Thursday, December 5, 2013

12/5 Road to Death Valley

This was a relatively long drive for me.  I try to keep my driving days to no more than 225 miles, and this one was 220 miles.  Driving a motorhome is much more stressful than driving a car because there is so little room for error.  I keep both hands on the wheel almost all the time because I worry about having another blowout and losing control.  In addition, a big vehicle like mine is very sensitive to wind and the push of air from passing trucks, both of which make you swerve a bit.  And a lot of roads are not exactly level, making your top-heavy-feeling vehicle a little harder to control.  All in all, you really have to pay attention.

I drive in the truck lane at about 60-65 MPH.  Legally, I do not have to obey truck speed limits in most states because I have only two axles, but that speed feels about right to me anyway.  I do occasionally pass trucks, but not too often. I can go uphill a lot faster than most of them can, but downhill, they sometimes beat me.  Today, I had some pretty scenery to look at and the first 40% of the drive was on good freeways:

The freeway went through Barstow and Baker, which was my exit.  Almost no traffic on this state highway, but lots of mountains and wide vistas.

I like roads that go on seemingly forever!  I could easily stop in the middle of this one to take pictures because as you can see, there was no traffic for quite a few miles.  The shoulders looked a little sandy to me, so I was afraid to pull off the highway and get stuck.

Yes, that is a puddle!  I drove right past another even bigger puddle.  (I need to start paying attention to places where people are stopped because they are often stopped in a place for a reason.  I saw two motorcyclists looking at the puddle I drove past, but I was going too fast to stop and no place to turn around.)  I took this picture while stopped in the middle of the road because I could see a couple of miles behind me and several miles into the distance and there was no one!  They had a substantial rainfall last week and a smaller rain last week, hence the puddles.  Notice the salty-looking crust near the road and on the mountains.

After a while, all the scenery starts to look the same.  Did I pass this before?

Finally, the official entrance sign.  Actually I had been driving inside the park for a while before I got to this sign.

More mountains and long vistas.

It almost looks like there is some water in the bottom of Death Valley, but I was not sure.  Will check tomorrow.

I got set up into my campsite at Furnace Creek.  What you cannot tell from these photos is how cold it is.  I had to keep the cab heater going on this whole drive because it was so cold.  High temp today in Furnace Creek, one of the lowest and normally hottest parts of the park, was 53.  Low tonight is supposed to be 25.  Brrrr!   Supposed to have a high of 44 tomorrow and an equally cold night tomorrow night.  Got both furnaces and my electric heater going tonight!  Just glad I am not in a tent. 

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