Day 32: Just a wee bit warm...

Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 29, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, July 2, 2010

Route: From Las Vegas, NV to Lee Vining, California (CA)
Kilometres: 624

So enjoying the air conditioning as long as possible, we grabbed brunch at the hotel and caught the last of the World Cup game amongst the serious gamblers of South Point. After a petrol fill, last check on the water and oil, plus stocking up on water and Gatorade, we hit the road again and made our way even further into the desert towards Death Valley National Park! And don't let the name fool you with images of lush landscapes of rolling green hills...

We drove into the park and slowly watched the temperature gauge in the car reach 45C – and it definitely felt that with our first jump out of the car! Thinking about the car, and heeding warning we’ve heard before, we turned off the air conditioning, rolled down the windows, and bore the heat....basically feels like you’re sitting in an oven with a heat fan blowing straight at you. Crazily enough, it was more bearable with the windows rolled up most of the way! Guess it just took away the one crazy heat wind factor. Our first viewpoint took us up a small hill (crazy, we know) for a neat overlook into the start of the valley and its many different layers. Then we kept driving into the valley to the Visitor Centre and picked up a map – then decided to drive on a small detour into the valley and finding Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation point in the northern hemisphere. This place in the valley is 282ft/855m below sea level, and very much resembles salt flats you may have seen in movies (think World’s Fastest Indian if you’ve seen it). We decided to be sun smart and covered up before heading out into this basin, however bizarre it felt to be putting more clothes on! Alas, it did help slightly, and it was quite the trek to this cool (looking) vantage point. Got some neat pics and slowly headed back to the car, gulping back heaps of water and Gatorade, and this time driving out with the A/C on! It was pretty flat driving out, we kept an eye on the car gauges.

Only made a few more quick stops in Death Valley – one to check out the sand dunes, and to pick up some more petrol & kai, then made our way out of the park. We definitely had to turn the A/C off for the drive out, as the winding road rose us to over 8000ft! Can definitely see how some cars just don’t make it. Once out of the park we came out next to the Sierra Nevada mountains, which was a fantastic drive as the sun was setting behind the mountains. At dusk we were nearing our destination and climbing through the mountains again, and it was suddenly mad with moths barrelling at us as we drove! It was so loud, and in ridiculous size and numbers, we’ve never seen anything so absurd – and the evidence was all over the car once we stopped! Made it to Lee Vining, gateway to Yosemite and cute town, and checked into our neat room at the El Mono Motel.
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