Manzanar/Death Valley National Park


Posted by whalerho | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 22-10-2009

On our way to Death Valley, we stopped at Manzanar.  In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II.  It was a surreal experience to walk the actual grounds where these people were held prisoner.  It was made even more surreal to see Ken’s uncle’s name, Donald Nishimura (just a boy at the time)  on the list of people detained at this camp.  These good families lost their businesses. their homes and many,  their pride.  In 1988, Congress and President Reagan passed legislation that granted a formal apology to Japanese Americans who were incarcerated.  It was a real eye opener for the kids to visit this place and know the difficulties that are part of their heritage.

Death Valley is  world renowned for its colorful and complex geology.  I envisioned Death Valley to be somewhat desolate but it was far from it.  Peaceful, beautiful and wide open are just a few adjectives to describe this amazing place.  Ken got inspired one evening and made a FIVE pound burrito for dinner! 

We spent some time at the Mesquite Flat Dunes.  The kids came manned with plastic trash bags ready to slide down the side of the 150′ dunes.  The tiny grains of sand were actually grains of quartz and feldspar and were so fine that they didn’t make for good sledding.  Andrew decided to trek across the sand field to hike to the top of the tallest dune in the area. We took a picture of him at the top and he looked like he was a teeny tiny ant on the top of an anthill!

We took a tour of Scotty’s Castle, “a remarkable and exotic edifice that rises from the dust like a desert mirage”.  The story of the castle was as fun as seeing the castle in person.  The castle takes its name from Walter Scott, better known as “Death Valley Scotty”, an ex prospector and performer at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  Scotty met Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson, who had been urged by his doctors to spend time in a warm dry climate.  Scotty roped Johnson into investing in a fictitious gold mine on this property.  Despite the fact that gold was never found, Scotty and Johnson became friends for life.  Johnson, having lived a very sheltered life,  was able to live the wild west life through this friendship and hearing Scotty’s stories. 

At 282 feet BELOW sea level, Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America.  Two to four thousand years ago, the basin was the site of a 30 foot lake that evaporated and left a one to five foot layer of salt in its wake.  A briny pond, four times saltier than the ocean, still remains in the basin during the winter.  A really amazing site! 

Comments (1)

Howdy folks,

Nice representation of Death Valley you have here! I always enjoy looking at photographs of the territory, and reading about other people’s experiences in this Land of Legend. Take care …

Your friend,
author of:
Death Valley Book Of Knowledge
Exploring Wild Death Valley

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