Exeter Island Hoppers Career Break 2005 travel blog

With the temperature at 48o in Bishop we hoped the temperature would be a little higher in the valley as stories are told of " frying eggs on the desert floor as temperatures often reach higher than 100o on a regular basis. But this is spring so won't be as high, although all the signs are to fill up with petrol, carry water & wear a sun-hat. Camping is permitted at regular sites, mostly off road but no tent so no camping on this trip. Stopped at Lone Pine for coffee, another very Western/Indian township with much heritage. Lone Pine studios were based here a while ago and evidence of this as you would be able to get a photo of yourself dressed in Western styles in a western environment and there were Wild West shows during the summer months.

Onto Panamint Springs, the entrance to the park on Highway 190. Not much to see at this small town but early days. As we climbed into the moountains it was apparently clear the valley would be quite spectacular from the top. It was magnificent we were truly not dissappointed, you were quite able to visualise the "pioneers" as they crossed the desert floor in covered wagons and the Indians chasing them ? ( I have been watching too many western movies obviously.) The temperature still in the 40's but as you drop 100ft the temp can rise by 5o so we are prepared for hotter temps soon. As we descended to the desert floor the temperature was still only 50o, maybe later in the 80's ?

Onto Stovepipe Wells and the " sand dunes ", these amazing dunes stretch for a mile and the highest must be over 100feet, there were plenty of tourists clambering over them but we decided to press on to Furnace Creek travelling south 800feet Below sea-level !!

A permit is neccessary to travel in the valley and these are purchsed from the Ranger Stations and at $20 per car you have unlimited access for 7 days in & out the valley. Included with the pass is a detailed map of camping & RV sites along with walking trails. Off roading is NOT allowed.

Temperatures barely got above 64o today but its not hard to imagine higher ones during the summer. The rock formations and colours all around you changed as the sun clouded over and shadows formed, but the most spetacular was at a viewing site off the road overlooking " the Artists Palette ".

Onto Death Valley Junction and the world famous " Opera House ", this was only to be a small building by the side of the road which looked shabby and performances ran between Oct-May at 7.30pm but you could stay in the Motel next door and they also did tours by request.

Onto Lathrop Wells and a welcomed stop for something to eat, to drink & fill-up with GAS.

This small fort-like structure on the side of the road was obviously a popular place to stop & eat as they had SOLD OUT of the soup ?!! Back onto Highway 95 towards Indian Springs & Las Vegas. Arrived early evening during "Presidents Weekend" another Bank Holiday when the Yanks come out in force to Gamble by the amount of cars in the casino car-parks ( but it doesn't need a weekend as the casinos are open 24hrs and there is always someone at the slots or tables ) as you will find out next. We had some accommodation coupons for Vegas so were going to use them as a guide for directions but we were to soon discover not as easy to negotiate the city in the dark. We spotted a casino as were driving into vegas advertising rooms for $33 which is very reasonable, parked the car on the 4th floor carpark, found hotel registration desk, but FULLY booked for the whole weekend, and this was a 2000 room hotel !! Back to the car and followed more neon lights advertising rooms but every hotel was fully booked until Monday night. We decided to head out of the city towards Henderson, a few roadside motels No Vacancies, this was going to be difficult during this weekend, onto Boulder City and the only motel that had a vacancy was $169+tax, out of our price range. Onto the main road and a Travelodge, that is always a little more expensive but NOT this expensive $229+tax !!! We didn't want to buy the room only sleep in it !!! It was now 10pm and getting short of options so decided to head back towards Vegas and find a quiet spot in residential area, where we were not going to be hassled by police / drunks or homeless. Found just the place a quiet no-through road on to a track road, quiet and respectable homes. Heated the car and reclined the seats, got a little cold and uncomfortable but starting the car and heater every hour until dawn, was cheap and in the morning will find a room easier as people check out.

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