Lodging: Hampton Inn, Tulare, CA (pronounced Too-lare-ee)
Food: Cool Hand Luke's (steakhouse)
With a comfortable night's rest in the desert behind us, we grabbed breakfast at Wrangler Buffet for way too much money. Of course it's too much, you're in the desert! Where else are you gonna eat? ... or get gas?
Both the post office and the visitor center opened at 8 AM. This was the first visitor center in the Park we had found. We got a newspaper and map; then we asked where the best place to go to see sand dunes would be. The ranger sent us up to Stovepipe Wells to see Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
We made one more stop to look over the side of the cliff on which we'd been driving and to use the hole-in-the-ground facilities, when a fighter jet came up through the "gorge", flew overhead, and was gone before we knew it! I heard the rumbling, and had looked over the railing, but the wind coming up through the cravasse pushed me backwards. Another traveler had to yell at me to let me know what was going on. It all happened so fast, I didn't get a photograph. I hope everyone has this experience. It was incredible. Those pilots are crazy!
Back on the road, mom found a road to Darwin Falls in Death Valley. There's water?
We drove down a rutted, gravel road about two miles before coming to the Darwin Falls "parking lot". We didn't realize it was a 2 mi. round trip walk after that to see the falls. Unfortunately, mom busted her knee a few years ago, and walking on uneven and loose earth paths is no longer a possibility. We turned around, our efforts fruitless, and returned to the highway to continue our way out of the park.
Leaving the park, we headed toward Lone Pine, CA where we filled up the tank. Then we headed back to climb the road out of Keeler, CA marked Cerro Gordo Road to get to the ghost town of Cerro Gordo.