Trip Start Jul 29, 2009
Trip End Aug 19, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, August 9, 2009

Decided to make an early start of it today as we had 352 miles to drive through Death Valley and then onto the mountains.

Left Las Vegas to carry on with it's madness and after quick breakfast stop and petrol & money (they say be prepared in the desert!!) we were on our way.  Incredibly hot even at 9am in the morning. 

Our drive took us through places called Pahrump and Shoshone where some of the populations are just 50 people.  Crazy to live in a place like that but people do.  After about 150 miles we got into Death Valley National Park.  The scenery is stunning and the pictures will hopefully do it justice; we have also taken some video.  We did a couple of stops at some points of interest along the way and just getting out of the car was so hot it was incredible.  Big point on the trip through was getting to below sea level.  When you reach sea level it is quite something after having come from about 3500 ft but then we travelled to a place called Bad Water which is -295 ft below sea level.  You look up to the mountains and there is a placard to show where sea level is and you are way beneath it. There is a board walk there and you walk out into the flats.  This is mostly made up of salt and people have dug beneath and you can see pools of strongly salty water there.  It is incredible - we only managed a quick 15 min stop and then back on our way with the aircon up to full.

Next stop is the visitors centre and Emma got her Death Vally Junior Ranger badge there which was good.  She had to do some quizzes and talk to the park rangers.  We also paid the $20 fee to travel through the park,.  We carried on from there did a stop at a Borax mine (old one) which is what they used to mine in the late 19th century.  Worth looking up the story of why it's called death valley on

We then carried on driving; me in the drivers seat for a change and did our ascent into the mountains which was scary especially with me driving.  We went up over 3500 feet and then had to change over again to let Paul take over the reigns.  The views were stunning.  The more north we went the greener it got and the backdrop was of the Sierra Nevada.  The mountains are massive and we saw Mount Whitney which is the highest point of the 48 contiguous states coming in at 14,494 ft.  We passed the site of Manzanar internment camp where over 10,000 Japanese Americans they no longer trusted after pearl harbour were "relocated" but didn't go into this as it would have taken a bit too long.  You could see snow on thecaps of some mountains the further we travelled.

We arrived in Mammouth Lakes resort - mainly a winter resort where people come to ski but it is beautiful all the same. Had a good dinner at a restaurant called Angels - very authentic Ski type hostelry. Temperature change is about -60 degrees compared to Death Valley.

Looking forward to the Yosemite National Park tomorrow and the views and scenery it has to offer (and a much shorter drive)

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