Above: Hal had properly fixed the DRZ out on Racetrack Rd., so it was good to go for the day
March 11, 2014
The wind that howled all night was still with us as we walked to breakfast on our last day in Beatty. Hal and I packed, then got our stuff out to the car so we would only have to put the bikes on the trailer when we finished riding. We geared up for the day, fueled up the bikes, and then took off for our last ride of this trip into Death Valley National Park.
It was the same road we’d ridden to our destinations the two days previous, but today I was seeing it for the last time this trip. I always want “one more day,” but I know what that would turn into – “several” more days. I always hate to leave.
Our first destination was Badwater Basin. I wanted the obligatory photo by the “282 ft. below sea level” sign so I could show my school kids when I got back. Once again, it was 30 miles or so beyond the Daylight Pass road. We passed Golden Canyon, the last place we’d stopped two years ago. Now it was lit by the sun and really looked golden. Very beautiful. I wished that we had the time to go there and photograph it again.
Next we passed Artist’s Drive. I could see the mountains in the distance, lit up by the sunlight, their colors enhanced by the light, and I wished again we could stop in for a few minutes to get the photos I wanted when we were there before. We couldn’t afford even an extra few minutes, so we kept going.
The salt flat at Badwater Basin (photo by Hal Korff):
Finally, we reached Badwater Basin, parked, de-geared at least partially, and walked out onto the salt flat. It was amazing, my favorite adjective describing this place, and I wanted to spend time there looking, contemplating, thinking, looking some more. We settled for a couple of photos. A Nordic family asked us if we wanted a photo with both of us together, which I thought was very kind of them to ask, and we said “yes.” But then we had to return to the bikes, and keep going.
282 ft. below sea level:
Next stop was going to be the Mesquite Dunes about a mile or so away from Stovepipe Wells. Yes, another 30 or so miles, and against the strongest headwind ever. The poor little bike had to fight through the gale, and if it wasn’t for my well-designed Shoei helmet, my head would have felt like it was being torn off. I was relieved when we turned west toward Stovepipe Wells, but then my bike quit running! I had about 100 miles on the bike by then, so I knew exactly what had happened: I ran out of gas. I got the bike to the side of the road, flipped the petcock to “reserve” position, and started the bike. I was only one mile from the gas station! So, we went into Stovepipe Wells, fueled up, and then went back to the Dunes.
The dramatic dunes:
It was another lovely place, and I only wished I had more time to photograph it. I especially wished we could have been there at the end of the day when the setting sun makes dramatic shadows on the sand. Oh well, another place to return to when we get back to Death Valley again.
Tomorrow: going home