fun Fact Friday Freebie will resume on April 1st with a great giveaway.  I'll be saying more about that soon. 

5 comments from clever and witty friends:

Kathy said...

Thanks for taking us along for the ride.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

I’ve enjoyed the travelogue--better than a james Bond movie.

quiltzyx said...

Those traveling rocks are very cool! And Teapot Junction - what a hoot!!

Thanks again for taking us along for the ride. :^)

Bayside Gal said...

Barbara, I laughed when I saw all the teapots. I just love them! I think I will start a sign in my garden...Thanks for sharing all your wonderful pics. Jeanie

LethargicLass said...

It may not feel like it to you, but to me it seems like you just left :)