Death Valley on a Motorcycle!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Death Valley on a Motorcycle!
Fooled ourselves again!  We did get to California today, but ended up in Nevada…
Today may have been one of the bigger challenges of our trip.  We left Beatty, Nevada, before 6 am.  This time, the early start was not to beat the rain, but to avoid the heat.  We were headed to Death Valley.  As it turns out, the weather gods were still with us.  Because of the slightly overcast skies, the normal temperatures were 10 to 20 degrees lower than expected.  So, the floor of Death Valley only got up to 100 degrees at the most.
The trip through Furnace Creek we had planned turned out to be a longer route than the one we chose – through Stove Pipe Wells.  At 35 miles into the park, this was the perfect place to top off the gas tank, in order to make it through to the next gas station.  (Interestingly enough, we did not see the luxurious resort shown on the website.  The exterior of the resort buildings looked more like a collection of rustic ranch outbuildings from the Old West.)
About 20 miles from the western edge of Death Valley National Park, we came to Panamint Springs Resort.  We planned to stop for coffee, but ended up having a delicious breakfast on the porch in the cool 90-degree morning.  While we ate, we listened to the personable young waitress explain to other visitors that 95% of those who stayed at the resort were Europeans, because Americans didn’t come to Death Valley.  (Maybe most Americans know better, unlike us, but we wouldn’t have missed this for anything.)
After breakfast, we continued to the town of Lone Pine, in the Owens Valley of California.  We turned north on Highway 395, and drove past the scattered ruins of Manzanar.
We had planned a short day – about 250 miles to Lee Vining or Bridgeport.  Not finding a motel to our liking, we kept riding until we got to Minden, Nevada, about 25 miles from Lake Tahoe.  This was a good place to stop, because finding a room at the lake on a Saturday night would probably be a futile search.  We’ll head there in the morning.