BOURNE IN THE USA

 

NEVADA

Nevada (13th to 19th April 2010)

 

Las Vegas

We’ve been to Vegas before but it makes a good stopping point between Utah and Death Valley. We do laundry and get some shopping done at the Fashion Outlet Mall, get the car serviced and have a few meals out. Sadly, we don’t manage to catch up with our friend Joe, who lives here, as he is stuck away on business. The South Point hotel is a few miles south of the Strip and a typical manic casino with lovely big rooms and large bathrooms – a nice change after camping without a shower! The Prime Rib buffet is good value, but as ever at these things, we eat way too much. The hotel has a nice big pool and we get a chance to sit out in the sun and chill out. Virgin Atlantic seems to be using this hotel to put up Brits who are caught in the Volcanic Ash hold up.

Death Valley National Park

As we drive in to Death Valley the wildflowers are coming out, creating big yellow and purple carpets on the hillsides. There is a big variety of desert flowers here, including bright pink cactus flowers. We’re pleasantly surprised by the diversity the park has to offer and we easily fill 3 days here. Apart from the flowers the park is dry and barren, with mountains all round. Our pitch at the Furnace Creek campground is half in the bushes and trees providing much needed shade. During the day the park reaches 100’f and falls to only around 80’f at night. The star gazing is wonderful and we can sleep without the tent top sheet on and watch the stars from our bed.


We have a good time celebrating Dana’s birthday when he and his wife, Jade, from Desert Palms, pitch up near us. The celebrating goes on for 3 nights and causes a few hangovers in the mornings. They are generous and fun people.

 

 


A roadrunner comes to our pitch – a large, silly looking bird with a fixated expression and long powerful legs. He gets on the top of our truck and starts to have an argument with his reflection in the back window. He turns up every evening to coo over himself and brings insects as gifts. We also see chipmunks running around, and a kangaroo rat tries to sit on my foot in the dark after dinner.
Stovepipe Wells offers showers, a shop, and a much appreciated swimming pool about half an hour’s drive from our camp.

Badwater


We’re up at 6:30am to beat the sun, and head for the salt lake flats at 282 feet below sea level. The salt spreads for 5 miles across and is so bright, you squint through sunglasses. Out in the centre the sun starts to hit and it is about 85’f at 8am. The salt is shaped into a pavement pattern and is all crystals and hair like formations. It’s still quite damp and sticky underfoot though quickly evaporating.

Artist's Palette


We tackle the Artist’s Drive early evening when it cools off. It’s actually 93’f but feels cooler. The drive is pretty but also exciting with big bends and dips. The Palette has rocks of every hue and colour in it.

 


Mesquite Sand Dunes

Another early start to get to the sand dunes before the sun is fully up. They are spectacular and the early light shows all the lines and ripples. It’s like being in the Sahara! We see loads of tracks of nocturnal creatures, including a large sidewinder snake, lizards, mammals and birds. At some points little rodent footprints meet a snake trail and the rodent tracks just end – poor thing! We head out a bit far and have to trudge back up and down the dunes in the heat of the morning sun.

 


Mosaic Canyon

A dirt road takes us out to this lovely slot canyon. It’s lined with smooth cream marble. The canyon opens out in to a wide valley where the sun beats us and we turn round. Enjoyable walk though.