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Road Trip USA - Day 14: Grand Canyon, AZ to Death Valley, CA

Date: 6 Aug 2002 Day #: 14 Miles Today: 436
Start: Grand Canyon, AZ End: Death Valley, CA
States Today: Arizona, Nevada, California
Total Mileage: 3,856 Total # States Visited: 18
Points of Interest:

Since I was camping in the park, I was able to visit the rim of the Grand Canyon in the early morning light. I woke up and had the car packed by stuff in by 0630 then visited the rim while I let my tent dry out. It’s dry here, but there’s still the morning dew to contend with. It provides life-sustaining water to desert creatures and plants while also inconveniencing vacationers.
Grand Canyon in the morning sun
Sunlight enters the Grand Canyon
After the rim, I packed up the tent and was on my way to Death Valley at 7:10 am. I’ll note now that the temperature was 64 F.

I hopped on to Route 66 at 8:30, near I-40 mile marker 139 (Crookton). To welcome me, a gopher was standing out of its hole Caddyshack-style.

Racing a Train
After almost two hours of getting my kicks, I got off Route 66 around Kingman.

After passing through a police checkpoint at 11:09, I found myself driving along the Hoover Dam at 11:19, and down into Las Vegas by 11:30.

Driving across the Hoover Dam

I gorged myself on a buffet at Mandolay Bay, only to realize that I didn’t know how to pay for my meal. I had just walked in, grabbed a plate, and started eating. One of the waitstaff found someone to give me a bill, but it seems like I could have just walked out without paying…but I imagine that the hidden video cameras would have caught me. I, uh, walked the streets (in the non-euphemistic sense) for the remainder of the day. My route was more or less Mandalay Bay up to Stardust outside on the street looking at all the casinos, then back to my car along the sinuous air-conditioned inside route.

I ended up leaving Las Vegas around 4:30pm. Initially, I was surrounded by traffic (everyone else living out the song?), but very quickly ended up as the only car in sight.

Leaving Las Vegas
I crossed over the California state line at 6:22, to arrive at Death Valley at 7pm. I had just under a half tank of gas when I arrived at Death Valley. Everything there – information, check-in, most campsites – are closed. One site is open, Furnace Creek.

No need for a submarine...
Yes, it's over 102 F at sunset here in Death Valley.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped out at my chosen campsite is the hot, dry wind. It was at least 15 mph, maybe more. My mom’s pop-up tent has serious issues when trying to set it up because the wind keeps catching it. I tried a few rocks inside, to no avail. I used my hiking backpack as a tent-weight, but there’s still too much wind and the rocky ground won’t hold my stakes. I decided to find a better spot.
Carrying my backpack normally, with the pop-up tent fully extended and surrounding me so that my feet were sticking out the tent door, I walked around until I found a less windy spot under a nearby tree. It was less windy, but still windy. I got some of the same stakes into the slightly softer soil and dumped enough gear inside the tent to keep an outdoor supply shop stocked. That tent’s not going anywhere.

I checked out the bathrooms, and the water is nearly scalding. I guess that happens with pipes below ground in a desert. The sun set at 7:50pm, in a rosy haze. I can almost feel the heat dissipating as it disappears. Almost.

Read more about my Great American Road Trip adventure.

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