California (Death Valley)
Starting on Saturday, September 28, 2002, 3:02:46 PM
Death Valley was part of the trip that I didn't expect to see very much but I was mistaken. I had been through there many years ago and had pretty much forgotten about it and only remembered it being desert. I don't know where or when in my life I have grown to appreciate some of these things that I never appreciated before. Maybe its been the realization that some things aren't always around forever and we have to take advantage of what we have and appreciate it as such.
Death Valley was quite a magical place. Although fairly desolate it still had a beauty all of its own.
Now here I must explain the frog. While I was in Oregon, at my sisters, I was giving her such a hard time about her simple little yard art. The frog was sitting on the ground in my sister's yard at the foot of some very pretty flowers. Although it is only plastic it is actually quite heavy and I believe it must be filled with something. It is approximately seven to eight inches in length and actually looks pretty realistic. Well, to get back to the reason that you now see it in Death Valley, I decided to take the frog on a journey with me. Just a little trick on my sister to make fun of her little yard art and send this little thing on a trip across the country with me. You may see it from time to time in various different places along the rest of my journey.
Unfortunately a bad thing happened that seems like a little poetic justice. Not long after leaving my sister's house in Scio, OR, I drove down the freeway and stopped in Eugene, OR where Wilson, the stuffed eagle got stolen off of the front of the bike. Never to be seen again. I guess I deserved it for stealing my sister's frog. Well, stealing seems like such a bad word. So let's just say that the frog is on vacation with me. He will surely return some day.
More pictures of this desolate landscape.
Since there was no traffic at all and I didn't see another car for miles I got a little silly and began to play around while riding. Here' a shot of me standing up on the bike, at about 65 miles per hour, with no hands, taking a picture of my shadow. Another one of just me and a shot to show that there really wasn't any traffic.
For miles you could see as the road just kept going and going and going. To show how little traffic there was I stopped the bike in the middle of the highway and got off of it to take a few pictures.
Some of the surrounding mountain were pretty tall, especially compared to the extremely low level of the valley.
In the different areas of the park the scenery changed quite dramatically and displayed some amazing sights.
Being at the lowest point in the United States is kind of a strange feeling. I don't think that I've ever been this low before. At the visitor's center it was 190 feet below sea level. I'm not quite sure how much lower the park went as this was the lowest posted altitude I had seen.
I rode on to see what more lay beyond this desolate wasteland. The road was hot under the wheels of my ride. As long as I kept moving I was able to remain somewhat cool from the breeze I was creating. I would occasionally stop to get a picture or two and didn't feel comfortable in turning off the engine.
What if it didn't start again? What if I become stranded there. I managed to keep an eye on my fuel level and the distance I had traveled, making sure that I would have enough time to get back to a safe location.
The sun was falling lower toward the horizon, casting shadows across the desert. The land seemed to change and could feel the temperature dropping. How cold would it get, I wondered?
I had missed something on the road and went out further than I had planned. My map showed the town of Death Valley, which I never saw a sign displaying that I had been there. I figured on going to the town of Death Valley and then turning around. I had to stop and retrace my steps. I looked at my map and remembering the different roads I had passed and realized that I was almost to the far west side of the park. I turned around. The place, Furnace Creek, that I passed must have been the location of what appeared to be "Death Valley" on my map. I turned back and headed towards that location.
As I did the sun began to lower and it started to get dark. I found the place that had once been the town of Death Valley. There wasn't much there other than an intersection. I was beginning to get concerned about my fuel level and where would be my next tank of gas. One road, hwy 127 headed north and into Nevada. That was on my map. There was a sign that stated fuel only seven miles up that road. There was another sign displaying a way to Las Vegas, via Pahrump, NV. It stated 22 miles. I decided to take the seven miles up tot the closest gas and then backtrack to Pahrump, seeing as it was more on my way.
I got my fuel right across the border at a tiny gas station and convenience store that I feared wouldn't have been open at that hour. Although, right across the street was a casino, all lit up, with cars all in the parking lot, that seemed to be the only other place around for miles. It never ceases to amaze me how much money people spend on gambling. Then to what lengths they will go to do it.
I got my gas and ate a hot burrito that I bought in the store and headed back to the highway that wasn't on my map.
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