A Travellerspoint blog

California - Death Valley

L.A. is a great big freeway

sunny 40 °C


We hadn't pre-booked a hire car because of uncertainty of flight dates (ours was the inaugural Rartonga - L.A. direct flight and had already been rescheduled once), presuming that we'd get to the car hire desks and find the best deal.

Wrong! At L.A.X. it doesn't work that way. The various car hire companies run free shuttle buses to their offices so when you get there, with wife, kids and luggage in tow, on the eve of Easter weekend, you're something of a captive audience and the guy behind the desk knows it. After 10 minutes of heated debate, the rate was reduced by a third, which still left me paying twice as much as the best internet rates for the same dates.

So - always pre-book!

Our car was a very large Dodge Magnum. Very flashy looking.
Great stereo.
Great Air-con.
OK for freeways but once out in the Sierra Nevada, it cornered like a channel ferry, and braked like a Mac truck. So bad was it that we ended up making a detour via Reno to swap it for a top-of-the-range Toyota, which was fantastic!

Back to the story....

We headed straight out of LA without stopping to visit the big mouse or rub shoulders with the stars in Rodeo Drive and, after an overnight stop in a roadside motel, drove into Death Valley, the second lowest place on Earth, and the second hottest.




We explored the salt flats at Badwater and made the two mile round treck to the highest sand dune and back. Although it was only early Spring, the temperature reached 103F (40C - hotter than it has ever been in England), and it felt it!





Death Valley is a strange place. A place that makes you want to sit still for a while and just listen....


Equally strange - a couple of hours later we were surrounded by snow and freezing on the slopes of Mount Whitney!

Posted by chaddo 02:04 Archived in USA

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