Monday, August 01, 2005

Hot and Dry

Today was a long driving day, and most of it was in desert heat. Once I reached Las Vegas, NV, the first leg of my novel research was over. I'll pick up the rest of it on the way back from the conference. So, I took US95 north out of Las Vegas and cranked the air conditioning up all the way.

Several times, we've been in this territory, but usually on a photo excursion to Death Valley. I had considered taking that route, weighting the pleasure of seeing old favorite locations vs. taking the round-about route for speed and because I hadn't taken it before.

About the time I had to make my decision, whether to turn west and go down into Death Valley, the thermometer on my dashboard was reading 107, and the air conditioner wasn't quite making the heat go away. Now my elevation was about 2000 feet, and I know from experience that the temperature goes up as you go down. It would be even hotter down in the valley, and I have vivid memories of the long steep grades it takes to get out the other side. There are several road signs that warn you to turn off your air conditioner to keep your vehicle from overheating, as well as regular roadside tanks for radiator water.

So, I took the loop up 95, joining 6, and then connecting to California 120. The first two were just more hot and dry. The two times I stopped, once for gas and once at a roadside park to check my maps, the air-conditioner didn't restart immediately. I had to drive with it off for a minute or so before I could get it blowing again.

And it didn't help that Mary Ann was having car troubles of her own. I have a feeling that car troubles are a natural part of the order of things. Even when you spend the cash to get a new car, things still go wrong.

But California 120 was a refreshing change. Starting in the desert, I climbed over a couple of mountain passes to come out at Mono Lake in the forest. There was even a restaurant where I had a nice large grilled salmon salad for not much money. I'm stopped now for the night right next to a rushing stream, surrounded by tall pines. There's snow on the mountain outside the window.


Karen said...

Well Henry, you're the king of journaling these days. I'm just now catching up. Glad you are enjoying your excursion. Sounds like a great place for a sleep. Did you pitch a tent?

Henry Melton said...

No, I'm sleeping in the Jeep. It's a little uncomfortable, but if you're tired enough, you get used to it.