“But – it’s a dry heat”, was actually quite accurate, as daytime temps in Death Valley National Park rocketed to about 113 degrees. I enjoyed a hefty Bloody Mary on the terrace overlooking the greens at the oasis-like Furnace Creek Golf Course. This 18-hole course, at 214 feet below sea level, is the lowest elevation course in the world. Players must contend with the tug of slightly stronger gravity during their game, due to the unusual barometric pressure. Is that one of the reasons Golf Digest recognizes Furnace Creek as one of “America’s 50 Toughest Courses?
Awesome, stark beauty of the rugged, barren terrain draws photographers and artists to sites like Artists’ Palette, the Salt Flats, and Big Dune by the thousands. At the Harmony Borax Works, wagons from the famous 20 mule team-era of getting the white mineral to market stand like silent sentinels, braced against the relentless desert wind.
Most of Death Valley’s eastern border is the Nevada state line. From my mercifully air conditioned accommodations, I could see forbidding mountains. Beyond them lie the Nevada Test Site, home of early nuclear tests, and the super-secret Area 51 at Groom Lake. Barely acknowledged by the government, the entire area emits its own aura, mystique, and lore. I think my single malt Scotch nightcaps created their own aura as I settled in for major league dreams.