Part 6: A night at Cottonwood and to Zabriskie Point in the morning.
As we drove up on Jeff, everybody was picking a spot to set up. To keep from being banned from the group forever, I parked away slightly further away so everyone else could get some sleep that night.
Craig had brought fire wood and Jeff insisted I get out the Pit-2-Go. In Death Valley you can have an above ground fire. I go one step further and pack out any charcoal and ashes via the trustworthy army ammo can. Charcoal can last a long time in the desert, so I pack it up and take it with me. The BBQ’s came out once again and we even gave it a go. I saw vegetables, couscous, and BBQ chicken, not to mention the Corona’s. Wow. Now I don’t mind gourmet food but I like to keep it simple most of the time. Steve, Tom, Craig and Dave really put on a show and I wondered where the waiter was who would be pouring the wine. Sure looked good. I told em I like wine once and a while, and always look forward to screwin that top off and takin a big swig myself. All joking aside I actually do like good wine with supper. Don fired up our grill and threw on some chicken. We started in on our supply of beverages and got the fire going. The weather was cool enough for the fire during the entire trip and I was glad I brought the Pit-2-Go along.
Someone commented on the Moon and a very bright star unusually close to it. I told them it wasn’t a star but actually Venus. Don had told everyone I was packing a scope and we both have some background in astronomy. Steve set up a tripod to try and get a camera shot. Maybe Steve can post his picture
The guys asked if I could get out my scope and take a look. If I don’t have a larger scope with me, I carry a small Televue NP-101 which does OK. I had some fun targeting Venus which was in a crescent phase just like the moon. They all swore they saw the moon not Venus until I swung it over to the moon where all they saw were huge craters. This caused the standard verbal “WOW” effect. It was just a trick to give a little perspective to the night sky and what better place to get it than in the dark skies of the desert surrounded by friends. As I was putting stuff away I asked Don about the chicken…CRAP! Burnt to a crisp! OK who needs food; we had beer (liquid bread).
It was now time to kick back around the fire, relax and enjoy a fine cigar that Don had brought. The night was a kick in the ass and at least the insect life was not as abundant as at Ballarat.
In the morning we watched the chef’s engaged in a real breakfast while we had Mucho-Cup-O-Noodles again. Jeff had his giant coffee pot going, while Don and I went for espresso and Kahlua to wart off the evil spirits. Jeff looked down at all the beer bottles and asked “You guys don’t drink do you”? This was one morning I was glad I had some hair of the dog. Mengel was still the #1 goal for the next day with a pit stop at Zabriskie Point.
We all left out for the facilities at Stovepipe Wells. This time even I hauled ass. Besides having restrooms, the store also has a spot to dump garbage and we had a bunch of bottles to get rid of. Another nice convenience that Stovepipe has is free air. It’s a slow pump but definitely better than nothing. Everyone picked up some supplies, aired up, and headed off toward Zabriskie. We had to fuel up at Furnace Creek in preparation for Mengel. On the way I got some shots of the sand dunes.
You can walk out to them if you wish. Before I ever went to Death Valley I thought most of the area would look like this. The word desert just conjures up images of sand dunes I guess.
Driving up on Furnace Creek we passed the Furnace Cr Campground. This campground (one of three) is about the greenest spot in the lower valley.
After picking up some supplies and fueling up I got a picture of the palm trees before we headed out toward Zabriskie Point.
In all the times I’ve been to Zabriskie I had never made the walk to the vista point. Not that I’m lazy; hell older people are even walkin up there. But Zabriskie has always been the place we dumped garbage when coming out of Echo and it is more or less a tourist trap, so we never made the walk. It’s also one of those places that’s best visited when the sun is setting to get nice colorful pictures. Being our group showed up in the mid morning I really wasn’t expecting much. We made the trek (with all the old folks) to the point. We got some pictures but someday I need to be there toward evening with my camera.
Walking back to the van I laughed at the attention our vehicles were getting. Zabriskie like Badwater has tour busses coming in and out most of the day and people all over the place. The vans looked a little out of place. I won’t lie; it’s cool when you get a little attention. As we walked up to the vans, the guys said they had made a change in our destination. They now wanted to do the dry falls in Echo rather than Mengel. Steve’s goal in doing the pass was in jeopardy but he agreed the change. Echo is an easy drive but the falls are something else. Jeff said he had been there but I don’t think the rest of the group had been there. Last years Forum rally explored Echo but they never made it to the dry falls as far as I know. We left Zabriskie and headed toward Echo.
(End of part 6)