Death Valley–A Scorcher

On the morning we left Vegas, I expected our ride to Death Valley to be interesting. I was taking an unfamiliar road so we could hit Rhyolite. I-95 had chronic signs for Begin Work Area (Fines Doubled). Dutifully, I slowed down and each work area was deserted. Six work areas and no signs of workers or machines. Yet I was still slowing down to 35 mph. Finally, we hit a work area with actual work occurring. But this slowed the trip down considerably. Anyway, we hit Rhyolite, which is very different from Calico, but still not what OL expected. Luckily, we still had Bodie in Yosemite. So all was not lost. There was a cool art exhibit in Rhyolite.

Then we entered Death Valley via the Devil’s Gate. So appropos. I’d watched the temperature climb as we got closer to Furnace Creek (sea level). We arrive at 4 PM to 118 degrees. OMFG. I hate heat. I hate sunlight. This is my worst nightmare. How can I hike in this weather?! Last time I visited DV, it was April and 70s-80s. Of course, this is above average highs. Great just my luck. So we check into our room, which is a small cabin. OL mentions that funnel spiders are living outside the room and I freak out. I hate spiders. I ask if they are poisonous. His response? Some are. Great. Awesome. Killer heat, potentially killer spiders, and unrelenting sunshine.

Our room was nice and clean. It was quite cool temperature wise and proved an oasis. The ranch itself is run by Xanterra and they do an awesome job of it. They have a couple restaurants, one of which served great apple pie. The general store was well stocked and was part grocery store, part gift shop. There’s also a spring fed pool and a golf course. I’d stayed there years ago and was really happy with the service (then and now). We bought our daily water supply there. I also got a few t-shirts and souvenirs.

Our first afternoon, we drove to Artist’s Drive. It’s one of my favorite places. Even at 115 degrees at 6PM. We sat at Artist’s Palette and took in the scenery until the heat got to be too much. Luckily, we have an Infiniti which has good A/C. Thank goodness. We needed it. The weird thing about super dry heat is you don’t notice you’re sweating until your mouth suddenly feels dry. Time to drink water and fast. Otherwise, you get fuzzy headed and it’s kinda downhill from there. But we hydrated regularly. And ate lots of salty tortilla chips. We hit the Trader Joe’s before we left San Diego–they have the best tortilla chips–you can taste the corn. Yummie.

Off topic again. So that concluded our first night in Death Valley. Oh we had awesome cable–4 HBO channels. MTV too. We had the best waiter at the 49er Cafe–Ryan was so nice and super helpful. He went above and beyond warming my apple pie and drizzling it with caramel sauce and adding ice cream on the side. He made our meal there a wonderful experience.

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