Vegas and Death Valley National Park

Upon our arrival at Lake Havasu City, we ordered brand new H rated Goodyear tires and had them installed on the RV.  Ours were only 4 years old, but after having experienced a blowout we were not going to take any chances.  We left the RV at the collision shop in Lake Havasu, knowing it would undergo cosmetic surgery and that the doctor had previously ordered all the botox it needed, we left for Las Vegas for a few days and bordered Jackson at Camp Bow Wow.

We have been to Las Vegas in the past many times over the years and had always stayed in the strip.  This time we opted for different and decided to stay downtown and the GPS took us through the strip.  Aside from it being crowded and the traffic being just awful, it is always amazing to see the magnitude of these hotels.  On the bright side, it is awesome to see how much the town continues to grow and how many new hotels are being built.

We reconnected with old-time friends, Kathy and Chuck England.    John worked with Chuck at the United Association and they have lived in Las Vegas all their lives.  It had been ages since we had seen them.

On our first night, we walked up and down Freemont Street where nightly street performers do their thing hoping for tips.  Another sight was that of older men wearing nothing but boas and thongs standing idly by.  Suffice it to say that the images were worse than those of the less than presentable homemade full body paint jobs done for Fantasy Fest in Key West.  The main stage offers live band entertainment all while  screaming patrons zip lined above our heads.  It was also quite fitting that the sign read “We Come to… Las Vegas”.

A few blocks away was Container Park.  An interesting shopping mall entirely built using shipping containers, each of which is a different venue, ranging from shops to eateries and everything in between.  In its courtyard was a huge children’s playground with more slides than I could count and a small amphitheater.  At the entrance was a huge steel praying mantis where people gather to watch it emitting fire from its antennas every so often.

We wanted to see Vegas from the Stratosphere and on our way we stopped at “the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop”, which was interesting to see and for fun, we met Rick’s life size cardboard.  People are allowed to come in just to look around and it was like a revolving door.

We learned that the Stratosphere tower is 1,149′ tall and claims to be the tallest building in the western hemisphere.  We were fortunate to have a very clear day and the views from the observation deck were amazing.  I did not realize how large a city Las Vegas is.

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We drove with Kathy and Chuck to Death Valley National Park.  The road to Death Valley reminded me of Texas in a way.  It was a long drive with not much to see along the way, except for a few establishments of ill repute here and there.  It’s pretty sad that people actually travel for hours just to get a little lovin’ and then who knows what kind of souvenir they take back.

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We arrived at Death Valley National Park around 10:00 a.m. and already the temperature had reached 100°.  Thank goodness for air conditioned vehicles.

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We had to pick and choose which scenic points to visit as this park is the largest of the national parks outside of Alaska.  We knew that the road to Scotty’s Castle was closed so that narrowed our options and we were saddened to learn that Dante’s View was closed the day we visited.

One of the lookouts is Zabriskie Point

In the middle of the park is The Oasis at Death Valley which used to be called Furnace Creek Resort.

The Oasis was absolutely beautiful and the surroundings were surreal.      I could not get over the thought that this was in the middle of the such a dry and hot desert and that it was not a mirage.

We had lunch at the golf course grill and it was a lovely place.  The greens were nice and it was so peaceful with the mountains as a back drop.

Badwater Basin is the lowest elevation in the western hemisphere.  It is 282′ below sea level.  As we walked on the basin, it felt odd and  spongy.  It makes for a truly unique experience as you can see them for as far as the eye can see, about 200 square miles.

Note the sign posted on all trails – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

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The crust is relative thin and there is mud underneath, which is why vehicles are not allowed on it.

 

Walking back to the car, someone pointed to a sign that read sea level.

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I circled the sign so you can get an idea of how small it looked from the ground.

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And then, there are the Mesquite Sand Flats

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The highest dune is only about 100′ although they cover a vast area.  Does anyone out there know how sand dunes are formed?

It was time to return to Las Vegas and then the following day, return to Lake Havasu.  The RV was ready and it looked really well.  We are now ready to travel!

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