Day #3 (Sunday, 3/14/21) exploring Death Valley National Park included: earning Junior Ranger Badges, Badwater Basin (take 2), Natural Bridge, “Ice Cream Canyon”, a failed attempt to leave for home, and star gazing.
The kiddos did a great job on their Junior Ranger workbooks and earned new Junior Ranger badges to add to their collections. We headed back to Badwater basin to hike out and see the geometric salt shapes. It had recently rained (night before last) and the salt was a grayish color instead of the bright white we had seen on Day #1. The brochure photos looked different with bright white salt too.
It isn’t often that you meet “instant friends” and the B family was a delightful surprise on our trip. They pulled into the RV campsite next two ours and by Sunday we were planning hikes together. First up was a hike to Natural Bridge. Everyone got along famously and we had the best afternoon catching up with our brand new buddies.
We had so much fun on the hike to Natural Bridge we joined our new friends on a secret off-the-map hike the kiddos named “Ice Cream Canyon”. They chose the name because of the ink and mint green rocks and sand they saw. ￼To find the canyon, we pulled off to the right side of the road right after the 2nd dip on Artist Drive. We found the spot with the pink sand, and scrambled up a smooth boulder face that my expert rock climbing husband insisted had “plenty of good holds”. We continued scrambling up the narrow canyon until it stopped at a wall. It was at this point, that we discovered that our new friends were avid rock climbers, mountain bikers and had run a marathon a few years back. I assumed that since mama B was 5 months pregnant and had a 2-year-old in tow, our family would certainly be able to keep up with them. Whew! These athletes sure gave me a run for my money! Apparently, this homeschool mama needs to fit more exercise into her daily routine.
We preferred splitting our long drive into 2 days so after our 3rd hike of the day we decided to pack up and head to Jawbone station. We left the campsite later than we had planned and drove 30 minutes to Stovepipe Wells, where the gas station sold gas 80 cents less than the gas station at Furnace Creek (almost $5/gallon). Alas, when we arrived at the gas station in Stovepipe Wells they were out of gas. Are you kidding me with this!?! So, we drove 30 minutes back to Furnace Creek to fill up on the more expensive gasoline. Death Valley National Park is pretty isolated and remote, the next gas stations are between 60-100 miles away. By this point, we were now several hours behind schedule. We looked up, saw the gorgeous night sky, and decided to go back to the campsite and stargaze at Death Valley for one more night. First thing next morning, we headed back home with a full tank of gas.
Best part of day #3: hiking and stargazing with our new friends
- You don’t have to plan a vacation with friends to have a vacation with friends.
- Don’t be deceived by appearances.
- Always have an alternate plan because you might need it.
We hope our posts about Death Valley National Park inspire you to plan an adventure with someone you love sometime soon!
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