Escaping the Rain…Not Quite!

Sunny California hasn’t been so sunny this winter and I know we shouldn’t complain too much because we always need the rain. However, it has been a long winter and we were really looking forward to our trip to the Southwest and beyond to enjoy the spring without the rain. We planned this trip last summer and were mostly concerned with it being too hot. We never thought that it may end up too rainy or even too snowy, but so far we have already canceled our stop at the California Poppy Reserve because it rained both days (not to mention the flowers haven’t bloomed yet). We also just rebooked a photo tour in Arches National Park because of possible rain and rebooked our stop in Bryce Canyon because there is so much snow in the area. The low temperature of 20 degrees in the trailer worries us a bit. This has all amounted to a lot of weather-induced changes-a first for us! All that being said, we are getting quite a bit of sunshine so far intermingled with some rainy days and enjoying the sun whenever it comes out. As you can see in our feature photo, we had water covered roads on the day we left. In fact, the Pacheco Pass road was covered with flowing water a half a dozen times and we saw 3 wrecks in about 15 miles. We took it slow and made our way to our first stop-Death Valley National Park.

I love our National Parks! They are all so unique and offer amazingly different views of our beautiful country. Death Valley is no exception. First of all, did you know that it has hot springs? And that they started bringing in tourists as an income source after they quit mining Borox and hauling it out with 20 mule teams? The resort is named the Oasis at Death Valley and a hot spring keeps the swimming pool at a toasty 85 degrees year round. They have three fancy restaurants on site and a golf course as well. One of the restaurants is named The Last Kind Words Saloon and the interior decor was spectacular. The food was good too. See what I mean? Unique.

It also has some incredible landscapes which include Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level, the lowest elevation in North America. While there walked out on the salt flats which has a repeating polygon shape in the salt/sand. How does that even happen? We also hiked in the Mosaic Canyon and got sprinkled on just enough to make the rock scrambling slippery. If you guessed that I wasn’t a huge fan of slipping on marble rocks, you are right! But I made it and was glad I went. Death Valley is an International Dark Sky Park which meant that we could see star-filled skies every clear night. We enjoyed a couple of ranger talks held after dark and loved it.

Death Valley is a huge place with many one of a kind experiences. We wanted to see one of the ghost towns here so we headed out towards the town of Beatty, Nevada for fuel and a stop at the ghost town called Rhyolite. The town existed from 1904 and only lasted until 1916. They were mining quartz and gold. Right before the entrance to town we saw a sign for a free museum called Goldwell Open Air Museum. It was filled with a quirky collection of outdoor sculptures. Who knew you could find a sculpture of the Last Supper in the desert! Finally, we also went to Father Crowley Vista Point also known as Star Wars Canyon. Incredible views with possible viewing of military training flights through the narrow canyon. It’s hard to imagine the fighter jets traveling below the rim of the canyon at about 400 mph. We didn’t get to see them, but there is always next time.

After this stop we made our way to Las Vegas to spend a few days with Matthew, Samantha, and Malcolm. It rained one day but was perfect family time. One great thing about the cooler weather was an opportunity to visit Valley of Fire State Park. We wanted to go last fall when we were visiting but it was in the 90’s still in October not recommended for a side trip. It’s about an hour out of Las Vegas and was really cool. Amazing red rocks and mountains as far as the eye can see. We did a couple short walks from the truck to get the best views and Elephant Rock. See the photo below. I guess it kind of looks like an elephant. After Las Vegas we went south to Phoenix.

The whole family was able to meet up here for some Spring Training action. The weather was perfect for enjoying family and baseball. Maybe we can make this an annual event. The rest of the family was only able to stay a few days so Mike and I have been enjoying other sights in Arizona as well. We made a day trip to Tucson to visit Saguaro National Park in the Sonora Desert. Wildflowers were in bloom and the landscape was so beautiful. It’s so different from Death Valley considering they are both deserts. We ended up spending a lot more time then I originally thought in the national park and missed being able to visit the old Spanish fort named Presidio San Augustin del Tucson to learn more about the history of this area. Just another reason to come back. While driving around this old area though we came across the El Charro Cafe and the line was out the door at 4:30 in the afternoon. It is the nations oldest Mexican restaurant and somewhat famous. We got our name on the list and enjoyed one of the best Mexican meals ever! I have a feeling we will be back for sure. Tomorrow we head out for Monument Valley on the northern border of Arizona. Looking forward to some more beautiful sights.


Add yours →

  1. Very interesting!
    Will you be coming to Washington??


  2. Beautiful photos! Love your storytelling too🥰


  3. Hi, love your travels. I’ve been to Saguaro National Park, beautiful. San Augustine in Tucson and the best meal at El Charro! Next time in Tucson, check out the Titain Missile tour, great information of the last decommissioned nuclear missile open for tours. Also, Kartchner Caverns in the area. I’m heading to Monument Valley on Sunday! Happy travels!


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