Doing the Tourist Thing

On Monday Tom and I had to return to Furnace Creek (an hour away) to get processed for our Smart Cards, which allow us computer access.  I can now check e-mail and write my blog on the computers at Scotty’s Castle as long as I do it during my off hours.  While we were down in the southern part of the park anyway, we decided to do the tourist thing and see the parts of the park that most people see.

Most people only come to Death Valley for a day.  They go to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and see the things that are close by before they leave.  Death Valley is so large that a one-day trip is like an appetizer:  you’ve had a taste but it isn’t the main meal.  We thought we should see these things because people who come to Scotty’s Castle often ask us about them.

The camp where the Chinese Borax workers stayed
Some of the 20 mule team wagons
Remnants of the Harmony Borax Works

We started with the Harmony Borax Works interpretive trail.  The 20 Mule Team company only worked in Death Valley for five years but they became legend as they continued to produce their soaps and sponsored the early television show Death Valley Days.

We drove through Mustard Canyon – which is very yellow – hence the name.

Tom at Badwater Basin
Tom at Badwater Basin

We went to Badwater Basin and stood beside the sign.  We also took a picture of the sea level sign across the street.

Dryfall beyond Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge

We hiked up to Natural Bridge and beyond to the dry fall.  Most people turn around as soon as they see the bridge, so we had the second part of the hike to ourselves.

Artist's Palette
Artist’s Palette

Then we drove Artist’s Drive, which is one of the prettiest routes in the park.  Artist’s Palette is a collection of rocks in one place that have many different colors:  green, red, white, blue, brown, gray, pink, orange.  They are beautiful and amazing.

We ate at the 49ers Cafe and had delicious but way overpriced cheeseburgers.

A stream in the desert
The pupfish are the tiny dark dots in the middle of the water
An amazing amount of water in the middle of the valley floor

Finally we headed to Salt Creek to walk the Interpretive Boadwalk there and see the pupfish.  There were hundreds of the little tiny fish found only in Death Valley.  It was amazing to see a stream that flows year round on the valley floor.

After all this tourist stuff we headed back home.

At Scotty’s Castle we get all kinds of tourists.  Most of them are going out of their way to visit because the Castle is so remote.  So 99% percent of our tourists are interesting, intelligent people who are very interested in what they see and the tours they take.  And then you have the 1%:  people who think they know everything already or people who won’t listen to what you tell them or folks who feed the wildlife.  Park Rangers call these people “tourons”:  a combination of tourist and moron.  So Tom and I were careful not to be tourons on our day of visiting the tourist attractions.