First order of business once I got clear of the border was to fuel up the bike. $2.19/gallon – nice! I’m used to paying 13.57 pesos per litre which is about twice the price. I was also able to use up my remaining Pesos to pay for my gas at the Circle K. Speaking of filling up, my insatiable meat craving guided me to the nearest 5 Guys Burger & Fries for lunch. “Is it possible to get extra meat on mine please.” Thought of Denis Leary for some reason.
It felt a little weird being back on the roads in the states, it felt more dangerous somehow. Maybe being passed by someone texting on a cell phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other had something to do with it. Cops everywhere along the highway waiting to pull someone over, just not any of the winners I’ve seen so far apparently. I somehow made it to Needles (unscathed) where I met up with Mike at a campground right along the Colorado River.
Pretty nice spot.
Brand new REI Half Dome 2 and Exped SynMat UL 9 waiting for me when I arrived, thanks to Mike who was nice enough to deliver my new gear. That REI dividend and 25% discount code were perfectly timed I gotta say. I know this sounds crazy to some but I was so stoked about sleeping outside again. The sound of water flowing by, nature, comfy bed, no foosball games or screaming kids. Turned out to be the best sleep I had in weeks. Although I did strangely find myself missing being woken up by the sound of roosters crowing in the middle of the night. I’m sure I’ll get used to this tranquility eventually.
We made a little detour on our way to Death Valley the next morning that nearly ended in my getting arrested. Ok maybe not exactly, but it was my first brush with the law on this trip. I survived 4 months in Mexico, passing buses and transports and cops, on single yellows, double yellows, in construction zones, around topes, you name it. But park the bike in the wrong spot to take a pic at Hoover Dam and it was almost handcuffs and strip search for me! Have to admit that my usual quick wit was caught off guard by the officers greeting: “What side of the road do you drive on in Canada?” A query that I understood to be in regarding my parking the bike to the left of the oncoming traffic lane or rather the implication that I rode it on the wrong side of the road to get it there. My typical response would be “depends how sober we are” but I was kind of taken aback by the question that I simply asked him to repeat it to verify that yup, he is in fact a dick. My wit eventually caught up with me and I told him I wasn’t driving at the moment but curbed my attitude once he established that this was “an educational experience”. And that it sure was.
Since I did pay for these pics with my freedom, I thought I’d show you the place.
Incredible to see the water line 130 feet lower than what it was in 2000.
The Transformers made this place look so massive that it was almost underwhelming seeing it in person. Still pretty cool.
Mike and I celebrated my freedom with breakfast at a burger joint in Vegas. It had been a few hours since my last feeding after all and the meat level meter was flashing dangerously low. Must have meat! MEAT!
Our next stop would really heat things up. Death Valley.
Badwater Basin. Looks like you can just strap on a pair of ice skates and go, although I’m not sure you’d get far on this salt flat. Besides, I did say it was hot. Today’s high was a cool 98F (or about 37C). The highest temperature ever recorded on the planet was right here in Death Valley in July, 1913. A toasty 134F (57C). I know what you’re thinking, “but it’s a dry heat!” I’ve discovered what that really means to me is blowing out bloody crusties from my nose a few times a day.
At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the Continent. Can you see the “sea level” sign up on the mountain?
All that walking around is exhausting, so we took the rest of the day off at a campground in Furnace Creek. I never thought I could hang a hammock in the dessert. We were really looking forward to our canned beans and tuna for dinner when our camp neighbours came over and invited us for some pasta and sausage. We reluctantly accepted, but only because we didn’t want to see them have to throw out all that extra food.