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Into The Valley Of Death

Friday, Oct 7

- Landed in Vegas. Took a while to get our rental car from Hertz.

- Drove to Vdara and checked into our room. Really nice with a great view of the Bellagio fountains. But they never went off while we were there.

- Tried to for dinner at Nacho Daddy's, but pulled the plug on that when we realized we wouldn't have time. Blame the giant casinos for making it difficult.

- Instead we went to Mandarin Bar, on the 23rd floor of Mandarin Oriental. Nice views. Paid about $80 USD for a few drinks and appetizers. Chris's appetizer came with dry ice ('cool bbq').

- Walked over to the Bellagio. Caught the very end of the fountain show. Found the Cirque du Soleil theater, and paid $17 USD for 1 drink, but it was a good one! (The 'O' a slushy rum drink).

- We were shown to our seat by at least 5 different ushers. We were on the very side but close to the front. Our favorite act was with the people being flung off of catapult-like swings into the water. After the show, I thought about how my sister was in Tanzania, and on the same day, had posted about the 1000 people in the village she was visiting, and how they had to all share one well, and walk 4km for a single gallon of water. In contrast, we had just witnessed an acrobatic water show, using a million gallon tank, for our amusement.

- Afterwards, we went to Nacho Daddys and had some enchiladas and margaritas. Checked out the scorpion tank on the way out.

Saturday, Oct 8

- Went for breakfast at Bruxie. They're known for their chicken and waffles. Tasty fried chicken wrapped in a waffle! Chris had a breakfast waffle sandwich and we shared a really good strawberry milkshake, in 'The Park' near NYNY.

- Stopped by Whole Foods and stocked up for our upcoming weekend in Death Valley. Spent way too much on groceries!

- Drove to Death Valley. Arrived at Second Wind before dark. Justin's sister showed us around. Then we met Justin, an interesting guy, who had inherited the property from his father, and had turned it into a popular place for people interested in water with potential healing properties.

- Justin gave us a tour of the property and Chris was the only one to guess what one of the unusual objects was (a toaster, used by cowboys). He showed us the nautical theme of the property, including the dock, shipwreck, and lighthouse.

- We made our way into our motorhome and unpacked. We went and sat by the dock to watch the sunset.

- Next we tried out the indoor mineral pool. Very hot! But also relaxing.

- Looked up at the stars for a bit.

- Made our Whole Foods pizza on the BBQ and drank our lemonade.

Sunday, Oct 9

- Woke up fairly early and packed our essentials. An hour into our drive we would discover we were missing some of them (protein bars and water).

- Started off with a hike in Mosaic Canyon. It wasn't too, too hot yet, and the canyon provided some shade. We turned around at the 20 foot wall.

- Then we went and bought peanut butter, milk, and refilled our waterbottles at Stovepipe Wells.

- Next up was the Mesquite Flat sandunes. We walked out to the highest sanddune. We had our crazy carpets with us, and attempted to slide down the dunes, but it did not really work. When we sat on the dunes, and stopped talking, it was completely quiet. We had never been anywhere so quiet. It was a really hot walk back to the car.

- When we got back to the car, the temperature had hit the 100F point. We went and refilled our water bottles again and then drove to the Ubehebe Crater.

- It was really windy at the crater, but we walked all the way around it. Chris fell.

- Drove to Rholite Ghost Town. Chris was disappointed. Thought it would look more like a old western movie set. Instead, it was just some very bare ruins of a few buildings.

- Went for dinner at The Crowbar cafe. Had some good enchiladas. Served by our waiter Richard, who was on just his second day, and still getting used to things.

- Drove back to Second Wind and drank our rose in the outdoor bathtubs (literally bathtubs) underneath the stars.

- Went to bed early, so we could get a sunrise start on the following day.

Monday, Oct 10

- Woke up at 5 AM, and drove towards Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America (-282 feet). We walked out onto the basin, and almost had it all to ourselves. We waited for the sun to come over the mountain, but we realized we were there a little *too early*, but at least we were in the shade. Like many places in Death Valley, it was extremely quiet.

- Up next was 'The Devil's Golf Course', a large salt bed with interesting looking formations, caused by weathering. You could also hear the formations as they warmed up in the sun, snapping, crackling, and popping.

- It was on to Artist's Drive, an area around the Black Mountains that is famous for it's variety of colors, caused by the oxidation of various metals.

- After that we hiked the 'Golden Canyon' Gower Gulch loop. There was one really steep section, straight into the hot sun, but it offered some great views, and overall we really liked this hike, even more than Mosaic Canyon. Probably our second favorite Death Valley experience, after the Sand Dunes.

- Stopped by the Furnace Creek visitor center. We ate our lunch, and watched the short film about Death Valley. On the way out, the temperature display out front read 98F. The forecast was for 103F that day.

- It was off to Zabriskie Point. Great views, and also a lot of other tourists, as some buses from Los Angeles pulled up.

- And then we drove to Dante's View, at around 5,500 feet above the Badwater Basin we had visited that morning. It was an amazing view of southern Death Valley. We hiked in the opposite direction of most tourists, and had a viewpoint to ourselves.

- Back to our motorhome, and had a little rest after our long day. Watched the sunset, which had some really nice red colors.

- Had a bath in our outdoor bath tubs. Tried to use the indoor pool afterwards but some people were hogging it. Finally gave up on it and started dinner.

- Made our spaghetti with lemon-basil. Sat around and chatted with the owner and the other guests for a while. Listened to his stories, some of which we had heard the day before.

Tuesday, Oct 11

- Had one last bath in our hot pool.

- Went to say goodbye in the owner, but got sucked into a few more stories, which took an hour, while Chris finished a few chapters in her book. The owner gave me some of his green clay that he mined.

- Drove to the China Ranch Date Farm, had a date shake, and bought some dates. It looked like an oasis in the desert.

- Started driving back to Vegas. The first stop was for some bubble tea at Brew Tea. I had the taro slush, and Chris had a Hokkaido milk tea. Both were delicious.

- Next was Buldogi's, a gourmet hot dog place. I had one topped with beef, and Chris had a veggie dog.

- Then we went to the Fashion Show mall to kill some time and walk off our food. While in Nordstrom's the sales girl asked me how I was able to style my hair in such an unusual way. "What kind of gel do you use?" she wanted to know. I had to explain that it was my natural look, achieved only by waking up and not bothering to comb it. She ran over to get a mirror to show me what it looked like, and I had to admit it was a pretty unusual hairstyle that I was rocking.

- Drove to WC, an equestrian store, and Chris bought some new breeches.

- Tried to go for Mexican at a famous hole-in-the-wall place, but it was closed. 'Hood broken' the sign read.