Driving in Death Valley

Driving in Death Valley

So it’s my first day behind the wheel, I can’t help but be excited about the prospect of really driving in America. That morning we had woken up in the beautiful Yosemite National Park, after packing away the tent, and reclaiming all of our belongings from the bear proof lock box, we were set to go. Well we got as far as the grocery store, we’d planned to buy food, but it was so expensive so gave that up as a bad idea and just stocked up on water for the journey we had ahead of us. I drove through the valley of Yosemite, then climbing the hillside and eventually heading east along the highway, through to the other side of Yosemite. The journey from the valley to the east exit of the park seemed to take forever, we stopped several times for photos, and one was a great opportunity of standing on a rock, looking over the amazing scenery. Myself and my boyfriend didn’t miss the chance to get some really cute couple photos on top of the rock. The last part of that road was windy and to either side of us were high mountains with what looked like snow covering the tops of them, beautiful. We hit the highway, and it’s a few hours of straight boring driving before we see the sign for death valley, turning off the highway we immediately see the difference in roads, and scenery. It’s suddenly becoming desert land, with flat ground all around the road and then to both sides rising hills and mountains, it’s beautiful, it’s like the magazines, it’s a road like many of the trek America photos seem to be taken.  There are several photos opportunities as we drive along this road and eventually in to Death Valley, stopping on the side of the road, as we get out we realise the ground is all sandy, there’s lizards crawling around, and very few bushes or plants. Walking in to the middle of the road there is nothing coming either way for the whole way you can see, and let me tell you that’s a long way! Getting those arty shots from a low vantage point of the road leading in to the distance, we jump back in the car and carry on the drive. It’s way past the warmest point of the day now, but the more we drive in to death valley the more the temperature gage rises, 100, 105, 113, 117, 120, 121, 122 & then suddenly it peaks to 123 degrees, for a long while it sticks at that temperature, then as we start to head nearer to the east side of the park, it starts to drop a little but never below 110 degrees. The whole idea of this heat is crazy when you think about the time of the day, we decide through the whole journey we will not use the air-conditioning, so with the windows all down, the air rushes in but we just end up feeling as if a hair dryer is being blown in and around the car, we are all dripping in sweat. As the road twists down in to the park, you see these signs along the way saying how many thousand feet elevation you are at, the numbers quickly start to decline and not too far after you enter the park at the paying station there is a sign that says ‘sea level’. I quickly pull a u-turn and pull in to the car park just before, we get some nice group shots and we are off again, having thought that was the best part. Little did we know that an hour later along the road there would be a sign saying ‘100ft below sea level’ pulling over to take more photos, the ground below our feet has turned to hard dark grey stones, this is the lowest point in the USA. Along the road before hitting that spot, we drive down this track to the salt creek, not being able to go any faster than 20mph we realise maybe it isn’t such a big thing, as we turn in there’s no one else there and very little to see, so we head back to the main road and drive on further. Shortly after, just as the sun is setting we come across this little mining scene set up just off the side of the road, we walk around reading the signs. I know very little about the history of America, but these signs show old drawings of how there used to be a settlement here, the men used to mine in the lands using 21 muels to pull this massive 3 piece cart, I cannot even imagine spending a whole day in this heat let alone live in it. As the sun sets I run up on to this hill to get a few snaps of it across the valley.  As we get nearer to death valley junction, the road starts to climb and the elevation signs, go back up in thousands, that’s it death valley over, but not long after turning on to the highway at death valley junction and we hit a new state, Nevada. My first day of driving comes to an end when we turn in to Indian Springs and find a motel, but wow, what a first day of driving. Over 400 miles, over 8 hours of driving and over 120 degrees I can honestly say I have never experienced anything like it, the long, long roads that you can see cutting through the landscape in front of you, never seeming to end, being 100ft below sea level, driving through a desert and crossing a state line. The best day of the road trip so far.

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