Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

The wonderful thing about being retired and traveling is that I don't have to necessarily be any place at any given time.  So I changed my plans and came back to Death Valley earlier than planned and decided to camp at Stovepipe Wells. I managed to get the last site for the day.  I had hookups (electricity and water) and it was still pretty cheap, had I known I probably would have stayed there before.  Anyway, Stovepipe Wells is very near the Mesquite Sand Dunes so I passed them often and of course each time I just had to stop and take another photo. So here are a few of the better ones.

I was getting tired of my own cooking so I decided to go into the Stovepipe Wells Saloon for lunch. There were only 4 men at one table, me and a young couple with 2 small kids.  My waiter noticed something blowing in the distance but since this was his first week in Death Valley he wasn't sure what was going on. The more experience female waiter said it was a dust storm headed our way. As it got closer I began to smell the dust.

Well, I had left the camper windows open to let in the nice breeze so I jumped up from my seat and ran down the hill to my camper and to get my camera. By then the wind was picking up a lot. With the windows now closed I went back to the Saloon to finish lunch and sit out the storm. I don't have any photos because once it came upon us I couldn't really see out the window.  I felt like I was in Ken Burns' documentary about the Dust Bowl that I had seen last year. 

The ravens were having a ball flying into the wind.  It seemed to me that they were seeing who could stay in the air in one spot the longest. One wrong move and the wind would send them quickly flying off to one side.  I have no idea how they managed to stay in flight in one place and not flap their wings but they did.  Soon the wind moved them out of sight and we were in the middle of the storm.

About an hour and half later it began to die down and I went back to the camper.  Here are a couple of photos after the storm showing the brown dust still in the air.  It was higher by then and I was beginning to see the open blue sky again.

That evening I joined the park naturalist for a moonlight walk in the desert to learn about and to find wildlife.  Too dark for photos. Bummer.


eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a real adventure, watching the dust storm. What a cool place to visit. I love the photos, especially the bare tree. Great post and photos.

Bruni said...

The bare tree photo is my favorite as well. You need to frame that one when you get back home. Do you know what kind of trees they were and are they still alive? They remind me of bleached skeletons.

Woodswalker said...

What an amazing journey you are on! So many adventures, such inspiring landscapes. Thanks for sharing your travels with all these great photos and vivid accounts. I would love to have seen those ravens buffeted by the wind.

squirrel said...

Eileen, Bruni and Jackie thanks for the nice comments. I think the trees are mesquite and they were dead for sure. But they were not burnt in the sense of fire but the desert sand gets so hot that the dead wood become charcol as it cooks in the sand.

Potomac Valley Nature Writing Group Reading List said...

yes, these are some exquisite photos, they really evoke some subtle emotions. This is one of my favorite posts you have done so far. I like hearing about the diner, the ravens and what people say. Glad you got your windows shut! It helps to make me feel I am there. I wonder what you ordered for lunch?