We did something unexpected yesterday. After looking forward to Death Valley and driving all day the day before to get here, we drove out of Death Valley about an hour east to check out Pahrump, Nevada. If you ever were a CSI: Las Vegas fan, you might have heard them mention Pahrump a time or two. We'd seen the sign on previous visits, and yesterday, we decided to check it out. We had reasons for going, but I'll get to that in a minute.
First, I'm still working on my 10,000 steps per day goal, and so I started the morning taking a lap around the perimeter of the campground. Here are some things I saw along the way. For one thing, I wanted to show you where we're parked. In this next image, I'm looking west toward Telescope Peak, which is the snow-capped peak kind of in the middle. It's the highest peak in Death Valley. That's our rig off to the left.
Right away, I started seeing wildflowers. We've seen these Desert Sunflowers in bloom on previous visits, but not in the abundance we're seeing this time.
I believe these next ones are known as Brown-eyed Primrose.
There was water flowing in some of the washes. Here, you can see the juxtaposition of the wet wash alongside the parched, cracked mud.
And here, this Broad-flowered Gilia grows from the cracked earth against all odds.
I never tire of the colors in the hillside above the campground.
This next shot was just to give you some idea what the landscape looks like with the wildflowers blooming.
I believe this next image shows the Notch-leaf Phacelia
Here is another of the Desert Sunflower. The blossom is a little larger than a silver dollar.
The next one is identified in the LA Time article I read as a Golden Evening Primrose, but I'm not convinced that is correct. For one thing, it was blooming in the morning, and it looks more like a Buttercup to me. Maybe one of you knows.
So that little walk got me about 1/3 of the way toward my goal, and we were ready to take off to Pahrump by then. It's really kind of a wide spot in the road.
For one thing, my quilt shop app informed me that this is the home of Red Rock Threads. I've ordered thread online from them many times.
Something about this made me suspicious, however, and I called their number to see if they were actually a brick and mortar store. They were not...so I guess it's a good thing we didn't stop by unannounced.
The second object of our desire was this high performance driving school known as Spring Mountain. Mike was all over this. When we drove up, we were sad to see that it is gated. Mike approached the booth there, and they couldn't have been nicer. They had us sign a few little forms and gave us visitor wrist bands, and then welcomed us through the gate with open arms.
Mike tells me that Ron Fellows has been a driver for Corvette for a long time, and he started this school in Pahrump for Corvette owners. Mike happens to be one, and he is salivating over this school.
There are six miles of track. Here, I was looking toward the north.
Turning to the south, this is what we saw.
We were standing atop a tower about six flights up. For those attending the 3-day driving school, there are condominiums and there is also this RV campground.
Mike was totally in his element surrounded by all of these new C-7 Corvettes. His is a 2001 C-5.
We priced the school, and although it's a bit pricey, it's not out of reach. I think this is what he'll be doing after he retires in April of 2017 to celebrate the next phase of his life.
After that, we drove back to Death Valley and paid a visit to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.
We wanted to check in with the rangers about the best places to see wildflowers and also about any other road closures we needed to know about. I thought you might enjoy these signs. Remember that you can always click on the image to make it larger.
We'd been told by more than one person that the drive out to Badwater Basin was the best place to see wildflowers.
We were just across the road from the campground, and we took this image to show you where we were planning to have dinner. The arrow points to the Furnace Creek Inn. We've eaten at the restaurant before, which is of five-star quality. It's a pretty special treat here in the desert. Since we'll be driving home on Valentine's Day, we decided to have our Valentine's Day celebration here.
Also, do you remember when Mike left his hat behind on our hike through Negro Bill's Canyon near Moab? If not, you can read about our hike in this old blog post. It was a great hike, but Mike left his hat behind and didn't remember it until we'd hiked too far to go back for it. He finally was able to replace it at the General Store at the Furnace Creek Ranch. Yes, a man and his hat: it's a beautiful thing.
Shadow Mike was so excited about the hat that he insisted on taking a selfie.
We tried to get Smitty out for a walk, but he really just wanted to go back inside. This is often how Smitty's "walks" end.
After that, we cleaned up and got ready for our night on the town, such as it is. The Furnace Creek Inn is like an oasis in the desert. On a previous visit, we explored the grounds thoroughly. You can read all about it on this old blog post. To get to the restaurant, one first walks down this tunnel to the elevator at the end that will take you to the third floor.
We sat in the lounge and had a drink while we waited to be seated. We were a little early for our reservation. In the image below, you can see the hotel front desk and a very nice (and expensive) gift shop at the end of the hall.
It was so nice outside that we decided to move to the outdoor patio.
And shortly after that, we were seated. The service was very good, and the restaurant is elegant. We started with salads. Mine was a beet salad with pistachios and goat cheese. Yum.
Mike chose the hearts of romaine...kind of a fancy Caesar salad.
They also served us bread with two kinds of butter. The one on the left is a date butter. We ignored the traditional butter on the right and went straight for the date kind.
We haven't had any beef this whole trip (beyond a couple of burgers), and so we each ordered a steak for dinner. For that, we wanted a nice red wine.
Mike had the rib-eye. See his potatoes on the left side there...a mashed red potato with the skins left in, the way I make them at home.
I ordered the filet mignon, which was done in a port wine sauce, and I was supposed to get some potatoes with mine too. Instead, I got what appeared to be a deep-fried pear. But when I cut into it, I discovered that it was made of the same potatoes. The stem had a large caper berry attached. What fun! Also, garlic brussels sprouts, which I happen to love.
For dessert, we shared a slice of an Italian Lemon Cream Cake, and that was so nice and light and delicious.
After that, we waddled home.
This morning, we were up at our usual time...the time when Smitty starts singing the song of his people...about sun-up. He and Maggie have bumped noses twice in the past 24 hours. They've also scrapped a few times, but hey...every little bit, right? She's become as feisty as he is, and sometimes he's the one sneaking past her. I keep hoping to catch them in a picture when they bump noses, but if I go for my camera, it will ruin the moment. Eventually, I'll get them.
This morning our agenda was to head out to Badwater, and as I'm writing this, we've gone and been back. I have more pictures of wildflowers to show you as well as our drive through Artist's Palette and the short hike we took there. We're dry camping right now, meaning we have no electricity, and so my battery time on the laptop is limited. All of that will need to wait for tomorrow's post. Also, tomorrow morning, we'll be starting the trip back to home.