Desert Roadtrippers, Part One
A LONG WAY FROM THE BAY:
For the past several years, the “Eye on the Bay” crew has been plotting and pleading to make a trip to the southern California desert. Think about it, our staff spends more than 300 days a year focusing our sights and passions on the greater San Francisco Bay Area, so it’s no surprise that we get a little urge to break geographic boundaries and show our faithful viewers the “other reaches of the state.”
So why the desert? Let’s just say there’s about eight staffers that each wanted to take on some portion of a 200 mile swath of the southeastern corner of the California. One wanted to show off spring wildflower blooms in Death Valley, one person wanted to explore the wasted remains of the Salton Sea, while Palm Springs, which has become a weekend getaway hotspot for Bay Area residents, was on someone else’s radar. Then, others had cravings to visit a trailer park named ‘Hicksville’, an old dusty Hollywood movie set called ‘Pioneertown’ and something referred to as the ‘Integratron’ in Landers, CA.
Our solution? Wrap it all up into a 1,500 mile roundtrip, five-part series. Add three local television hosts with completely different interests, throw them into a tightly packed convertible and leave the rest to the road-trip gods.
ON THE WAY:
Our journey took us over the Sierras and south on Highway 395 – yes, we could have done the I-5 route, but the Sierras are just too scenic! While we were under the crunch to get to Death Valley, there are plenty of worthy stops along 395! Mono Lake and the bubbling hot springs south of Mammoth Lakes are two spots that are a must visit. You alson should check out the cuisine at the Whoa Nellie Deli, housed inside the Tioga Gas Mart in Lee Vining, CA.
IN DEATH VALLEY:
While it’s not the most desirably named of all the National Parks, if you’ve never visited Death Valley, you’re in for a special time. It’s a mix of geologic wonder, stunning scenics and there’s roadtrips within roadtrips to make, once you’re inside her web. The best way to read up on the sites we featured (Artists Palette, Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course, Devil’s Racetrack, Teakettle Junction, Scotty’s Castle), visit these websites:
We drove forever to get just about anywhere, after all, Death Valley National Park is about the size of five greater San Francisco Bay Areas. So, when we arrived at the Furnace Creek Inn, we had no trouble calling this gem, a true desert oasis!
The Furnace Creek Resort consists of two properties, the well-appointed Inn at Furnace Creek and the more affordable Ranch at Furnace Creek. The Inn boasts beautiful rooms, a fantastic hot springs pool (which we definitely utilized) and delicious southwestern/pacific-rim cuisine. Note, the Inn is only opened from mid-October to mid-May.
The Ranch at Furnace Creek was originally a working ranch, and is now a year-round getaway, with more than 220 rooms. The Ranch offers golf, a steakhouse, saloon (try the Badwater Ale) and jeep and bike rentals, for those seeking adventures in the desert. Visitors should also stop into the Borax History Museum located on site.