No bird, nor insect, nor reptile take up residence here, a place where water is too scarce and the sun is far too hot. The sand is baked so ruthlessly that it forms a crust shield impenetrable to a farmer’s plow or rare flash flood. By early morning, shoes are a necessity. The smell of foolish tourists’ burnt toes and rubber soles drifts through the air. Dust devils chase passing cars across the desert only to dissolve on contact.
Furnace Creek resembles a ghost town, in a climate too dry even for the tumbleweed. Water evaporates before it hits the ground. Misters work tirelessly to no avail. The unforgiving sun drops from its throne in the midday sky and sinks below the distant horizon as darkness wins the battle of celestial knights. Twilight shadows engulf the last light, though they fail to bring along relief from the ever present heat. It is an alien world where shade has long been extinct; wind becomes the music, the conversations, and the traffic of an invisible city swallowed by the sand.
Indoors silence is the soundtrack of the desert. Without the methodic hum of electronics and internet servers, the hotel rooms are unusually still. Light from the region’s palette of stars shines in through the windows. The sun employed these brothers as sentries to guard this realm the moon has stolen. Their light illuminates a trail of pockets in the earth that stretch across the plain, perfect for an 18-hole round on the devil’s golf course.
Ancient ocean salt from blistered clefts, dust and dirt from the sky, and windblown sand from the east form towering crust peaks that cradle the village. Mosaic rock embeds itself in the walls like a massive mural painted in a fit of artistic fervor. Vibrant and bizarre, the canvas casts an eerie glow along the barren dunes; it cautions daring tourists, reminding them that the valley is not to be trusted. Wary of visitors and quick to strike, the lowest point in North America deserves the epithet Valley of Death.
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