Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Zabriskie Point badlands My first thought was that if I ignored the cold long enough, it would go away. Then, I discovered that this was not true. Despite three layers of covers and not one but two pairs of socks, I still began feeling numb in my toes. This always seems to start around 4am. After lying awake for some time, I was able to get back to sleep again, but was glad when the sun rose around 6:30am and I could drive off.

My plan for the day was to visit a few of the remaining destinations in Death Valley, and then head South towards Los Angeles. My first short stop was at the Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells. I didn't venture into the dunes - I'm figuring I'd seen enough sand on this trip already - but instead just used the zoom capabilities of the camera to get reasonably good shots of the dunes at sunrise. Still, there always seem to be be footsteps, or people wandering at the top of a dune, to ruin a good photo opportunity.

I then proceeded to Zabriskie Point, but since I had already spent quite a bit of time there last year, I didn't stay long but instead ventured on towards Dante's View, probably the best - and most famous - overlook of Death Valley.

I backtracked a few miles to take the South route out of the valley, stopping at Badwater along the way. Last year, I hadn't really noticed how well the small pool of water reflected the surrounding mountains, which, of course, is ideal for a few nice pictures.

After many eventless miles of driving, I arrived at Shoshone with an empty fuel tank. Only to realize that the fuel prices of the only gas station in town were outrageous, and that there was no way I could make it to the next town. So I reluctantly prepaid for about three gallons at $2.19, and filled up at the next opportunity for half a dollar less per gallon.

A road that hasn't been repaved in quite some time in Mojave National Preserve After fuel and lunch, I ventured into the Mojave State Preserve, an area I didn't have a lot of knowledge of (I guess I should have stopped at the Visitor center) and as such I ended up doing a disoriented drive through it, taking both paved and dirt roads to (?). I took the Interstate for a while, and then passed Amboy and Ludlow on the old Route 66. Whereas other Route66 segments I had been using in New Mexico and Arizona had been improved and were connecting towns that were still very alive, this part of the "Mother Road" was a different experience. There weren't a lot of buildings along the way, only few cars on the street, and the road itself seemed to date back a few years. As such, more adequate to evoke thoughts about how it might have used to be, driving on these roads, heading for California, "or bust".

I returned to the Interstate, and decided to stop for the night at Barstow. After driving through the town from one end to the other, I had passed at least twenty or thirty motels. Since I couldn't quite decide which one to take, I just returned to the first one, the Gateway Motel, which turned out to be a reasonable choice, even if not the cheapest alternative.

I spent most of the evening getting everything out of the car, and getting ready for the flight back home. That probably included acclimatizing to Europe by watching WRC and Formula 1 qualifications on cable. :)

Miles driven: 435mi (700km)

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Gateway Motel (Barstow, CA): $34.00

Written March 17th around 13:00 at Gate C2 in Amsterdam.