At the beginning of this trip I didn’t realize how much I would actually enjoy road tripping around California. I didn’t take into account that if you saw something interesting you could always pull off the road and have a look, that you would be able to stop take pictures and do things you didn’t plan on. Exploring with no agenda and no timeline is very relaxing and I believe it makes the overall experience more rewarding and worthwhile.
Patrick and I stayed the night in Bishop, California, but we almost always got up early to hit the road again excited to see what adventures the day would bring. On this day we were going to be driving from Bishop, California through Death Valley and stay the night in Las Vegas, NV. The morning was a bit a chilly when we started driving so we decided to keep the top up on the mustang. I was excited to watch the scenery change from bushes and grass to the desert of Death Valley. Unlike Yosmite (Patrick drove by to fast so we missed it), we stopped at the park sign for a photo!
Driving into Death Valley was similar to Yosemite (mountains, windy roads, magnificent views) the only difference was it was all rock, sand and desert plants. Our first few stops were Rainbow Canyon, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and the Harmony Borax Works. After getting in the heard of Death Valley we really started to feel the heat. The temp was 99 degrees Fahrenheit at the Borax works.
The high temperatures also made it very hazy and hard to see the mountains (or anything for that matter) in the distance. It was unsettling because you realized how easy it would be to get lost in the haze if you weren’t paying attention.
The big attraction I wanted to see was Badwater Basin. Badwater Basin is an endorheic basin, noted as the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 ft below sea level. The basin itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of “bad water” next to the road in a an endorheic sink; the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. At this point the outside temp had risen to 103 degrees Fahrenheit! However, we still decided to make the long walk out on the salt flat. Note: all that grey/brown crusty stuff that looks like old dirty snow is actually salt!
Only water in the whole place!
Salt flats as far as the eye can see!
The next place we stopped was Zabriskie Point aka the badlands!
Death Valley had some amazing things to see, but overall it was just way to hot out to go for a hike and the absence of civilization of any kind made me start to feel depressed. Overly nervous about whether or not the car would overheat in the weather and where we would find the next gas station (even though we still had half a tank) I pushed Patrick to keep driving so that we would get to Las Vegas around 3pm. We made it to Las Vegas without any problems, checked into our hotel, and went in search of food! (we forgot to bring any type of food with us in Death Valley, probably a big no no when travelling in the desert).
Exhausted from exploring Death Valley all day I only managed to take one photo in Las Vegas. We had to get up early for our flight the next day headed to the east coast! Charleston here we come!