Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day three - Through the desert

Phew! It was a hot and long day. As with each morning so far, I woke up early with my mom to enjoy some coffee together. As a close friend would say, we wake up at the butt-crack of dawn. This morning we even got in time to do laundry - my siblings are a bit silly when it comes to their clothes. Anyway, we got out of the road a little later then originally planned but if there's one thing I've learned about planning such things as road trips - the schedule is simply a framework to stick to; it's all about flexibility. Besides, as I said, the majority of the day was driving so I wasn't too worried about it. We left Merced, California and headed south east towards our lunch spot in Ridgecrest, California about 4.5 hours away. Thanks again to Yelp, I found this little spot that serves burgers, fried zucchini, and a few mexican food items.
If you haven't noteiced already, Blake has had a "duck face" in every photo. Apparently it's a goal of his.
 When then made a quick run to the town's Walmart to stock up on candy and chips for the road since we were running low.
We didn't pose for this, mom just kept walking in a serpentine and we followed.
We made our way towards death valley. I can't really explain why, but death valley was one of the spots I was looking forward to the most. I mean, you see lots of pictures of the national monuments (Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, etc) but hardly anything of death valley. Yes, I recognize that it's a desert and there isn't exactly a lot to see but... yeah (real intelligent argument, I know). About an hour before officially entering death valley, we drove through what looked like a ghost town - there's was houses broken down and boarded up, abandoned looking cars, and no people - but then we'd see stuff that indicated that at least someone lived there... like a brand new Hummer 2! We thought this would be the perfect spot for Clarke to collect his trinket, being a hubcap.

Oh gosh, I don't think we've ever laughed so hard. First we stopped at a junk yard sort of thing but dad started freaking out that the town sheriff was going to come pick up Clarke and charge tens of thousands of dollars for his bail. "How do you think he affords the hummer!?" My brothers, always quick on their feet, entertained us with a myriad of jokes after that: "Oh no dad, I think someone is following us. Oh wait, there's no one there!!" We did eventually find a hubcap along the road in a spot that no one would ever think us stealing.

 Continuing our drive, we finally found death valley but that also means the heat continued to rise. If I remember correctly, by this point in our journey the temperature was up to 100 degrees (Fahrenheit, obviously).

 High spirits continued as we drove another hour to Furnace Creek. Even though it is "just a desert" I surprised at how beautiful it was with the varying colors of the mountains, the different plants (yes, there's plants), and the landscape in general (like the sand dunes). Once at Furnace Creek, the boys did a 1 mile jog (gross!!) while the girls explored the gift shop. Before we got out, I read from the Death Valley brochure, that I printed ahead of time, that you should not get out of your car without a shirt, sunglasses, and something to cover your head, such as a large brimmed hat.

"I can't find my sunglasses so I'll just cover my eyes"
Once the boys returned, bought their trinkets, and doused themselves in water we continued the drive. Now, as I've said, death valley was one of the stops I was looking forward to most. To be specific, Dante's View which self-proclaimed that it was a breathtaking view overlooking the valley at 5,000 feet above sea level (the valley being 282 feet below sea level). The drive was long and windy but once there, it was totally worth it (well, mom didn't think so but that's probably because it made her nausous).

Yes, that is Blake texting. Did you expect anything different?
We made our way back down after freaking mom out by standing too close to the edge (being at least 6 feet) and continued on towards Las Vegas. I have a confession: The only reason I chose Las Vegas was because of the hour I knew we were getting in. If I died never having gone, I would've been fine. I wasn't exactly excited about this bit of the trip beyond seeing all the lights along the strip.

A guitar for Clarke

A bit blurry
We all scrunched in one seat since Jaz and Clarke couldn't see from the very back

There was a stark difference in the scenery from early in the day compared to our last hour on the road. Driving at a the speed of snot, we inched our way along three times before deciding we had had enough of the hot, stale beer and cigarette smoke filled air. That was the day - long and hot. I must say though, it was also probably my favorite day. With the exception of a bumpy, grumpy morning there was no arguing or even agitated attitudes. Just smiles and family bonding the whole way. I anticipate the remainder of the trip to be similar :)

Until next time, dear readers recommended by my parents and my few but faithful friends, live long and prosper.

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