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Thursday, July 05: Yosemite to Death Valley

Saturday, July 07: Las Vegas to Grand Canyon

Friday, July 06: Death Valley to Las Vegas

So this is what an oven feels like

This morning we wanted to get out as early as possible, to avoid the heat as much as possible. On the other hand, we wanted Mike to get enough sleep, as we got to bed fairly late the previous night.

So Amy got up and went out while I slept in with Mike. He eventually woke up, so we got up and got dressed. Then we went out to look for Amy and found her just coming back.

We skipped breakfast in the interest of time, and since we’ve been eating a lot lately and were not too hungry. We just got cameras and stuff, jumped in the car, and then headed down to the salt flats (the lowest point in the US). It is strange to think that we were doing this so early in the morning to avoid the heat. It was a relatively cool 101 degrees!

Salt Flats
Salt Flats

I tasted the salt and not surprisingly it was salty. We then drove back, visiting various points of interest along the way (e.g. the Devil’s Golf Course, Artist’s Drive). Unfortunately, the best time to be doing that drive would be late in the day with the evening sun, but we saw what we could.

Salt Crystals at Devil’s Golf Course
View from Artist’s Drive

Halfway back, I realized that the light/color coming off of the rocks was polarized, so that the setting of my polarizing filter could dramatically the color in the image.

We had thought about checking out the pool this morning, but we got back around 11:45 and check-out was at noon, so we just had enough time to pack up things.

Now that it was hot, we had lunch (a rather over-priced buffet, but there weren’t many alternatives and we hadn’t had breakfast), and visited the Borax Museum. Wandering through the outdoor displays was a bit abbreviated, as the temperature as measured by the thermometer at the entrance to the ranch read about 118. It felt like we were in an oven.

Locomotive on Display

We drove out of the park, stopping at two overlooks. At Dante’s View, basically on top of one of the ringing mountains, we were around 5,000-6,000 feet, which gave us a good view, but which also was a very balmy 91 degrees.

View towards north from Dante’s View

Then we drove on the Las Vegas. We got in around 8pm. We found that our hotel was not out in Henderson as we thought, but it was the downtown convention center--a big high-rise. It was rather strange. The first floor was registration and a breakfast area (breakfast was included). Floors 2-7 were a parking garage. Then there were rooms on 8-24 (with a pool on the roof on 24). Unfortunately, to get from the garage to your room, you had to take an elevator from the garage to the 1st floor, and then take a different elevator from there to your room floor.

The room was fairly large and ritzy. There were two beds, two “bath rooms”, one with the toilet and one with a shower (both with sinks). There was a “living room/office” area, with a chair and desk, and a couch and coffee table. There was a fridge and a microwave.

All in all, it was the fanciest room we’ve been in yet. I was worried that we screwed up and that this night was going to cost a fortune, but it was only $100 and it included a hot breakfast; which made it about the cheapest place we’ve been in.

We found an REI in Las Vegas, drove over there, and got some Tevas for Mike and some more socks and things. We caught dinner there at a Cheese Cake Factory. They had a low-cal menu, which I thought was perfect for me. It was cheaper, and I didn’t want to eat that much anyways.

Unfortunately, I screwed up in a way that is hard to imagine. So far on this trip, I’ve been religious about using sun screen. For some inexplicable reason, on my first day in the desert, in Death Valley no less, I neglected to use sun screen. I was thinking in the back of my mind (as much as I wasn’t really thinking at all), that we would spend most of the time in the car with only brief forays outside, so I didn’t really need sun screen. As a result, I got slightly toasted on my face and neck.

Now to leave civilization again, and drive to the Indian Reservation on the south rim.

It is strange to be wondering which side of 100 the temperate will be, and/or wondering how far above 100 it will be right now.

I’m also feeling a bit rushed right now. If we stop for a single night at a park as just a way of breaking up a long drive, then a single night is fine. But trying to see as much of the park as we can and drive to the next location is really trying to cram too much into each day. We should either plan to spend two nights as a park, or to really see not much of the park at all.

Up to West Trip 2012 main page

Thursday, July 05: Yosemite to Death Valley

Saturday, July 07: Las Vegas to Grand Canyon