Day 18 - Death Valley to Sequoia
Trip Start May 11, 2010
70Trip End Jul 23, 2010
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Death Valley to Three Rivers
Late last night after a very slow upload, we were on the way back to the room and the moon was spectacular – the amateur photography was not so good but we try. Sometime yesterday we also crossed into California but in was so desolate they didn't even bother with a state line 'welcome’ sign.
Surprisingly a good sleep despite the heat and the ‘comfort’ but as the sun started to rise Phil Collins and Cozy Powell started on the roof whacking their snare drums. I’m not sure a metal roof is such a good idea in the excessive sun unless you want a 6am wake-up from the sound of the metal expanding. It was a blessing in disguise I suppose, we were up and out the earliest ever – Tina was almost running to leave!
Anyway, we were on the road by 9am. Met a couple from the UK who were on the way to Vegas and recommended a hotel in Santa Barbara which was good. We’d changed ‘British – Jill’ for ‘American – Lee’ on the GPS but he drove us mad after half hour so we swapped back to Jill. She informed us it was 91 miles as the crow flies and 287 by road, great. 5 hours 45 mins so we knew it was going to be a long day. The Yosemite northern roads are still closed so it is the right decision, just this one extra long drive.
Leaving Death Valley you can see how hard it is. We definitely seemed to be on the road to no-where. The drives are long and very hot over multiple mountain passes. We drove up from 200 feet below sea level to 5,000 feet, back down to 1,000 feet then back up to 6,000 several times. One section which went on for 20+ miles just said ‘dips’. We decided it was more like a roller coaster, Meg would have had me drive at 10 mph the whole way! In between two passes was another stretch of salt pan/desert where we stopped for a bit
We discovered the satellite radio yesterday (Sirius) which at least works. We had the Elvis channel yesterday for about 4 hours so we switched about a bit today. We switched to enLighten for a bit but after a few gospellised country tunes and a bit of fire & brimstone we moved on to the Doctor Radio channel which helped us up the first stretch of Death Valley with Dr Ira the GI tract specialist (who has his own show at 8pm Pacific Time on Mondays – catch it on Sirius). They finished at 10am so we had a bit of the 70s channel then the 80s before we resorted to our own tunes. The in car player has an auxiliary plug for the iPod. Very easy. Also has a USB port so I charge the camera as I go now.
Out of Death Valley we hit a few highways for a long stretch but winding back on ourselves several times. Tina snapped me again cleaning windows, she seems to find this amusing - we have new habits already, I stop for gas and clean the windows, Tina snaps me and laughs! We break up the journey with a handful of trail mix, a drink of water and sometimes even a rhubarb and custard no-point boiled sweet
After the highways we started up the Sierras (eastern ones I think) into Sequoia National Park. After a long uphill drive, climbing from 1,000 to 7,000 feet this time we stopped off at a grouping of giant Sequoias 1,000 – 1,500 years old. They only grow in a narrow stretch of these Sierras, nowhere else. They are not called giant for nothing. It’s hard to describe but as you can see we are dwarfed by them. We took a nice, but cold stroll around the 100 massive trees sitting side by side with ‘baby’ 300 year old pines and we hit the road again. We started passing through some really lush valleys and followed a river for a while coming across another lake made by a dam and some very nice looking places. A change from the tired and barren ones we’ve seen so far. After another hour or so we came across the only place we’ve seen for miles to eat and had a good late lunch. Still 2 hours to go, Jill was wrong by nearly an hour… maybe Lee would have been better, after all he is American. Later Jill did get confused a lot on the long and winding road, kept telling us to u-turn and then recalculated. She never admits to a mistake though.
The next hour was spent downhill. About 25 miles of bend after bend. In fact no straight bit for more than maybe 50 metres so about 500 bends descending another 6,000 feet. We had to stop for a bit near the bottom so Tina could make sure she held onto her lunch, even I felt a shade green. I helped with her pedicure while we waited for our heads to clear a bit. Another hour or so later we came to the 3 rivers place which is a little better than yesterday, arriving about 5pm so a long drive.
We decided enough was enough. We got some cold bits for tea, put some washing on and checked out Yosemite. We decide we don’t need snow chains but it’s not easy to work out and there is a $5,000 fine if you don’t have them when needed. We have the right tyres and a 4wd which seems to be enough. We decided the route for tomorrow, about 3.5 hours as direct as possible. It looks nice at the next place, fantastic reviews.
Safe, sound & sticking eyes open with matches
Mark & Tina