After visiting Joshua Tree National Park, I didn’t think there could be a landscape more otherworldly. Well I was mistaken because some 6 hours later, pulling into Death Valley National Park (to the strains of The Police’s “Walking on the Moon” – Neil always has a soundtrack to match the occasion!), it was obvious that this scenery was becoming even more otherworldly…
One of the first places you stop as you enter the park from the south-east is Zabriskie Point:
Named for Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, (vice-president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the early 20th century), Zabriskie Point is a part of Amargosa Range located in east of Death Valley noted for its erosional landscape. It is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago before Death Valley came into existence.
Wikipedia provides the following information about Zabriskie Point in popular culture:
Zabriskie Point is also the name of a 1970 movie by Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, notable for its soundtrack featuring music by British band Pink Floyd and Jerry Garcia.
The philosopher Michel Foucault called his 1975 acid trip at Zabriskie Point the greatest experience of his life.
This location is featured prominently on the cover of U2’s album The Joshua Tree.
This location was used to represent the surface of Mars in the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars.
Zabriskie Point was mentioned in the cult horror film Dog Soldiers.
Zabriskie Point is the name of Radio Massacre International’s album released in 2000.
Zabriskie Point is a Soviet Code for a location on the Surface of Mars in Omon Ra, a dystopian thriller novel by Pelevin
Heading on into the park,you simply cannot ignore the fact that it is hot.
Despite the heat, we managed to get out and enjoy the magnificent, breathtaking (literally!) scenery. Early the next morning, we headed to Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level and the lowest point in the Unites States.
And boy, it is HOT!
Can a foodie forage for food out in the hot basin? Seems they can:
After leaving Badwater, we headed out in the airconditioned car to check out the area known as Artist’s Palette – an area noted for having various and striking rock colours. These are caused by oxidation of different metals (red, pink and yellow from iron salts, green from decomposing tuff-derived mica, whilst manganese produces purple).
Of course, in any valley there is sand. And where there’s sand, there must be dunes.
Apart from the salt discovery, there was not much exciting going on food-wise in the Valley. We stayed in Stovepipe Wells Village which smacked a little of a British holiday village (“Hi di Hi” anyone?). The accommodations were fine and certainly amongst the best priced in the Valley, though there was only one place to eat.
The food was not cheap (you kind of understand because well, you are in the middle of nowhere) and nothing special. This was the salad that accompanied the meals:
Neil had a decent steak whilst we were there but again, very 1970s-esque:
Possibly the highlight of the “village” for us was this:
Yes, it seems we are destined to find awesome “saloons” on this trip. Unfortunately, unlike the hopping, happening Joshua Tree Saloon, this one was strangely empty for most of the day. And night.
Our last night there, we wandered in for a nightcap. It was empty then at 8pm. Not to be deterred by the cavernous room, we sat ourselves down and ordered some drinks. And put some tunes on the jukebox, you know, as you do. And all of a sudden, it started filling up with people. But these people were not there to drink or party – noooo, they had been sent there to “wait for a table” in the all of a sudden “so busy” dining room. So busy that they were assigning numbers and people were having to wait for their table. Listen people, it’s not New York City. Both nights we ate in the restaurant, there were far more servers than diners so I couldn’t understand that they were making people wait. We got chatting to a lovely Belgian family who were confused and perplexed about the system (not to mention hungry) and when they were finally called into the dining room, we all raised a cheer. To which the “host” replied “You’ll be waiting a long time”. Excuse me? I BEG your pardon? Totally unnecessary. Fortunately for us, we had already beaten the European dinner hour so would not be at this man’s mercy but really… Unfortunately, you really are at their mercy when staying in these villages as there is nowhere else to go but that should not be a reason for the staff to behave unprofessionally. And so ended our night at the “saloon”…
The next day we headed off, still marvelling at the scenery…
Stay tuned for more Road Trip posts – coming up, Yosemite National Park!
Today I am pleased to announce the winner of my President’s Choice Canadian-only giveaway. I used Random.org to choose our lucky winner Tonya who said:
Congrats Tonya – email me with your address so the kind folks at Hill and Knowlton can get your prize pack to you!