This day began in Beatty, Nevada, with Rhyolite and Titus Canyon on the menu. Marcia had to be back at Burbank Airport by 6 p.m., so we would have to be leaving Death Valley midday.
The sunrise was absolutely fabulous, with deep reds and oranges on the mid-level clouds! Unfortunately, I was walking to the vehicle in the motel parking lot at the time. I messed up on that opportunity, as it would have been great to photograph Rhyolite beneath those skies. Rhyolite was only 10 minutes or so down the road, and we spent about an hour walking around the ruins and empty lots. Just down the road, we spent a little time at the Bullfrog cemetery.
From Rhyolite we made our way west towards the Grapevine Mountains. This is via a one-way dirt road. The road is rather rough and rocky, and you would not want to subject your new Lexus to the beating it is going to get on Titus Canyon Road. On the Nevada side, the road is relatively straight and the elevation gain is steady and gradual. There is no sign welcoming you to California, but by the time you find yourself navigating up steep slopes with hairpin curves at about 5 mph, you know you are in California. My X-terra did extremely well. It is high-clearance, of course, but it is a 2WD and not a 4WD. I was kind of nervous that maybe I was making a mistake by trying this road in a non-4WD vehicle. I had done it a couple of times before in my 4WD Pathfinder, and I knew there were a couple of spots which were tricky and where I was very glad that I had 4WD at the time. Would I find myself in a spot where I would have to back-up and turn around because I could not make it?! There were a handful of VERY harrowing stretches along steep hillsides, but the road was dry and stable, and there were no really nasty rocky parts.
Anyway, the weather was sunny and perfect, though the harsh shadows did not favor photography too much.
At the ghost town of Leadfield, we poked around for about 30 minutes to see if any gold bars were laying around. I would have even been interested in a lead bar. Marcia found a vehicle to drive around in, and she was even texting while driving for a while. That is really ridiculous, because there is no cell service in Leadfield.
Soon after resuming the drive westward from Leadfield, one reaches the narrow and spectacular confines of Titus Canyon. The pictures do not really do it justice. It is just a really fun and beautiful drive beneath towering walls on both sides!
As we emerged from the mouth of the canyon, the wide open expanse of barren Death Valley filled the windshield. I never tire of that view or feeling, no matter which Death Valley canyon I am emerging from! It was almost noon, and time to get back to civilization. At our stop in the middle of Panamint Valley, the United States Air Force gave us a show!
If you look closely, you can see the jet fighter against the Panamint Range. He flew right over us a couple of times!