Thru Death Valley to Yosemite National Park

Trip Start May 01, 2008
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
The Only Campground we could find with spaces

Flag of United States  , California
Friday, July 11, 2008

The Eagle has heavily worn the rear tyres for some reason, its covered 6000 miles but it was down to the wear markers on the new tyres we had put on before leaving, the front 2 tyres are fine so we stopped into a tyre shop in Overton for a rotation. The tyre guy said he did not think there was a problem except they were cheap...... lets hope they hold out for the rest of the trip.  
We were heading across the desert of Nevada and the temperature was holding steady at around 115F, the shortest route to Yosemite National Park was directly across Death Valley, a road that went from 2000ft (700m)to 5000ft (1800m) then to below sea level and back up over another 5000ft (1800) pass. We have roadside assistance now, Brent finally agreed we might need it a few days before when we realized the tyres had worn down, and we knew we would not come back this way to see Death Valley again so we turned off the main road and headed in.............

The first pass was hardly any trouble for the Beast, the cooling systems were holding things in check (he has 3 cooling systems, engine, transmission and our AC) as we plunged into the valley.... which was awe inspiring... The brakes were getting a little soft by the time we leveled out and the temperature had reached 125F, all that was in front of us was a huge mountain range...... so the climb began..... and it really was a climb, the Beast was really pulling hard, it was so steep that we were managing to hold 20mph in first gear with the gas pedal mashed to the floor (a first in all the mountains we have covered) and drinking fuel at an alarming 2mpg!!  Toby began to panic after a quick calculation meant we did not have enough fuel to reach the top.......  deja vu..... as the minutes ticked by the beast was still working harder than ever and getting really hot all the temp gauges were heading for the red........ This was not good..... Toby was really getting stressed now as there was no airflow to cool the engine at 20mph and the Beast could not gain any speed...... we kept slowing down and the gauges kept getting nearer the red as we climbed and climbed......... we crawled our way across the summit before Toby had a heart attack and pulled off to let the Beast cool..... the views were out weighed by the sense of achievement, as the Beast cooled down a little (still over 120F) Toby needed to calm down before we dropped into the greenery of the Sierra Nevada Valley. We are so proud of the Beast for doing one of the most treacherous roads in America while pulling the 8000lbs Eagle, it took us 2 hours to cross Death Valley and we will never do it again!

The Sierra Nevada Mountains are like a different world, in the space of a few miles the landscape changes to Trees, greenery and huge granite mountains reaching 14,000ft (4700m). Brent started calling campgrounds as soon as we knew we had made it thru Death Valley and the phone picked up reception. He was really having a hard time as we neared Yosemite but eventually found us a nice spot in June Lake. The campground was having a free ice cream hour so that sealed the deal! While we were setting up camp we noticed that heat in death valley had cracked one of the wheel arches on the Eagle AND it had got so hot inside the fridge and freezer had defrosted even though they had been left on!!

Brent's parents where hoping to fly out in a couple of days to meet us so only had one clear day in Yosemite National Park. We were up bright and early for the drive and the sights http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosemite_National_Park
We spent all day driving around and took a few short hikes, Yosemite is beautiful, words can not do it justice.... Brent has fallen in love with the place and decided he wants to be a park ranger now, not a helicopter pilot at the grand canyon! The giant sequoia trees are huge, there is one dead stump in the park that has been cut so vehicles could drive thru, this was done in the late 1800's so now you can only walk thru.

We were unable to stay longer as Brent's parents called early in the morning to say they had managed to get the flights and were on their way to Reno, about 150 miles north of us. We plan to visit again in the future but right now we are off to Lake Tahoe and Reno!!
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