Presidents' Day weekend
A night of crappy sleep and a hundred miles to go to get into the heart of Death Valley? No problem-- good thing we had plenty of packaged crap for breakfast, since the teepee didn't even have hot water.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes was friggin' packed when we arrived. Hike out far enough, though, and Emily still found some appropriate people-free views for her Instagram poses. (her better half is a saint for tolerating this!!!! o_0)
Given the lack of a proper dinner or breakfast, it was time for some nutrition once in the park proper. 1849 Buffet at The Ranch at Death Valley was surprisingly not busy and reasonably priced, although the food was best described as only useful at preventing scurvy. At least it was fast and they had real bathrooms, which was a relief after the previous night.
Badwater Basin, lowest point in the continential United States, was the next stop. Parking wasn't quite as bad as feared, but crowds were definitely in evidence. Had to hike out a mile from the parking lot to escape the crowds. Next stop was Devils Golf Course, which felt both more and less impressive than the previous visit. More people, less isolation, but also the jagged salt formations were perhaps in better more dramatic shape? Spent more time here than the previous time as well, making it out a bit further as well as using the time to get much closer looks at the landscape.
Artist Drive and Artist Palette was pretty underwhelming, just as it was the previous time. Dantes View was the next stop, and a must-visit as it was closed on my previous trip to Death Valley. The cloudy sky wasn't the greatest, but if you want a view of the whole Death Valley, it is perhaps the place to come. Then turned back north for Zabriskie Point, which has perhaps the most colorful golden hues in the whole park, and the views at Zabriskie Point don't seem to care about the weather
By chance, Zabriskie Point was right before sunset. Spent 45 minutes down in the canyon, which ultimately connects to Golden Canyon Trail if you have time. As close to sunset as it was, we didn't want to wander around in the dark, and instead made it to the east end of Badlands Loop, took some pictures, then headed back to Zabriskie Point to take in the sunset.
Then it was time for the not quite five hour drive back to Los Angeles, and yet another evening subsisting on Girl Scout Cookies and Cheeze-Its til back in LA. Brothers Cousins taco stand had an unusually short line when we passed by, and while their tacos and burritos are way overhyped, they were still a vast improvement over junk food.