Forward to Arizona!

Kārlis writing:

Waking up early in the morning after 3 days staying in LV (Las Vegas, of course, not that LV which stands for Latvia). Exhausted but determined. Yes, that’s us.
Shortly after Las Vegas we made turn to the Hoover Dam. We crossed it by cars and walked back by foot. Try splitting some drops of water in it and you will see how upcoming winds fight against gravity. One can imagine how all this massive construction was build helping to control water in a desert and giving electricity at the same time. This side of the dam was made in astronomical motives symbolizing the greatness of this man made giant construction influencing several U.S. states. After sightseeing, shopping and geo-cashing we crossed the dam again. And we crossed it again by cars going back. Then we stopped at parking lot before the bridge. We went uphill and took a walk on a bridge. There was a nice sightseeing from a middle of a bridge over the dam. Really nice view just a bit windy on beginning –watch and catch your hats. Then we passed the bridge by cars continuing our journey.
So, we continued our trip following the Route 66 from Nevada to Arizona. Well, it’s better to say we were trying to follow the path of historic route wherever possible but our advanced navigation apps several times recalculated directions to the quickest possible way which, of course, tended to push our way away from the way 66. Good thing was that we noticed it several times and could navigate our cars manually by looking on a map (an electronic map, to be precise, it is really nothing to do with these old-fashioned paper poster maps that span well over several hundred sq. feet if unfolded). As one might guess bad thing was that a few times we did not notice it being surprised how quickly we can drive on a highway. In result, our know-how that we obtained was the following — if one strictly follows the planed navigation path it’s fine but if one decides to make a turn away then one must correct everything manually. So, we ended up using the navigator map showing our desired path but not using the automatic navigation (i.e. without all those fancy voice commands “keep left”, “go straight”, “go right”, “take exit”, “turn around”, “turn around now!” all those kinds of sounds that otherwise in a miracle way come from somewhere on a right time when you need it and tell you were to drive).

So, we were on the Rout 66 that was going up and down and right and left presenting the best possible landscapes for every rider. It was interesting to see how all villages, inns, shops, coffee shops, every place was proud to stand by the Rte 66 and to be a part of the great history trying hard to preserve it. Old cars, old signs, proudness and happy people that was how we saw the Route 66. It certainly is not easy for the owners at least not for all but that’s a way it was. What a way! Our advice, if you have a time — go Route 66, if you are in a rush then it’s your own problem – you are free to choose new quicker highways (sorry, I do not remember their numbers but one can find them on any map).

Our main destination for this day was the Arizona Meteorite crater. Our team was the last on its way but since we skipped a little part of the Route 66 we somehow got in a lead. Suddenly it started to rain. Several lightning bolts stroked the sky. Does it supposed to rain in desert? We were rushing to the Crater to reach it at the day time. When we arrived at the crater it was not raining. We got a group ticket and went inside. At the beginning, we rushed in passing the exhibition to see the crater itself. The Arizona Crater, the Canyon Diablo crater, the Barringer crater, the Meteor crater (note that this last term is technically incorrect, it should have been called ‘meteorite crater’ instead) — these are all the names for this crater. Being more than km in diameter and 170 m in depth it has been formed almost 50 thousand years ago in a matter of seconds by a small asteroid impactor around 50 m in diameter.

Then we went inside to see exhibition. We watched the educational movie, took picture of the biggest Canyon Diablo meteorite piece (called Holsinger meteorite) weighting well over 600 kg. For most of us it was the first time to see meteorite crater so big by our own eyes.
After visit of the great meteorite crater we went a bit back to Flagstaff where our reserved motel was located. Tired and ready for the next day adventures. Yes, that’s us.

Laura adding to the story:
When I checked the internet tonight I noticed that there had been a storm in Latvia. This evening we caught a storm as well, that resembled a huge lid over the sky, where you could see a light in the distance with black strip over it, which told us of rain. After visiting all the sightseeing objects for the day our team went looking for an geocache. Near one of the caches we met two photographers, who where looking for “natural light sources” that is lightning, rainbows and other such natural phenomenon to capture them on photograph. It is mainly an hobby, but some of the pictures are being sold as well. One of the two is n professional photographer. 2 men with 3 cameras, each turned to a different direction. Sensors that react to light where attached to the cameras, as soon as light hits the sensor, for example, lightning, the camera takes a picture. It was explained to us that the sensors are quicker than lightning, so the pictures are taken. We where shown the freshly taken pictures of lightning, as well as their best pictures, that where posted on Facebook. It is interesting that whilst standing in the middle of an abandoned gas station the fields stretch very far and there is lightning in the distance, that flashes with some regularity in every direction, so you can only turn your head around. If in the morning around 7 o’clock in Las Vegas the temperature was already 37°C, and it rose to 44°C in the middle of the day than at the moment the displayed temperature was only 13°C. It is a huge difference that shocks the body. We where ready for this kind of cold only upon returning to Latvia.

Free day in Las Vegas

Laura writing:

This was the first free day of this trip, when we could do whatever we wanted all day long. Sleep, spend the morning swimming in the pool and a stroll through Las Vegas, without any hassle. We slept 30 minutes drive from Las Vegas, so we arrived in the city around 12:30 (other teams arrived at 10:00). Time in Las Vegas passes quickly. It was really hot outside with 44°C in the shade, so the sanctuaries are the impressive hotels. By the day the city does not look so spectacularly glamorous as in the evening. Musical fountains, American hill, artificial volcanic show, recreations of Venice and Paris, shark aquarium – a small part of the city. This is a town of fun and relaxation, in which it is important to stay with people “on the same wave”. Admittedly, it’s not possible to walk the main streets of Las Vegas within a day. Before going away, it was also necessary to play the machines that are on every corner and in all the colours of the rainbow. We put in $1 and while we did not know how to play, by the grace of pushing all the buttons in sight we won $41.59. Good luck and great fun. As we were already doing well, we decide to play again so we lost the next $2, but the satisfaction remained. We liked Las Vegas. Impressive and beautiful. We arrived at the motel after 1:00 at night. When we arrived at the hotel, we found out that our laundry, which we had left to be washed had been stolen. Our team now has a little lighter suitcases. We did not expect anything like this from the USA. Anyway, this will be a reason to replenish our suitcases in the next cities.

Deadly beautiful

Madara writing:

Without any particular expectation about the day, as it was just my second day on the tour, I woke up in Las Vegas motel and after morning deeds, trying to avoid cockroaches in my way, went to the car – deadly unresponsive Nissan Altima.
First signs of the deadly beautiful came as a road sign saying that the next place where basic services will be available will be after 72 miles. On our way temperature steadily rose from some 70 F to way above 100 F and we exchanged information available for each of team members on Death Valley – place holding the US records for hottest temperature – 134*F or 57*C while sitting in safe and cool shelter of a conditioned car, these were just numbers. Above us blue sky with no clouds, around us deserted flats with mountains in the backstage. Deadly promising.

Coming closer to Death Valley National Park, we noticed frost like icing on sand and tones from white palette here and there. Despite looking like ice, this was salt, left after massive evaporation of water. Sight I experienced for the first time in my life. Badwater – overwhelming salt flats – approached accompanied by Dave Matthews band singing “Don’t drink the water”. I along with my spouse left the cool shelter of car to meet the Badwater salt flats in person. Scenic, deadly hot and unusual place. Lacking the previous experience encountering extremely hot places like this, no ice water, even no water was taken along by us. Its close, short walk from car to the salt flats and back – how hard can it be? Leaving the car, hot air and wind met us first, then salt flats. We went for a while, along with other visitors, till the point where I felt it’s time for me to return. My husband together with other tour mates went further – till the furthest visible people in the flats. I spotted the park ranger returning to the visitor centre and turned around, to return alone, finding solace in the thought, that in case I will fall from my feet, ranger will evacuate me out of the salt flats. Way back to the car was harder than I expected, hot and salty wind bit my skin and I was reconsidering my decision to walk in salt flats. Last part of the walk I made thanks to Moisturising Mist on the open parts of the body and Ammoniac solution under my nose. Reaching the car was not the solution, as far as Air Condition, turned on by my team mates didn’t bring the cool relief I expected but just more hot air. Panic attack was ended by tour members from team 1, who had air conditioned car and ice water bottles. Deadly scary experience which made me deadly respectful regarding the place we were.

The rest of the Death Valley exploration went far smoother than Badwater. The nice detour through the narrow canyon – The Artists Drive was lively and exciting – each turn and sight after that came as a surprise, leading us to the Artists Palette – colourful sight with mountains and minerals colouring them, which explains the name given to the area. Zabriskie Point provided really spectacular views over the valley. Before arriving at the next point – Dantes view, we took one more nice detour through unpaved Twenty Mule Team Canyon – the dry flood water river. Spectacular Dantes view covers the stretch from the highest (Mt Whitney, 14 505 ft) and lowest (Badwater) points in the contiguous USA (as the Lonely Planet guide says). In all of the places – deadly hot. As furnace creek visitor centre thermometer told us – slightly above 122*F was the outside temperature. Because of it hiking trails, which should be beautiful in spring time, greeted us with with red road signs saying “STOP, Extreme Heat Danger, walking after 10 AM not recommended”. Deadly beautiful will be quintessential phrase for me, when describing Death Valley.

Leaving the Death Valley, our way led through Amargosa – small town (?) in the middle of nowhere, where we saw … Amargosa Opera house!!! No idea what it meant, but it made me curious – do they really perform operas here? Maybe Wagner would go well with these unforgiving landscapes? Will google it back home, when reminiscing the travel experience! Deadly curious!

Along Route 66 to Las Vegas

Daumants writing:

Today we did the planned trip from San Bernardino (part of the LA aglomeration) to the biggest city in Nevada – Las Vegas. In complete we drove more than 300 miles. Traveling mostly took part on the historic route 66. Unfortunately in the middle of our trip the route 66 was closed due to road repair.
Day started with wonderfully refreshing morning swim in one of the motels pools. Already in morning hours we were heated up by the hot south Californian sun. The morning rush in this morning wasn’t so harsh, so we had some time to chill at the motel. At last our group got ready and we went to one of the local cheapest gasoline stations to fill car empty gas tanks.
After we filled our car “stomachs” we straightly hit the route 66, which has lost its main title as the main connector between two coasts of mainland USA already for decades.
On the way to Las Vegas the air slowly heated up from quite bearable 32 degrees Celsius to 45 degrees! The route 66 gave joy to our eyes with beautiful landscapes, and old lovely country side houses. Besides, locals try to keep the road surroundings as they were 50 years ago with old cars, fences and houses.
And then in the evening we came to Las Vegas! What a marvelous city. And the climate is crazy hot, but for us northerners, hot nights is our cup of coffee. We love it!
See ya tomorrow!