From Las Vegas our trip should continue north west towards San Francisco and Portland and Seattle. On our way were two National Parks we wanted to visit. The first one was Death Valley and the second Yosemite National Park. We planned to drive through Death Valley to spend the night in the other national park, but things went different and we spent the night in the desert inside Death Valley.
Death Valley wasn’t so far from Las Vegas and after four hours we reached it. Before we entered it we passed a gas station with incredible five dollars for a gallon, that had a sign, telling us, it was the last one before we would enter this desert. We still had enough gas to cross whole Death Valley and so we moved on.
When we entered Death Valley we stopped by the first information point, where we got a map and where we had to pay $20 for the entrance fee. We didn’t expect so much and it would have been a waste of money if we wouldn’t stay at least one night there … and so our plans changed again a little bit.
First we got to the Information Center to get more information about this national park. Next to some souvenirs there was a room where they showed a documentary about Death Valley and what you can expect from it. The temperature was quite nice inside there. The outside temperature has been at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. They even offered wireless there so that I finally could send some email to friends I wanted to visit within the next days. Normally when you are in a national park it’s difficult to find an internet connection and your mobile phone won’t get any reception at all. At least pay phones are offered which can be a bit expensive without a calling card.
After we got our information we went on south to the Bad Water Basin, which is the lowest point in Death Valley and consists of a vast flat salt surface. We walked along the always changing surface of this salt lake which was nice, but not that impressive and so we returned to our car to drive along the¬†”Artists route”¬†route. You drive along a beautiful one-way road, passing funny natural-painted mountains where you felt the urge to stop every now and then to take a picture.
Afterwards we visited the “Golden Valley” which was closeby. Once a road went along that valley but many years ago it had been destroyed by an … We walked along that valley at the perfect and recommended time … at sunset. The valley leads to the “Red Chapel” and when we arrived there we knew why it was named after it. A big red rock, standing monotonously at the horizon. A few minutes later it lost its red color and the sun its strength. So we went back and drove to the place where we would set up our tent for that night.
In our car we had a bottle of white wine, which wasn’t very cold due to the heat of that day. What would be better that ice in a desert? We passed such a place, where you put two dollars into a machine and you get a bag of ice. This little comfort actually felt really good We passed signs telling us that there wasn’t any gas station the next 72 miles, which increased the feeling of being in a desert.
After more than half an hour we finally reached our camp site while it already became dark. With the light from the deadlights of our car we set up our tent. However we weren’t able to put the stakes into the soil since it was too hard. Instead we put some heavy stones into the corners as a support. After a small dinner consisting of bread and cold white wine, we went to bed.
The wind was not very strong, but strong enough to let our tent flatter around. Since it wasn’t connected to the ground it was instable. We weren’t afraid that it would fall onto our heads, but it was impossible to sleep due to the noise the walls of the tents created. We tried to improve the tent but finally retreated in our car, where it was calm and less cold. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep there either, because in buses and airplanes I normally cannot sleep too, but I slept … I slept before the sun arose.
With Claire sleeping and the tent left behind I drove to a nearby sand dune. Death Valley has a lot of different surroundings to offer, and on my list was to have breakfast on a sand dune in the middle of a desert. It was just a small region of sand dunes but it gave you a good impression. We parked our car next to the street and walked towards the sand dunes. On our way we found many traces of animals all over the typical formed sand. The sun began to rise and threw a beautiful warm light with large shadows on the world. We sat down on one of the sand dunes and ate our breakfast which was bread with nutella mainly. It was delicious!
From afar we saw other people also enjoying the beginning of the day in the desert. We stayed there for a while and headed back to our car … it was time to leave the desert to move on to the next national park, called Yosemite. Before we left Death Valley we stopped at a restaurant where we had a really good (and expensive) juice and even a shower. For three dollars we got the permit to take a shower on the nearby camp site. We stayed there around two hours and enjoyed the wireless internet connection, which allowed us to check and write emails and uploading photos.
The day had just begun and what we saw at the end of the day we wouldn’t have expected at all. But this is another story … see you!