Mike Uriell and I left San Diego early Thursday am to go to Death Valley. Calculating it would take 6 hours to get there for sunrise at Bad Water. Discovered Hwy 15 was down to one lane from San Bernardino to Victorville. We lost about 45 minutes travel time. I cut the driving time with a heavy foot on the acclerator. I planned on taking the southern route into Death Valley on Route 178, but it was closed. The only other option was to go north to Death Valley Junction, and then west on Hwy 190 and down into Death Valley, and then south on 178 to Bad Water. Somehow we arrive at Bad Water a few minutes before sunrise. Bad Water is not what is was in the past for photographers. The National Park Service made it comfortable for tourists, but in doing so ruined access to the best locations and added a boardwalk out into the flats that is visible in your image.
We left there after a few minutes and went south a mile to a better location. We walked out on the salt flats to do some panoramas of the early light on the wester mountain range. Once the sun was up, we drove south. The further we went, the flower population increased dramatically. The desert sunflower,(Desert Gold), was covering the landscape. Mixed in were Lilac Sunbonnets and the Mojave Desertstar and others I did not identify. The air was warming up from the chilly morning 28 degrees to comfortable 62F. There was no wind and the morning haze was clearing. Once we passed Mormon Point the flower display took over. Flowers were popping up along the edge of the highway. We drove all the way down to the Harry Wade Road taking the opportunity to stop and photography the scenery. The road was closed at Harry Wade intersection. I do not have good 4 wheel tires on my vehicle and decided to not cross over to the west road where I heard the flower explosion was the best in Warm Spring Canyon.
By 1pm we were tired and burned out and in need of food. We stopped in at the Furnace Creek area to eat. There I noticed the old 20 Mule Team wagon and other displays were missing. Inquiring, I learned that the resort, restaurant and camp site are scheduled to be removed. Leaving only the head quarter building and gas station. Why? Know one seems to know, or just won’t divulge what they do know.
We ventured up north but Scotty’s Castle is closed do to storm damage. The flower population is giving a meek showing up north. We drove to Beaty Nevada to stay in the motel 6 there. We did stop off at Rhyolite, and old ghost town that was a good photographers place, but it is now pure crap with chain link fences wrapping everything.
I saw high clouds moving in so planned to drive over to Lone Pine in the morning for sunrise. We went to bed early and rose early the next morning. It is 115 mile trip and I planned 2.5 hours to get there, in the dark. The morning glow around the Alabama Hills would be about 6:15am. We rode into the Alabama Hills and set up the cameras in ample time. The sunrise was blocked for a while with eastern clouds but we did get some great color lasting only for a few minutes. I was testing the Canon 5DS and long exposure times. We finished there around 8am and went to breakfast in Lone Pine before driving back to San Diego.
These are a few images from this short exploration.
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