The sky is clear this morning. We have to move the RV today to a different spot. The one we have been in was only available for 3 days.
BTW, We checked several times and no one ever used that site. It has become a common problem in National and State parks where people reserve a site and don’t cancel when they know they will not be using the RV site. So we had to pack up and move because someone was selfish. Also, they were selfish because the spot was not available for someone to use.
The RV is prepared to move and we are going out to go on a scenic drive. We need to be back by 12noon to move out of our current site to the new one.
Our first stop, Zabriskie Point. This was a walk up to an overlook of death valley and some very interesting geology. It was a cold morning.
Next was the 20 mule mine wagon route through a canyon. This was also a filming location for Star Wars Return of the Jedi as C3P0 and R2D2 were traveling to Jabba's Palace.
The palace was matte painted into the frames. Floods have almost erased the location and changed the background. There was someone setup with a tripod and camera in the location so we just passed by on the road. It has changed a lot over the last 40 plus years.
The area is still amazing and so different than the rest of the park.
Next, we drove up to Dante's Peak. The peak is at just over 5,500 feet and it was cold. When we got to the top it was 32 with a strong wind. This was the location that Luke and Obi-Wan stood to look down on Mos Eisley.
The Dante's view is at 5,475 feet above sea level and is directly above Badwater which is the lowest point in the park at -282 feet below sea level.
We still had a little time before we could move into the new RV spot so we drove to Artist Palette drive. The area is called Artist's Palette because of the varieties of colors which are caused by the oxidation of different metals. The red, pink and yellow are from iron salts. Green is from decomposing mica. The purple is manganese.
As we started, the tan and whites of the valley would soon change.
We did not catch this area at the right time but it was still amazing. The perfect time is a little before sunset.
This was another Star Wars filming location where R2D2 traveled alone in a narrow canyon and eventually gets captured by the Jawas.
The Jawas for this scene were children of the local Park Rangers. Originally all the scenes were to be filmed Tunisia but weather made that impossible. Only 2/3rds of the scenes were usable. George Lucas said that they were lucky to get as much as they did in Tunisia. He knew Death Valley could work as an alternative for the unusable scenes so several locations were used to fill in scenes.
With just a little more time till noon, we drove to the Borax Works.
Many areas of Death Valley were used by companies to mine natural resources throughout the valley. Borax was plentiful in one area and equipment was brought in to process the mineral. Borax was so profitable that it was called White Gold. It was used to wash clothes, for potters, farmers, meat packers, blacksmiths, and even by morticians.
Harmony Borax Works operated from 1883 to 1888. The primary work force were Chinese workers. They were paid $1.30 per day but from that had to pay back for meals and lodging to the company store.
Mule teams pulled processed Borax out and water into the valley. Drinkable water was rare in the valley. 36 tons of borax could be hauled at one time. 1,200 gallons of water would then be brought back with the empty borax wagon. All together there were 20 mules, a borax wagon, and a water tank. The largest wagon wheels were 7 feet tall and the entire thing was 100 feet long from the nose of the front mules to the back of that last wagon. The poor mules had to haul the wagons 165 miles across the desert to the nearest railroad.
Soil was put on small push carts and taken up to the top of the hill where it was dumped into vats. Water was added to the vats and boiled to remove impurities and concentrate the borax.
Next back to the RV to move and have lunch.
We decided to drive to the farthest point of the valley to hike the rim of a volcano. Well a cinder cone. It took over and hour to get there but the hike was incredible.
There are two small secondary cinder cones.
The hike was tough. A thick cover of cinder from the eruption covered the ground like small rocks and pebbles.
The wind was howling and the temperature dropped as we approached the top. It was a challenging hike but the views were amazing.
That hike was a wild experience. Like walking on another planet.
Back to the RV before sunset. The heading out in the morning to our campground in Pahrump, NV.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...