Raining in the Desert??

Trip Start May 09, 2009
Trip End May 27, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, December 6, 2009

Death Valley had not seen any rain since February -- except while we were there!!  Yes, we went to the desert and experienced one of its rare storms one day, with wind gusts estimated to be up to 60 mph.  The rain wasn't much, but enough that some areas had standing water the next day that didn't previously and the mountains nearby had snow on top. 

Not what we had expected, but Death Valley was full of surprises.  I had in my mind a vision of sand dunes everywhere (yes, I've seen Lawrence of Arabia several times).  There was an area with sand dunes, but there was so much more.  Incredible canyons of rock, the valley alive with plants that have adapted to the hot (in the summer) arid climate, and wildlife (again, adaptors of the harsh environment) and mountains surrounding the valley.  

Death Valley was named by a group of gold-seeking pioneers called the 49ers who took a shortcut through Death Valley in 1849 but experienced a lot of hardship and one death.  But Death Valley, like Joshua Tree, is absolutely beautiful and surprisingly diverse in terrain and plantlife. Our photos do only partial justice to the area. 

Obviously, it's a whole different scene in the extreme heat of the summer and we were glad to be there at this time of year, even though it got very cold at times.  An interesting time would be during their "rainy season" (they get less than 2" per yr.)  in February when rain brings out the desert wildflowers. 

As many of you probably know, Death Valley is not only one of the hottest places in the world in the summer (usually over 120 degrees - with a US record of 134) but it is also the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere -- at Badwater Basin where it is 282 feet below sea level.  We stood at that site and marveled that we could be so close to mountains but so "down in the valley."

Definitely one of the more interesting national parks...but then they all are!

p.s. This blog (and its blogger) will be taking a break for the holidays.  We are flying from Las Vegas to visit family and friends in Nashville TN and Ohio and will resume our travels in January when we will head to Arizona and some sun.  Happy holidays, everyone!!
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