This ‘n That…………………..Furnace Creek, Death Valley

Yesterday was a great day for flying. Geoff and I hopped (well, more like clambered) into the Cessna Skyhawk and flew from Inyokern, California, to Furnace Creek in the Death Valley Nat’l Monument. The runway at Furnace Creek is 210 feet below sea level. It is an interesting experience watching the altimeter wind backwards past zero. I only caught a brief glimpse since most of my attention was on the airspeed indicator and the runway in front of the airplane.

The plan was to have lunch at the Furnace Creek Inn Resort and fly back home, all in one day. The plan was successful, albeit with one adventure. The airport is a few miles from the Inn. The land-line telephone to call the Inn for a ride was out of order and both our cell phones registered “no service” and the pay-phone wouldn’t accept the $20 bill I had.

It was only a one-mile hike up the road to the Death Valley Visitor’s Center. The sky was clear, hardly a breeze, and we found out later the temperature was right around 70 degrees. Even I can walk a mile. The next fun came when it turned out the museum at the visitor center prices everything to round out to even dollars. Yep, still no change for the pay phone. I won’t reveal the name of the park ranger who did the deed, but he or she used the official government telephone to call the Inn for me. Just five minutes later we were traveling down, or up, the road for lunch.

Note: The park entrance fee for landing at Furnace Creek is $20. My Golden Eagle Passport let us both in for free.

The Inn at Furnace Creek deserves it’s resort classification. The food is excellent. The service was a little slow, but Wednesday is an off day and maybe they hadn’t staffed up. I’d guess maybe ten people shared the dining room. My chicken salad sandwich ‘en croissant’ was delicious. The french fries beat Burger King and McD by 300 percent. And as expected, the meal was pricy.

The view from the dining room to the west overlooks the north end of Bad Water Basin with the mountains in the distance. If you have time to lounge around, the comfy chairs on the porch would be a great place to do just that. Especially witha  cold beverage and good book. We however had a return trip to make so we took the next van back to the airport.

Flying either direction, west or east, requires threading through a narrow corridor between two restricted areas — the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake and the Goldstone Radio Telescope area operated by NASA. Sometimes (if you know the secret word) the air traffic controllers at China Lake will let you pass through their area. The corridor takes you along the west side of Searles Lake, famous for its production of borax, and over the Trona airport. I leave it to you to Google up the myriad uses for borax other than cleaning laundry.

Only one small area of the flight jiggled the airplane enough to be called light turbulence. Our flight was being followed by the air traffic controllers down at Edwards AFB and it was interesting listening to them calling all the military aircraft tooling around the ranges. We were flying at 6,500 feet and the jets were all up around 15 to 17 thousand so we couldn’t even catch a glimpse of them.

All it all, it was a good flight and a fun day.

…….the GOG