Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Death Valley

Boy - was it hot!! I arrived in the park around noon. About mid-90's - I can do that! However when I went into the visitor centre and chatted to a ranger I found out the hottest part of the day is around 4pm - and was expected to get to 106 degrees - Oh boy! Camped out in the park service campground in Furnace Creek area - no hookups so I found the closest thing to shade and flaked out. Went out for a sunset walk up a shaded canyon which was nice, although in places the heat did seem so, er, hot! Had trouble getting to sleep that night. At 11.30pm it was still 95 degrees.

Next morning got up before sunrise (gotta beat that heat somehow) Finally it was cool - bliss! Went to Zabriskie Point to take photos - quite the little party of early risers there - wicked colours of gullied land and Manly Point catching the early morning light, with views of the distant mountains. (I actually wore a cardigan this morning!!) Next stop was Badwater Basin. At 282 feet BELOW sea level it is the lowest point in the western hemisphere (apparently - doesn't an east/west divide of the 'hemisphere' rather depend on where you are at the time?) Some of the hottest temps ever have been recorded here - 134 degrees - meltdown!! Things were hotting up for me by now too....drove 25 miles up t'road to Stovepipe Wells - who had RV hookups - hoorah! Booked in late morning, plugged in the electric, shut the curtains and turned up the aircon high (nothing like 'expericing these wonderful national parks au naturel eh?!) And basically hid for the rest of the day. To be honest limited somewhat by a) where I can get to in the RV b) where I'm prepared to wander off to by myself c) the heat!

This morning got up early again to wander 2 miles out to the middle of the sand dunes - reaching up to 100 ft high - kinda cool - a good workout trudging across the dunes. Met an 'interesting' couple near the highest of the dunes. They'd been taking 'artistic nude' pictures of each other until I turned up - think I rather pissed on their parade!! They did ask me to take some photos of them - thankfully with their clothes on (though they did debate whether or not to?!?!!?!?!?!)

Had the time of my life (NOT) driving out of Death Valley. Sea Level to 5000 ft in about 18 miles - so the engine hovered dangerously close to the overheating point. Then having gone uphill I enevitably had to come back down again - so then the brakes started overheating - great. Much of todays driving followed much the same vein... Lots of stopping in lay-bys chilling out waiting for either the brakes or the engine to cool down...

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