Finally! Something about vaction!

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I won't really say much about the first day and half of vaction. Friday night and all day Saturday were just driving, driving, driving and more driving. We drove all the way to Kingman AZ by stopping time Saturday night.

Sunday morning we got up and went to mass at St. Mary's--just so it would seem like home, I guess. Nice enough parish.

Sunday after mass, we decided that instead of taking our originally plotted route from Kingman to San Francisco, we would drive through Death Valley. Zteen really wanted to see it, and it really was awesome. If you like deserts. And 122 degree heat. And salt. Lots of salt. Here's a picture:


Driving out of the Valley, we had to turn our air conditioner off! It was really hot, too. There's every kind of desert landscape in the Park--from the salt flats, to old abandoned borax mines, to scrubby desert, to sand dunes. It really is a remarkable place. I'd like to see it again, just not in JULY!

There should be a giant sign at the edge of Death Valley that says: Going to San Francisco? YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE!. OK, so not really, but we made a serious mistake in our planning somewhere!

Originally, before the Death Valley side trip reared its head, we were going to scoot across California on I-40, then head north on I-5. Instead, we found ourselves heading north on 395. If we had been smart, we would have just driven all the way north to Reno, then gone south to San Francisco. Way out of the way? Yes. But it would have taken no longer than the adventure we ended up with!

We went up to Bishop, and had a really nice Mexican food dinner at a little cafe there, which was pretty much the last nice part of the evening. We were going to hit a little road north of Yosemite--108 or something. But we missed it. By the time we figured out we had missed it, we decided to mush on to the next teeny red squiggle on the map--Hwy 89, which goes through the Carson Iceberg Wilderness area. Well, I'll say it was wilderness. In the dark we drove more than 60 miles going NO FASTER EVER than 25 mph, and substantial parts of the time more slowly than that. It was getting really creepy. We saw no other cars. It was pitch dark. No towns (wilderness area--duh!), no nothing. I began to feel panic, as every horror movie I had ever seen ran through my head.

Finally, about 3 hours into the drive, PapaC says he has to stop--he's held the iced tea from Bishop as long as he can. We get out into the freezing night. Look up at the most beautiful stars you've ever seen, and see everything, because there's not a shred of light from anywhere else. After gazing in wonder for several minutes, PapaC excuses himself and turns around to relieve himself....

And a car drives past. After 3 HOURS of no other cars, all we had to do was let PapaC pee on the side of the road to get another car to come by! We all three broke into almost hysterical laughter--and laughed so hard that tears ran down our cheeks. Oh my, oh my.

Anyway, we finally make it over the mountains and through the woods and get to South San Francisco (where our hotel room is) at 2:30 a.m. (And we got up at 7:00 a.m. to make it to early mass that morning.) We dropped exhausted into our beds, because we have to get up the next morning (the Fourth of July) to be on a bus tour of San Francisco at 8:45 a.m.!!!!!!! Without Death Valley, piece of cake. With Death Valley, it looks like the Bataan Death March. What a way to start a vacation......


The way you went is the way I would have recommended. The Owens Valley, where Bishop is, is one of California's undiscovered gems. When you enter it by Owens Lake, it can be stunning. I assume that you went through Markleeville and came out by Tahoe over Meyers Grade (US 50)? If so, it was a drive that rivals I-80 from Reno, although I-80 does go by Donner's Lake (with ample opportunities for macabre humor). I envy you, as it has been years since we went to Death Valley, although only outsiders go from May to October, for reasons you discovered.

Here's my dumb question of the day. How is driving through Death Valley like the Bataan Death march? You're telling me it's so hot that the A/C cranked up in the car still doesn't get the job done?

Not the trip to Death Valley, TSO. The next day, when we were so tired from our excursion through the wilderness!

But I will say, no our air conditioner wasn't keeping up on the trip out. We even had to turn it off and roll down the windows as we climbed out of the Valley!


One of the things that you have to realize is that Death Valley is not only hot, but dry. It sucks the moisture out of you and wears you out like you would not believe. Just imagine those days of borax mining when people did heavy labor out there. It is a scary and beautiful place.


Did you go into the marble mosaic canyon?

Fascinating. I have no frame of reference for something like Death Valley. Hopefully I'll get to visit it some day (safely).



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on July 26, 2005 9:15 PM.

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