We left for Death Valley from Hillsboro, Oregon on Thursday, 3/12. As darkness
fell, and we were going through Grants Pass, the "Check Engine" indicator
light came on, followed by the "Rear Antilock" and "Brake" indicators (hey,
its an Explorer with 95,000 miles, what do you expect?) We kept going,
and the truck seemed to continue to work OK.
From Portland, we took Interstate 5 to the Mt. Shasta junction in California.
From there, we took Highway 89 and 44 to Susanville, and Highway 395 to
Reno, Nevada. We got there about 1 am, and stayed at the Motel 6.
We got up early Friday, 3/13, and drove from Reno on ALT 50 to Fallon,
and took Highway 95 to Hawthorne, Coaldale, and Tonopah. From Beatty, we
took 374 over Daylight Pass and into Death Valley. We got to Furnace Creek
Ranch, our home for the week, at about 2 pm. The trip was 910 miles long,
and took about 17 hours. We spent the rest of Friday moving in to our cabin.
On the drive over Daylight Pass, it was raining really hard, a rarity in
Death Valley. As we continued down into the valley, we actually passed
the head of a newly formed river running next to the road downhill. Down
on the valley floor, rains from earlier in the week caused the desert floor
to bloom. This year could very well be the wettest year on record for Death
Valley, with 1.8 inches of rain by mid march, more than all of 1997 (1.6
The Desert Blooms
We spent Saturday walking around the ranch. David, Courtney, Mom, Dad,
and Grandma showed up around 3 pm. David and Courtney had flown to Las
Vegas from Connecticut Friday night, and Mom, Dad, and Grandma had flown
into Las Vegas Saturday morning. They rented two cars and drove the roughly
150 miles to Death Valley. By Saturday night, we were ready to get out
and do Death Valley!