03/10/2012 to 03/12/2012 Death Valley
After my marathon on Saturday, we headed back to the RV and relaxed.  Always
before, I would be rushing back to a hotel to try to squeeze in a shower before
either driving or flying back home, so it was very nice to be able to just shower
and chill.  We plotted our course to Reno, and decided it would be much more
fun to drive through Death Valley on our way.  Sunday we headed out early, and
tried to stop at Burger King for breakfast along the way.  WHAT?  We missed
breakfast?  Dang you daylight savings time change!  So after a very early lunch,
we arrived at Death Valley's first sight coming in on 190.  Zabriskie Point.  Looked
to me like what a giant's spit out chewing gum would look like.  
From there we proceeded on to the Furnace Creek Visitors Center
where we got maps and watched a video and tried to decide if we
could see it all and move on or if we needed to stay for the night.  
We decided we could see it all and move on.  First stop was the
Badwater Basin.  I probably would have skipped it, since it was
about 18 miles out of the way (and 18 miles back) and we were still
pulling the trailer (meaning 7 mpg), but I had to go see it because
this is where they run the
Badwater Ultramarathon - in JULY!!  It's a
135 mile run, and it gets up to 130 degrees.  Pretending I'm
running it is the closest I'll ever be!  Boy, I sure look good for
having just done 135 miles!  Whew!  Seriously though, we were
there for about 10 minutes, had walked maybe 1/4 mile, in early
March, and I was sweating.  How do they do it in JULY!?!
From Badwater we headed on, with the goal of reaching the Darwin Falls trail head on our way out of the park and taking the 1 mile hike to check it
out.  But first we stopped at the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells for a photo op.  I felt like we were in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or something.      
When we got to the Darwin Falls trail head, Richard expressed concern about the long, windy, hilly road ahead of us and the forthcoming darkness.  
Sure, fine, put our safety and wellbeing first why don't you.  So we skipped Darwin Falls and took the roller coaster road up 190 and out of Death
Valley.  We only had to stop once to let the truck cool down, and our brakes only got hot and squishy once.  What's the big deal?  
As we finally approached Lone Pine, the craziest clouds showed up.  Why are we cursed with clouds and bad weather?
It was dark, we were tired.  Just wanted to pull over and go to bed.  (It was only 7:30, but we had just left Mountain time AND Daylight savings
change, so our clocks were on 9:30 time.)  But Californians don't like Walmarts.  Come on California.  Where are we supposed to park the RV for
the night?  After passing through many small towns, we finally decided to try our luck in the RiteAid parking lot in Bishop, CA.  Big signs in the
parking lot announced that it was only for customers of Bishop Plaza and any unauthorized vehicles would be towed.  
Well, we needed toothpaste, so I went in
and spent some money at RiteAid.  I told
myself we were now "authorized" but it
didn't help.  I couldn't sleep.  I was so
stressed that a cop would knock on our
door and tell us to leave, or worse we
would wake up with a ticket for parking
there, or even worse, we would wake up
rolling down the road, being towed
somewhere.  I think I finally fell asleep
around 1:30 AM, only to be woken up at
5:30 to the sound of a leaf blower.  There
was a guy leaf-blowing the sidewalk at
5:30 AM.  That did it.  Off we went.  We
cruised through some beautiful scenery
when it was too dark to see, but still
enjoyed the drive.  Once it started
becoming daylight though, I got
concerned.  What's all that white stuff.  
Are we heading north too early??  Nah,
this is March.  It's almost Spring.
After stopping for breakfast, we stopped at Mono Lake, famous for the formations that grow out of the lake from mineral deposits coming out of
springs under the lake.  The pic isn't that great cause we took it into the sun, but if you look close, you will see that I am all bundled up, but Richard is
in short sleeves.  It was probably 36 degrees and windy.  Richard is refusing to believe that it is cold.  While he pretends, the formations can be seen
in the lake behind us.  I think they are supposed to have spring water coming out of them, but the springs were probably FROZEN!  
The rest of the trip into Reno was uneventful. We
stayed right downtown in a decent park.  It was just
about a block to Adam's house and to Adam's
restaurant so we felt pretty centrally located.   
Since we arrived on a Monday, it was Adam's day
off, so we got to spend some time with him before
going with him to pick up Evan from school and
hanging out at Adam's house all evening.