Sure it's hot-but its a dry heat.

Trip Start Aug 06, 2009
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Trip End Sep 03, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yosemite National Park to Death Valley to Lake Mead

I’m up, packed and on the road by 6 am.   Not because I couldn’t sleep wondering where the bear would strike next but mainly due to the fact that I will be going through Death Valley on the way to Lake Mead. The earlier I can get through the cooler it will be.
 
I head out west for a short distance then I go south, it takes a little longer to get there than I planned.  Before I can travel through the park I need to pay the fee, as I walk up a big dial thermometer is hanging outside the door , it reads 106-IN THE SHADE!  The ranger explains that on the floor its hotter because the mountains keep in the already heated air, as you climb upwards it will get cooler,  just make sure that the air is turned off in the car to prevent overheating.  They also give you some extra literature, my favorite, “Heat Kills, Don’t become a Death Valley victim”.

As I cross into the Stovepipe Wells area I can see the Eureka Sand Dunes.  These dunes are a host to Kangaroo rats as well as Sidewinder rattlesnakes and I’m sure the dunes texture are better accentuated with late afternoon sun but must keep moving.
Death Valley was known for the gold that was taken from it’s mines and the climb into the mountains I pass abandoned roads that led up to these excavations.  As the air heats up I can sense that my engine is having a little trouble with these steep grades, sure enough the temperature gauge start to climb up to the high range.  I pull over and pop the hood.  A check shows the coolant level to be a little low but I’m more concerned with the transmission fluid that is slowly dripping onto the suspension, probably something shook loose back at Yosemite. I add some coolant while the engine settles down then get back in to continue the journey.  I start to go up another steep hill and the gauge starts read hot, then I remember that if you run the heater it can help the engine throw off the excess heat.  I know what your thinking, 110 degrees outside, probably the same on the inside, here’s a recipe for heatstroke and you wouldn’t be far from the truth.  In fact my I-phone is starting to act a little squirrelly, refusing too charge and all it’s programs area sluggish. 

I manage to get through the rest of Death Valley, stopping less and taking more pictures while driving, my version of a drive by shooting.  Each time I stop for gas I make sure to fill up on Gatorade or water but I can keep it coming fast enough and soon I start to overheat, fortunately I am getting closer to Las Vegas and Lake Mead.

I make it to Lake Mead and I am bone dry, I don’t even consider setting up the tent.  One of the first things I do upon reaching the campsite is break out my bike, change into my suit and head towards the lake.  The lake is the best thing to happen to me on this part of the trip and after diving in I just float for what seems like an eternity.  As my body cools down, coherent thoughts start to form, telling me to just go back and take the rest of the evening off.  I blow off shooting the park, missing a wonderful sundown on the walls of the canyon but it’s more important to be ready for tomorrow.

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Where I stayed
Boulder Beach

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