Friday, 10 August 2012

Friday / Death Valley

We drove through Death Valley in order to get to Vegas, and the experience deserves a post all of its own. We left Bakersfield early, mentally prepared for the long drive ahead through hundreds of miles of desert. Now, everyone knows that Death Valley is called as such for a reason. The heat was so intense that on the few occasions we stepped out of the car, the heat forced us to move as slowly as possible to conserve energy - it was 49C / 120F. I kept on finding myself being astounded at how unusual it was to be in a place where there is virtually nothing except mountains, the open road, and the very occasional car. During our drive we saw an enormous billboard advertising Gus’s freshly made jerky for sale in 30 miles time. Tim got increasingly excited as we saw a few more signs for Gus’s jerky as we counted down the  30 miles to Gus’s tiny piece of civilisation.
After a few hours of driving through the desert the car started making slightly worrying sounds whenever the brakes were applied. Our little Chevvy had been doing so well but the heat and need for lots of braking on the down hill roads were just too much, so we stopped for a while to let them cool down. Those brilliant brake pads were hot enough to fry a few eggs and rashers of bacon on, which I am sure we would have attempted to do if we’d had some eggs and bacon to hand.

En route to Vegas we took a minor detour to visit a ghost town called Rhyolite that Tim had his heart set on seeing.
It was a fascinating place, inhabited by 8000 people back in 1904. Within 5 years the gold was becoming much harder to mine, and everyone left, along with their disassembled houses. Now all that remains are a few buildings – a saloon, part of a school, a bank and a general store.
The highlight of the remains was a house made from glass beer bottles, built by a man who liked his drink so much that he couldn’t afford the materials required to build his house, so he used beer bottles instead.
In this little ghost town there is also some art in the form of statues created by Albert Szukalski, representing the last supper in the form of life-size statues shrouded in white ceramic veils.
There's also a wonderful mosaic sofa - yet another curious sight to behold in the middle of the Nevada desert!

As we neared Vegas we marvelled at the changing skies, noticing clouds ahead that looked very much like rain. Sure enough, it was. It looked like we were going to be driving right through the heart of the heavy rain cloud, then the road started to curve away from it. We still got to see lightening and experience a bit of desert rain – huge, loud, splattering rain drops that pelted the car with quite some force. I love to watch a good rain storm for a bit of entertainment.
By the time we had driven through the rain we were almost in Las Vegas, at which point the scenery changed completely. I’ll share our Vegas experiences in the next post.

1 comment:

  1. This is AWESOME!! Thank you so much for sharing:) I love that house made of bottles.....so fascinating!

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