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Salt Creek, Mosaic Canyon & Mesquite Dunes

Death Valley, California: (WARNING: 29 photos posted tonight! Sorry!) Another busy day in Death Valley National Park. Of course, we both went for jogs this morning. We run from the campground, on a bike path, to the Borax Works (as in "20 Mule Team Borax"), and then up a road bull-dozed into the borax flats. I run to the ruins of a stone building at the borax works every morning.

And then I turn around and limp back to the RV.

We had several places to visit today, so headed out with a picnic lunch. Our first stop was to Salt Creek, where it is possible to see the Salt Creek Pupfish (cyprinodon salinus). The pupfish are endangered... but it was difficult to tell as we saw thousands of them today. The park has built a very nice half-mile platform around the creek and marshy area so the visitor can see the fish, yet leave them mostly undisturbed.

Salt Creek Trail in Death Valley National Park

The water is so salty, only the rare creature can adapt

Many pupfish in the brackish water - they dart around constantly and are about one inch long

Here is a close-up of a male pupfish (photo by DT)

These pupfish are mating... it is a side-by-side operation (photo by DT)

Beautiful Salt Creek... even the plants suffer from the salty water

Salt Creek

DT snapped this photo of a coyote at Salt Creek

This lizard is well camouflaged on the board walk

This Desert Spiney Lizard happily posed for me

Next we drove up to Mosaic Canyon - a slot canyon above Stovepipe Wells - where for thousands of years, flash floods and rain have eroded a narrow canyon through the sandstone, limestone, etc., into a smooth-sided chasm.

The mouth of the canyon and the start of our hike. We were at 1000 ft. elevation here.

Interesting to see all the sediment layers pushed from the earth and exposed by water

Here the water crashes into the side of the canyon, and forms a whirlpool before continuing!

Dave in Mosaic Canyon

Terry in Mosaic Canyon

Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley National Park

We enjoyed our picnic before continuing to our last stop of the day - Mesquite Dunes. Maybe I was tired (do you think?), but I thought the sand dunes were... well, sand dunes.

Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley National Park

DT at Mesquite Dunes

We had reservations for dinner at the Furnace Creek Inn. Here are the photos I took yesterday when we stopped to make our reservation:

Furnace Creek Inn

Furnace Creek Inn

Furnace Creek Inn pool

Furnace Creek Inn gardens

Furnace Creek Inn gardens

I took this photo in black & white - the dining room is like stepping back in time

We arrived early for our reservation as the policy of the Furnace Creek Inn is to reserve tables for hotel guests first... and if hotel guests do not show-up, other diners may be seated. Our reservation was for 8:15. We arrived at the hotel at 7p and were seated at 7:45. In the meantime, we had a lovely cocktail prepared at the cozy bar by Randy. Randy is very friendly and splits his time between Death Valley National Park and Yellowstone National Park. What a life.

Randy makes a mean martini

We were seated at a very nice table and had a very professional server. Thing is, Xanterra still runs the food service at Our National Parks and it will just never be more than mediocre. Over-priced and passable. Seriously - they DO try... but it is still food service from a mega-corporation. So sad that our country can't hire good regional chefs for our National Park classic hotels.

Another black & white shot of the Furnace Creek dining room

In some sort of sick homage, DT ordered the "Ernie Kent" Duck special

Thank goodness my martini was perfect... because my fish was too salty to eat

I am over. Too much exercise, too many hikes and too many boulder scrambles today. Tomorrow I am taking the day off and will not run. Instead, we will play 18 holes of golf.

Until my next update, I remain, your "if I have a stroke tonight, blame Xanterra" correspondent.

RV Park:  Furnace Creek Campground. Large back-in site. No hook-ups. Fresh water and a dump station available. Flush toilets and hot showers. Store, visitor center and restaurants within walking distance. Golf course. $18 per night, plus reservation fee and park entrance fee.