Monday, August 9, 2010

San Bernardino to Death Valley

This morning, we actually made an early start for a change, hitting the road around 8am. However we didn't take long to get sidetracked, stopping at a local MacDonalds for breakfast. San Bernardino is the city in which Richard and Maurice MacDonald opened their first restaurant, however, this was not that particular MacDonalds. That said, this particular restaurant was certainly a throwback in decor to something I've not seen since the mid 1980's.

An interesting read for would be trespassers in Barstow

After breakfast, we hit the highway, planning to stop just up the road at Victorville to fill the Cadillac at the local Costco and grab some more water before getting into the journey proper. I also was keen to visit that little town on the edge of the desert where 'the drugs began to take hold', Barstow. Barstow is definitely what you would call an 'interesting' town, it's certainly got the appearance of a town that has suffered since the demise of Route 66, however there are also signs that not all the money is gone and some companies are still investing in the town and it's people. This is about where we departed from the former Route 66, as the 'Mother Road' heads south east to Nevada, while we would initially head back to the west before taking a north eastern route into the Silver State, passing through towns such as Boron and Pearsonville (home to the legendary Pearsonville Junkyard, which would be instantly recognisable to those familiar with the work of night photographer Troy Paiva).

The Cadillac at the entrance to the Death Valley National Park

On the trip through Death Valley, we would climb to over 5000 feet before descending to approximately 1200 feet, then climbing to around 4500 feet and dropping to 100 feet below sea level, around the Stovepipe Wells area. Stovepipe Wells is reportedly the hottest part of Death Valley, peaking at 106 degrees Fahrenheit today (Around 41 Celsius degrees for those playing along at home in Australia). Heading out of Stovepipe Wells we had a few more climbs and descents before we were finally out of the danger zone for the Cadillacs cooling system, which had been put under a little stress thanks to some slower drivers refusing to get out of the way on the long climbs.

Crazy gas prices in Death Valley, but still cheaper than home, but just over the border in Nevada, they're almost $2 cheaper per gallon

Once out of the Death Valley National Park, we had only a short drive to the Motel 6 in Beatty, Nevada, just past the Rhyolite ghost town, which we detoured back to after checking in to our Motel rooms. We stopped in at Rhyolite just after dark and managed to get a few long exposure shots in and marvelled at just how many planes cross over that area at night, whether commercial, military or 'other'. We're now back at the Motel 6 and headed for bed, with another long day tomorrow, hoping to get an early start to check out Scotty's Castle in Death Valley, before pushing on to Las Vegas, where our rooms at the Bellagio await.

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