Our stay at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley did not start off well. Our hotel room was in a separate building from the office, quite a long walk away. The key was not opening the door, even though the light was flashing green. It was 124 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was no cell phone service. I flagged down a golf cart that an employee was driving and asked for help. The girl opened the door by pulling the door handle UP instead of down. That door gave us trouble for the rest of our stay!
Our room was nice and cool, but the phone didn’t work. There was no way to contact the front desk when we needed more towels. (Hotels always put only three towels in the room. We are a family of four. Why do they do that?)
Another strange thing about that room was that the water coming out of the faucet was always warm. We brushed our teeth with warm water and filled up water bottles with warm water. At a place called Furnace Creek, I guess that was to be expected. Fortunately, the little refrigerator in the room worked very well, and the ice machine in the next building did made ice.
We ate a decent dinner, although it was overpriced, at the Forty-Niner Cafe. There weren’t many dining choices, and I imagine food is expensive to transport into the valley. The server was extremely nice and accommodating; I asked him if soft drinks were included in the kids’ meals. He didn’t know, so he threw them in for free.
Dinner had been early, so we decided to drive down to Badwater Basin. Badwater is the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet below sea level. It was hot.
By now, you are probably wondering why we went to Death Valley. Everyone knows it’s hot; why in world were we in Death Valley on a summer vacation to California, when we could visit the beach or the mountains or wine country?
Simply put, Death Valley is amazing. Death Valley’s heat is incredible. We carried a water bottle every time we left the car. We didn’t go on hikes. We couldn’t. But the places we explored were beautiful, amazing, awesome places…awesome in the true sense of the word.
I wanted to take the Artist’s Drive on the way back to the hotel. It is a 9 mile twisting road that goes back among the foothills, and it is most beautiful at sunset.
We thought that the range ahead of us shone brilliantly. The rocks were gleaming in the last rays of the sun shining into the valley. We thought we were already seeing the beauty of Death Valley.
Suddenly, we drove around the curve and an explosion of color was before us. It. was. awesome.
These colorful hills were already in the shadows by the time we arrived, so my pictures just don’t do it justice. This turn in the road is called Artist’s Palette, and it was easy to see why.
The temperature, the hot wind pummeling us, and the gorgeous view all combined to make us literally breathless.
We arrived at our hotel room in a much better mood. The best part of the day was yet to come, according to Lily and Emmy. While the night air cooled down to 110 degrees, we swam in the huge, warm spring-fed pool, surrounded by palm trees. It was the place to be, and even with all the other tourists swimming with us, there was plenty of room to swim.
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More posts about our California trip: