Return to CA: Part 3

Next, I entered the place that compelled me to pack extra fuel in the trailer: Death Valley. Websites and blog write-ups warn that there is no cellular coverage in Death Valley. They’re not kidding! I easily drove over 150 miles without a signal, even with my cellular signal booster. Bring paper maps and/or download offline maps for navigating. I had both and was ready to visit a few main attractions. For a very long time, I had thought about a road trip that included the highest paved road in the U.S. I thought that was Pike’s Peak until I later discovered that it’s Mt Evans nearby. Regardless, both my November trip and this current trip took place when those roads are closed due to snow and ice.

With the highest paved road being out of the question, I then turned my sights on driving the LOWEST paved road in the U.S.: Badwater, CA. I left Pahrump before sunrise so that I could get to Badwater before the sun rose above the mountain and to beat the crowds. Badwater Basin is just 100 feet from where this photo was taken. It is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. So, I think this photo is on the lowest paved road in the Western Hemisphere. Look closely at the mountain and you’ll see a sign which shows sea level. The opening in the rocks is where I stood to take the higher vantage point photo in the album below. I walked down to the Badwater Basin sign to make my visit “official” (shown below).

From Badwater Basin, I set out to see Artist’s Drive, which leads to Artist’s Palette. This road has vehicle length restrictions of 25 feet due to sharp turns and deep dips in the road. My combination is about 23’3″. My only concern about this drive was finding a place to park once I found the Palette. I had scouted the site via satellite and saw ONE space that I  hoped was open. Sure enough, the spot was clear and I was able to spin around to back in. Being selfish, 😉 I would have preferred if the SUV wasn’t there so that I could have the photographic illusion of my car being the only one present. But I still think the image turned out good. Different areas in these hills contain various elements in the soil which change the colors. The colors are bold from a distance, but hard to notice when actually standing up there. See a photo below.

From there, I began my climb out of the valley and over the mountain toward Barstow, CA. Here is one of the mountain passes. I was behind a couple of slow-moving vehicles and stopped to let them put some distance between us. The “distance” didn’t last long. After taking this photo, a series of them, I simply released the parking brake and let the car roll. I was quickly up to 60 mph and caught them within a few minutes. The road straightened; then I was able to execute a pass and leave them behind. Later, I found myself wondering about fuel. I passed one fuel station, but questioned the quality of its fuel. I had the extra five gallons of 93 AKI in the trailer. So, I wasn’t terribly worried. I arrived at a fuel station without having to use my extra fuel, but it was close to being out of fuel. See this video for a report. I arrived at my destination in Central CA after a 400-mile day.

My wife and I didn’t visit Sequoia National Park in November because the roads had snow and ice and required chains for access. This time, the “road conditions” hotline said the roads were clear and that chains were not required. I planned to make a morning drive since my wife wasn’t flying into Fresno until 2pm. I’ll share that trip next…

From a “Low Point” in My Life,


About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 30 years. I have an electronics background and continue to work in the electronics engineering field. I taught myself the basics about automotive systems as well as how to perform some of my own maintenance (cars and bicycles). I became involved with Amateur Radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology has made my job and several of my hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography, electronics, amateur radio, web management, and reptiles. Visit my websites to learn more.
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