Day 17 - Vegas to Death Valley

Trip Start May 11, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 17

Luxury to Butlins – aka Las Vegas to Stovepipe Wells.

Bless them, they have done their best but Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley is no Vegas.

Up late again so crashed till 8:30, it's very quiet so hard to tell the time. Bit of a drama first thing as we discovered the Tioga Pass in Yosemite will not be open for Memorial Weekend, ie when we need it. All the northern passes are still closed and the alternative route through the north of the park is about 9 hours drive from Mammoth where we are staying. So re-planned the route to go south round the park and decided to do the sequoias earlier and the west coast pacific road from San Francisco to Los Angeles sometime next week. We changed a hotel booking and lost one as non refundable, the price paid for heavy snow this year. We left the room after a kerfuffle with the key which had auto locked us out at 11 and left our Luxury International Suite with our dusty cases and wal-mart carrier bags.

By the time we had done a postcard hunt, surprisingly hard in Vegas, we drove up and down the strip for some more pix. Tina takes so long trying to get a shot we create a traffic jam… Anyway we got a few more and headed west out of Las Vegas - Going to California (with an aching ... in my heart) for anyone that knows the reference!

I forgot to say yesterday, no wonder we suffered from that sub-prime lending disaster in the UK, uncle Dave bought a place for $28k which 6 months earlier had been $185k. His neighbour who had been foreclosed was allowed to stay rent free in his repossessed house and has been there for a year as it’s more cost effective for the bank to leave him in than have it empty. Huge chunks of new Vegas property is empty and the local hotels are doing mad deals (apparently) so maybe Vegas is a good place to travel to this year.

So off we headed, late again, to Death Valley. Doesn’t sound good. It got its name from a couple of wagon trains in the mid 1800’s who blundered in by mistake and died. Or some did. They were coming from Salt Lake City like we did except obviously it was a bit harder for them. The route out of Vegas was pretty simple, less manic in fact than Salt Lake City but it’s been windy all day (not Tina this time). We had planned to see a few things en route, Death Valley is the largest park in the lower 48 states apparently. The first 100 miles or so was a bit uninspiring with small highways and strange towns in the middle of no-where like Pahweeh (where we stopped for gas and more bug removal) The states change but the bugs are still not dodging.

We’d climbed to 5,000 feet out of Vegas and dropped gradually to less than sea level. Death Valley is the lowest point in the western something, hemisphere I think. As we got nearer the valley the landscape changed to weird rock formations and slat flats with sand dunes in the middle of no-where. Brendan and his party beat us to the first viewpoint. You drive for miles with no-one and round the corner 50 miles into the valley there’s a patch of tarmac, two coach parties, and a rest room… A little while later we headed off to Mustard Canyon. After a bit of off roading we were wondering where the mustard was, then strangely the rocks all turned mustard colour for a few hundred yards then stopped. I suppose it was obvious really as they seem to name things exactly as they are.

We stopped off at the also aptly named Furnace Creek but it was all pretty much shut. The 49’s cafe was closed. Its opening times were 4 to 9 which is where we thought it got its name. But we found out later that it was the wagon trains that left in 1849. Duh. Tina had lusted over some jalapeņo crisps a few days ago but not got them, she got a pack in the Furnace Creek General Store but unfortunately eating them turned out to be a bad plan as a chunk of her tooth broke off. Oops, need to find a dentist – but at the moment lucky to find a town let alone a dentist…

We got to Stovepipe Wells after another hour or so. There are no streets in Stovepipe Wells at all, it just sits on the highway. Not exactly the Hilton. King Size Deluxe takes on a different meaning in every town… We only had a little time so we headed to Mosaic Canyon which was mainly marble so maybe the naming theory went awry. There was a bit of mosaic according to Tina but I’m not so sure.. Tina has just told me Mosaic Canyon is a geological wonder but ithe book doesn't say why

Just off to dinner now, apparently there may be some wireless internet in the lounge….

Safe, sound and sandy

Mark & Tina


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daveandsue on

Like today's pics - looks as though it's warmed up a bit! Hope you find the dentist Tina! - that was rotten luck! When is de luxe not de that room I guess xxxxx

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