It’s been a while – Sas explained why – so we are now in a warmer and significantly quieter place – Death Valley, CA.
The ups and the downs (literally and figuratively) of driving through such a diverse landscape are fading in to a warmer glow of memory, the nights of freezing head and warm body fade also as the desert temperatures reassure us of some of the reasons we set out with – as an aside it is amazing what being 6 weeks later than planned has done to all sorts of the parts of the plan, from closed attractions to temperatures and seasonal sights – and here now it has finally come time to write of more wonders of the world as viewed from Hanna Hymer.
So what did I expect from such a grand title as Death Valley? Hollywood images, half remembered pictures, stories and books all form together to provide my vivid imagination with a lot of pre-conceived ideas and cartoon pictures – none of which prepared me for the vistas to come.
So the first thing that anyone driving into this landscape cannot fail to notice is the literal other-world geology and landscape so different from where we left in the morning and still in California too.
That morning we left the California coast at 7am and drove our final bit of the California route 1 along the stunning coastline called the Big Sur. A place of breath-taking views of coastline, cliffs and waves. Via an Elephant Seal breeding beach …
… then a left turn across to Bakersfield and beyond. This was the day that the dash cam failed us for the first time and that it wasn’t shooting the view from the windscreen as we drove has to be one of the biggest technical disappointments so far.
But after 10 hours of driving from coast to desert and as the dusk settled, we still had another 50 miles to go (to get to our chosen RV site – Furnace Creek Inn Resort) we decided to push on and with the previous experiences of thinking we could drive x amount of miles in x amount of time we knew that 50 miles could easily be 2 hours or an hour or anything in-between. So on we went and then we hit the ‘hill’ – that was a drive for 45 minutes up at 17mph hoping that our still un-fixed gearbox could take the strain. Switchback after switchback – chugging away watching the temperature gauge and thinking walking might have been faster!
Then finally down, oh yes down and down with elevation signs at the roadside counting down from 4000ft, 3000ft, 2000ft, 1000ft and all with switchbacks and blind corners; so that finally when we saw the first sign which said ‘Sea Level’ we thought we had arrived.
But still down … and then up … past another sign saying Sea Level – below sea level?. Onward in to the dark dark night … Furnace Creek Inn appeared (as do all things come to those that wait) and we checked in and parked and ate, slept and woke to … that landscape.
So we took Hanna out for some sight-seeing – Badwater Basin and Salt Flats first on the list – we parked Hanna under a cliff with a sign saying ‘Sea Level’ – this was pinned to the sheer rising face of the rocks behind us at 282 feet up.
So without any additional water proofing or specialist gear we can say with hand on heart Hanna has been below the level of the Sea.
We are staying here until Amazon delivers us a new Dash Cam so there will be more to see like the ghost town at Rhyolite, the Golden Canyon, The Artist’s Drive and the Artist’s Palette, Mosiac Canyon, Ubehebe Crater and Mesquite Flats Sand dunes. More to come then …. 🙂