Hottest. Lowest. Driest

Gee, can they make Death Valley sound any more attractive (in addition to such an enticing name?) What a great slogan. It owns the hottest recorded temperature in the world (132 degrees Fahrenheit, I think. Back in 1913). It’s the lowest spot in the world at Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level). But, I’m willing to argue about it being the driest. We’ve camped there three years – one in early January, once early March, and this time in late March. Each time, we have endured substantial rainfall. Fun-killing, stormy rainfall. So, the feeble claim of “less than 2 inches of rainfall per year” isn’t really sounding too factual to us. But, what an amazing place to explore and camp.

For the first time, we spent three nights in the northernmost campground called Mesquite Spring, and it’s now our first choice of campgrounds.wp-1490669090641.jpg It’s about 35 large sites, tucked in along the Death Valley Wash. We had the perfect campsite – our door faced east, so our awning offered abundant afternoon shade, which was the envy of every camper there.

The Ubehebe Crater there is probably my favorite place in the entire Park. This huge crater is over a half-mile in diameter.wp-1490669158422.jpg Black cinder sides (up to 150 feet thick in spots) make an easy walk down to the botton 600 feet below, and a heart-pumping hike back to the rim. It’s gorgeous, and the walk around the rim’s circumference is not to be missed.wp-1490669171036.jpg For the first time, we cycled to the Crater – not a great distance, but with some long steep grades punctuated with strong swirling winds. It was a great day.

We decided to hike the next day at Fall Canyon, which we had never yet visited. wp-1490669048443.jpgTowering colorful walls line the canyon, which narrows to about 15′ wide at points. wp-1490998951249.jpgThe hike deadends at a dry waterfall about 3-1/2 miles from the parking lot. Although this doesn’t sounds tough, it’s a steady uphill trek through a gravelly, sandy wash to get there. It was a big relief to get to the end, and find a shady spot to site along the wall while we ate lunch.

After three nights, we were ready to move on to the southern end of the Park. The temperature difference was astonishing – Mesquite Falls is about 1800′, and Furnace Creek (appropriately named) is about -200′. There was about a 15 degree difference in the temperature. When we tow, we keep our window shades up, to prevent them from accidentally snapping up and breaking. Unfortunately, that also lets the sun beat in. By the time we secured a site at Furnace Creek and set up camp, it was probably well over 100 degrees in the Fireball. Of course, it was absolutely dead still, without a whisper of air to help push out some of the heat.20170327_194152.jpg Our puny ceiling fan really couldn’t help much. So, we parked our camp chairs in the shade of some large nearby shrubby trees, and waited for the sun to go down, and for things to cool off. It remained uncomfortably hot inside the whole night. It felt like this.20170327_194112.jpgOur campsite was only available for one night, so in the morning, we quickly cycled to Zabriskie Point to enjoy the color explosion there.wp-1490668553298.jpgwp-1490668567860.jpg We decamped for Las Vegas, taking the long route out, stopping at all the points of interest in the south end of the Park, and had a thoroughly enjoyable day on the road. Devil’s Golf Course was our first stop. These salt-encrusted mounds are stiff and prickly. You wouldn’t want to have a misstep and fall – it would be pretty painful.wp-1490668451319.jpgNo trip to Death Valley would be complete without a stroll at Badwater, the lowest spot in the world. A thick, dusty salt plain stretches as far as you can see. In the bright sunlight, it’s blindingly white. It’s a crazy experience.20170327_193158.jpgwp-1490668287193.jpgwp-1490668254541.jpg At the very southermost edge, we encountered a strange plant called Dodder, or witches’ hair, for the very first time. This wiry orange tangle of springy vine attaches itself to a host plant. It’s very odd to see, and even more unusual to touch, having kind of a dry, yet spongy feel.20170327_192532.jpgOn to Las Vegas, where we are visiting my sister Gail and Dan. We’re overdue for a few repairs (including the installation of a new converter), and a much needed total cleanup. Everything in and about the Fireball is looking pretty raggedy, and we were almost looking forward to the job of a good cleaning overhaul. A bit of quality family time, and some quality grilled goods (Dan’s fantastic outdoor kitchen + John’s great grilling skills) were all on the agenda.

Sadly, every good thing about being here has been overshadowed by the fact that Jezzy was attacked by a stray pit bull, while she and I were walking Thursday morning. It jumped her from behind, and had her down before I ever even saw him. You’d be surprised at how loudly I can yell, while kicking that beast as hard as I could. Two guys who were painting the house across the street ran over and were banging on the pit with an aluminum ladder, while I continued to kick and snap him with my leash. All this was to no affect whatever. John finally heard my screams and came charging out into the street. He grabbed the pit by the neck from behind, and dragged him off Jezzy. I was so relieved to see her spring up and run toward the house.

Long story short, we took her to my sister’s vet, where she had surgery that afternoon to close up her eye socket, which had been torn to the bone. She’s got a bunch of stitches under the eye, and a drain to help with the blood/fluid in the deep pocket that has resulted. Fortunately, her other injuries were superficial. The vet at Cheyenne Tonopah Animal Clinic was fantastic, and there staff provided comfort to the three of us, who were badly shaken. Here are pre- and post-surgery photos of Jezzy.wp-1491000060535.jpgwp-1490999047380.jpgShe may have some permanent nerve damage (can’t blink fully), but we won’t know that for months. Las Vegas Animal Control was also wonderful. The officer who picked the dog up was kind and sympathetic. Actually, the dog was very docile once removed from Jezzy, and was wagging his tail happily as he was loaded into the Animal Control truck. We’ve filled out all the forms, the owner has been identified. We’re not sure what may happen next. We may get restitution for medical costs, but that’s not a major issue for us. We want Jezzy well, want to get rid of the Cone (my brother-in-law Dan calls Jezzy “Motorola”), and try to put this behind us. For sure it will take me a while. I’m on the verge of tears every minute. It’s painful to see Jezzy colliding with walls and chairs, trying to navigate around the house, but she’s doing pretty well. We’re keeping the pain meds poured on, as often as prescribed, so we hope she’s not too uncomfortable, even though she seems pretty confused.wp-1490993109530.jpg It’s going to be even more difficult in the Fireball, as the Cone is as wide as our floorspace, meaning that she won’t be able to turn around. Somehow, we’ll make this all work. We’ve extended our stay here in order to take Jezzy back to the Vet for removal of the drain, but hope to be moving on again Sunday.

Yeah, onward.

 

 

26 thoughts on “Hottest. Lowest. Driest

  1. Hope all is well with you guys today. It really was good that it happened right in front of the house. Sounds like that other dog flat out lost its mind. But that makes him a danger to the community. Thank God he didn’t go after you or John.

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    • I keep wondering how everything would have turned out if I had still been around the corner. Gotta stop doing that – I’m making myself crazy.

      Went back to get yesterday and drain was removed from Jezzy’s face. Another week before the stitches come out. We’re trying an inflatable collar instead of the cone. She can see where she’s going, and now fits quite nicely in the Fireball. We are leaving Vegas this morning.

      See you in a few weeks.

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  2. Oh no…poor Jezzy. My heart is so sad for her, all of you. How traumatic…and do look into that soft cone as our grand dog used one from car accident. Hope she heals sooner…I’ve always had spark for her!

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  3. Wow, so sorry to hear about Jezzy’s injury. Hopefully Jazz will bounce back quickly and you and John can also heal from the trauma asap. Thoughts and prayers with you all! We’re in NJ in a holding pattern due to weekend snowstorm in vt.

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    • Thanks, Cathie. The weather sure hasn’t been anyone’s friend this year. For the past two days, we’ve had a shit storm of wind and sand. Gusts as high as 84mph just down the road from us. You couldn’t see any distance at all. So happy we weren’t in the Fireball.

      Getting stalled is hard, isn’t it? Once we are pointed toward home, I just want to get there. Hope things clear up soon. Time for the snow to retreat for awhile, isn’t it?

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  4. I was all set to comment on your wonderful photos of Death Valley until I read what happened to poor Jezzy. I hope that the owners of the pit bull are forced to pay all of your vet bills plus a bit more! Maybe if that were to happen, people would be better at keeping their dogs under control.

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    • Hi Jerry. We have no idea what will happen to the dog owner. Actually, it escaped from a woman who was taking care of him – her story is that the dog dug out from under a fence and escaped while she was out shopping. I’m just happy that Animal Control knows who the owner is. Restitution would be nice, but actually that’s the least of my worries. We have to revisit the Vet today, and are hoping for encouraging news.

      Thanks for checking in.

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  5. It’s been a few years since I visited Death Valley, but your story brought back my memory of the heat and desolation. Poor Jezzy, hoping for a speedy recovery. We just got home to VA this evening after a wonderful three months in FL. See you all in May!

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  6. ❤️ is aching for Jezz. Cousin Nell spent many weeks in a cone a fe summers ago, albeit much smaller. All will be fine I am sure.

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  7. Thank goodness you have a few days respite at your sister’s house. Sounds horrible. Scotty and I have some family and friends with pit bulls, and we were starting to think that their reputation wasn’t deserved. Perhaps not with some of them. We have a friend who was walking in a neighborhood who was badly attacked by a pit bull. Send Jezzy our best get well wishes.

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    • It was shocking to see how this dog went from attacking Jezzy to a docile, tail-wagging pooch. He was happy as a clam when the Animal Control officer loaded him into the truck. It’s the yin/yang swings of personality that make them unreliable as pets.

      We are happy to be here at Gail’s house. I’m also happy (if that can be possible) that the attack happened right in front of the house. If I had still been a block away…..

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  8. I never knew Death Valley could be so spectacular in color and shadows; great photos. Seeing the close-up of Jezzy is heartbreaking; she must be so traumatized by the incident as I’m sure you are too. Thankfully, John came to the rescue and your were at your sister’s to get Jezzy to the vet quickly. They do make softer cones if it turns out she needs to keep it on longer. They are like a material fabric so don’t get the jarring feeling when walking down the hallway and hitting the corner of the wall or doorway. Hope she heals quickly and doesn’t have lingering eye damage.

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    • Thanks, Ellalou. Death Valley is the National Park we have visited the most times, and each time it’s different.

      We are hoping to get encouraging new from Vet today. Will check on a smaller cone. I don’t think we will even be able to get Jezzy through the door with the cone she has now. We’ve got an engineering project on our hands to get this to work. But it will work, somehow.

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