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Old 05-07-2013, 04:23 AM   #43
Ladybug0048 OP
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Joined: Nov 2005
Location: Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
Oddometer: 11,291
Day 4 - Thursday 3/28/13

I decided to headed off on my own to watch the sunrise from the valley floor and enjoyed an early start to my day. It was a a day filled with touristy delights

At work we have a ďwhere has your Ecova bottle been?Ē section in our company newsletter. I figured I needed to submit one with the bottle taking a motorcycle ride and this was the perfect place to get the photo. I still need to get around to submitting it though.

I had to have a picture of this sign.

First thing in the morning sure is nice in Death Valley.

The dunes? Iíve been to dunes before, I used to live within a few miles of dunes when I was a teenager and we spend many quality kegger hours in the dunes. They came equipped with a lake for skinny dipping and getting the sand rinsed off. Spending time in the dunes at Death Valley wasnít much of a thought. Heck, I know what they are, lots of sand thatís not all that easy to walk in.

When I saw the sign for Mesquite_Flat_Dunes I had enough liquids in me I decided to stop and use the facilities since they were there. Already off the bike with my helmet and jacket off I figured I might as well walk over and look at the sign and grab a photo or two. Looks like someone lost a flip flop.

Mesquite Flat Dunes
These dunes are the best known and easiest to visit in the national park. Located in central Death Valley near Stovepipe Wells, access is from Hwy. 190 or from the unpaved Sand Dunes Road. Although the highest dune rises only about 100 feet, the dunes actually cover a vast area. This dune field includes three types of dunes: crescent, linear, and star shaped. Polygon-cracked clay of an ancient lakebed forms the floor. Mesquite trees have created large hummocks that provide stable habitats for wildlife.

At the sign I decided to walk out a little ways and see if I could get a better shot of the dunes.

Then I started following footprints in the sand and was really enjoying the walk.

The nice thing about taking a walk in the dunes wearing riding boots is you donít get sand in your shoes. Like other parts of Death Valley there was a lot more to see than just sand.

I was starting to get hungry since I didnít have breakfast before I left camp and planned to enjoy a nice breakfast at Furnace creek. Everything is expensive in Death Valley and I was cutting costs where I could so my meals were being eaten in camp so this was going to be my one splurge. I was hit with an expensive vet bill for my cat, Wilbur, the week before I left and it took a good chunk of my vacation fund. I almost cancelled my trip because the fur ball saw fit to go out get in a fight and didnít come out the winner. I hope that cat appreciates the sacrifices I make for him. Ah heck Iím sure he doesnít heís all male and we know males are unappreciative of the sacrifices us females make for them.

On to breakfast I go.

Oh wait thereís something over thereÖ..

Before I go to the Borax works site Iíll check this out.

I wonder where this road goes.

It goes to Mustard Canyon

Mustard Canyon was a nice loop back to the pavement.

Then I made my way to the Harmony Borax Works. I grabbed a bottle of water and went for a walk.

Harmony Borax works was the birthplace of the Twenty Mule Teams

Iíve seen many pictures of these wagons and watched Death Valley Days as a kid but I had no idea how huge they really were until I was standing next to one. The large wheel stands 7í tall.

For many people, nothing symbolizes Death Valley more than the famous Twenty Mule Teams. These "big teams" pulled massive wagons hauling borax from the Harmony Borax Works near Furnace Creek to the railhead near Mojave, a grueling 165 mile, ten day trip across primitive roads. Although the teams only ran for six years--1883 to 1889--they have made an enduring impression of the Old West.

The white crust on the earth here was intriguing and I had to walk out onto it and check it out. I was surprised about how hard the crust was. I thought it would be brittle and crush under my steps but it stayed solid like concrete.

The borax refinery operated only from 1883 to 1888

More to come and I'll get to breakfast yet.
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