As we were packing up I met Geoff who was head of maintenance at the hotel. He offered to take me on the roof to see a different view of Vegas, and being after a shot that Dom hasn't had on his blog, I followed on. Setting off into the heat of the day we travelled along the 160 to Pahrump where provisions were brought. Travelling on to Death Valley Junction we came across the Amargosa Opera House having just crossed over the state line to California. We joined the 190 and drove the 28 mile decent to Furnace Creek, past the Furnace Creek Inn, where rooms start at $350 a night and is closes for the summer months to our camp site a more modest $18 a night under the trees. We arrived at 1700 and the temperature was only 97F!
Up at 0600 the next morning just as it was starting to get light, with the temperature still 80F, we prepared to go exploring. We met Nacho Sr and Nacho Jr who were riding BMW's and had arrived after dark the night before. They told us about Mexico and we spent a good hour looking over the map. Nacho Jr offered to put us up in San Francisco when we get there which hopefully we will be able to take up. We headed south stopping to look at the Golden Canyon before travelling on to the Devils golf course for a quick round, followed by the lowest point in North America at Badwater. Can you see the sea level sign on the cliffs? Having run out of salt to cook by Jillie does her bit. It was starting to get hot, in fact 110F hot but the water, which was there was Bad. which is why I suppose it is called Badwater. Retreating back north we did the artist drive loop, past some very nice pastel rocks for lunch back at camp. After a sweaty siesta (the heat was very draining) we headed north towards Beatty with the intention of doing a bit of off road along the Titus canyon, a 27 miles dirt track that snakes through the mountains on the east side of the valley. Although we were unloaded, I hadn't adjusted our suspension, so it was set very hard for carrying all our luggage. The road was very washboarded and after about a mile it was obvious that the next 2 hours were not going to be very unpleasant so we turned back and headed for Beatty instead, where you can stay and go to a real cowboy saloon with modern day horses outside. We saw a real live cowboy strutting a gun and spurs. Having filled up with petrol we headed back to the ghost town of Rhyolite where there was a house made of bottles, a boarded up Casino, and the remains of a bank. (The recession hit hard here but at least drinking came in useful to build your house). On the right as we were leaving we went to view the works of Albert Szukalski who died in 2000, and others. something to do with wanting to mine in the cold, The last supper, a comfy seat and you can't take the bicycle with you. We then headed back to camp and as we dropped into Death Valley the temperature rose by 20F.
Started out early the next day to try and avoid the worst of the heat. Headed north stopping to view the remains of the Harmony Borax works and the 20 mule wagon teams that were used to haul the Borax 165 miles out of the valley to the nearest Railway. Next stop was the Ubehebe Crater a big hole in the ground cased by a volcanic bang in the not so distance past. Scotty's castle was the next stop. Scotty was a very interesting, larger than life character, who spent his life in these parts and was buried there. An oasis in the desert which we left with a good feeling. We travelled north up the 95 before turning west on the 266 as clouds were building. Just before the Lida pass we stopped to put on waterproofs as we could see that we were in for a soaking. Little did we realise that within 5 miles it would be thunder and lightening all around us with hail that hurt my arms as it turned the road white and the surrounding dessert into a lake. Luckily it was only short lived (longer I think for Jill who's life was flashing in front of her) and we reached a place called Dyer on the 264 that had an RV park. Clouds were looking black up ahead so we decided to stop while we were still alive to tell the story. Went to eat a Boonies Bar just across the road, where we watched American football (How can a 1 hour game take 3.5 hours on the TV?) before retiring to the sound of heavy rain on our tent for the night and the first part of the morning.