August 11 - Death Valley

Heading west from Las Vegas to Death Valley, I decided to take the shortest road I could find on my DeLorme map, in terms of mileage. Of course, this wasn't the shortest route, in terms of time! And, one of the "roads" on my map turned out to be not much more than a rocky dry riverbed (Sperry Wash ). See in Google Maps  See on a USGS topographic map  See in Google Earth   35.7500, -116.2050  I passed through an abandoned gypsum mining area (the white stuff), and managed to get a flat tire there — in the desert, hours from any signs of civilization. The temperature was 110° F.

gypsum deposits (8/11 2:22 PM) flat tire near old gypsum mine (8/11 2:39 PM) Sperry Wash road degenerates into just a dry riverbed (8/11 3:29 PM) Exiting Sperry Wash - A four wheel drive club has erected a marker for Sperry Wash (8/11 4:05 PM) No Cars - Sign - at Sperry Wash Entrythe four wheel drive club's Sperry Wash sign (8/11 4:08 PM) Sperry Wash sign close-up (8/11 4:08 PM)

Entering Death Valley National Park from the southern tip, I traveled north for 30 miles on a dirt road before returning to pavement. The temperature climbed another 10° to a high of 122°, which would hold for several hours until sundown.

Death Valley road, southern end (8/11 4:40 PM) Death Valley was hot (8/11 5:08 PM) Badwater, the lowest point (8/11 5:32 PM) worm-like critters lived in the extremely salty Badwater pond (8/11 5:41 PM) Devil's Golf Course (8/11 5:53 PM)

Later that evening, the spare tire I'd mounted on my car earlier in the day exploded. (It had had a suspicious bulge, so I wasn't too surprised.) Luckily I had purchased a tire patch kit on a whim a few days before, and was able to patch the original flat, swapping tires once again.

At this point, I realized I was tired and homesick — so after over 4 weeks on the road, I headed straight back to Seattle — staying on the backroads of Nevada and Oregon.