Death Valley and Las Vegas

The day after our 4th of July "celebration" we got up early left the hotel already at. 8.30 AM. The first leg of the trip was along Interstate Highway 15 North. We passed the  same villages as we did the day before when we were in Calico, but also some new places. Among the things we passed was the signpost to the road with the exciting name Zzyzx Road. 7 or 8 miles further along the interstate we reached the town of Baker, where we left the highway to head north to Death Valley. Already on the way north from Baker we passed through a totally different landscape than on the first leg. Very exciting and interesting, but also very hard to describe. In the small town of Shoshone (52 inhabitants!), we stopped at a gas station to get some water and a cup of coffee.

Heading for Death ValleyWe continued on to Death Valley and made several stops to take pictures, including picturs of some large sand dunes just before we entered the national park. We drove towards Lake Badwater, a dry lake which is more than 280 feet below sea level, thereby being the lowest point in North America. Normally about 38 mm of rain falls in Death Valley per year, but in some years it rains a lot more. It happened in late 2005, when there fell about 150 mm of rain. In these years, the lake fills up, and when it is largest it covers an area of 8 by 5 miles, but because of the heat the water evaporates quickly. In 2007 there were no further traces of the lake from 2005. When the water evaporates it leaves the salt, and when the lake is dry, you see the white salt surface, which consists of 95% ordinary table salt and 5% other salts.

Here at Badwater we of course like anybody else, had to take a walk on the dry lakebed, and we were both photographed at the signpost that tells about the altitude or lack thereoff. We continued on towards the Visitor Center at Furnace Creek, and here we bought a year pass to all U.S. national parks etc. as we were goint to visit a lot of other national parks on this tour.

After visiting the Visitor Center we drove northwest to Nevada. Here the landscape changed again, and as we approached the mountains in the early afternoon the temperature began to rise, but we must have visited on a chilly day, because it never rose above 114 degrees in the shade and average temperature in July is 115,9. Had we been down in Badwater, it had probably been several degrees higher, probably around 120, I guess. The highest temperature measured at the meteorological station at Furnace Creek is 134, making it one of the hottest places in the world.

We exited the park near the town of Beatty, Nevada, and drove to Las Vegas taking a small detour via Pahrump. In return, we found that the town's 41,000 inhabitants were scattered over a large area, as there is a good distance between the houses. Actually Pahrump takes up more than 300 square miles. We did not stop in town, but continued south until we met I-15 again. This took us the rest of the way to Las Vegas. Here we found our hotel, The Stratosphere Tower without any kind of trouble. The tower, reaching almost 1.200 feet into the sky, is not easy to overlook. Here we left car with a valet, who made sure that it was driven to the hotel parking garage. We walked through the casino site to the lobby, which apparently had just been invaded by guests. There was a long queue and it took some time before we got our rooms, which turned out to be on 14th floor - overlooking The Strip.

We stayed in the room until 6 PM and then went out to get something to eat. At Sahara Avenue, not far from the hotel, we found an Indian restaurant, that Tim found interesting. It turned out that we were the only non-Indians at the restaurant but the food was good. Tim had curry chicken and I had another chicken dish in a spicy sauce. After dinner we went to the nearby monorail. Here we bought a 24-hour ticket as we expected to do some monorailing the next day as well. We took the train to the MGM Grand. Here we walked through this giant hotel/casino before we went out on The Strip. We walked all the way back to the hotel along the Strip, with small detours to see some of the many casinos, and once to buy some water before we completely dehydrated. Along the way, Tim's feet, that had not recovered from the walk in San Fanrcisco began to hurt again, but we managed the walk even if it was still around 90 degrees.

The next day, we had planned to see some more of Las Vegas and maybe the surroundings, but we had to change plans, when I discovered, that I had forgotten my asthma medication on the hotel in Barstow. As we had gotten up late, we spent most of the rest of thew da by driving to Barstow and back to Vegas. Even if we took the highway, the 315 miles round trip took more than 7 hours because we ended up in a traffic jam in both directions. It was almost 5 PM when we got back to the hotel.

Sky jumping from Stratosphere TowerBack at the hotel we went to our room and picked up our cameras, and then we went up the Stratosphere Tower. Here we watched the new attraction, Sky Jump Las Vegas. From a ledge outside the viewing platform, you may "bungee jump" down from the tower. The free fall is app. 800 feet and just before you reach the bottom, a mechanism in the cable makes sure you slow down. This pleasure that lasts a few seconds and where you reach speeds of around 50 miles per hour, costs $ 100, but even though I offered to pay, Tim had no desire to try!

When we got tired of watching the view fromt the tower we went back to the room and relaxed for an hour. Then we went back into town. Our 24-hour tickets were still valid, so we went down to the monorail, which we took to Bally's/Paris Las Vegas station. From there we went to the Strip and crossed it through a walkway that led to the Bellagio Hotel & Casino. The reason for this excursion was that Dorte wanted a small wallet from Gucci, and at the Bellagio is a Gucci store. This is one of the times, that the difference between Biitish and US English has made troubles for us. I asked for a small purse, and the saleswoman showed me a small bag. I then told her, I needed a purse for money, and she exclaimes "Oh, a wallet!". In my earlier opinion, wallets are for men. purses for women, but when we had come to an aggreement about what we were talking about, she showed me some wallets, and I found something that I thought Dorte might like, so she got her purse, sorry wallet, in the end! :-) For the first time, I understood George Bernard Shaw, when he said: "England and America are two countries separated by a common language", or Oscar Wilde, who put it this way: "We have really everything in common with America except, of course, language".

Now it had become dinner time, and Tim really wanted to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, which he had heard much about. It took a small stroll along the Strip, but luckily we found the place without having to walk more than a mile or so. When we arrived, there was a long waiting line, but Tim had brought his VIP card from Hard Rock Cafe in Denmark, and we only had to wait about 5 minutes before we got a table. When we had eaten, we went by monorail back to the Sahara station (the ticket had now expired, so we had to buy another one). From the station we walked back to the hotel where I went to look at the Blackjack tables, and not least the beautiful and scantily clad dealers :-) while Tim returned to our room.

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