California – Hot and Cold

Entering California

Death Valley, California – the sublime….

Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location (36° 15′ N 116° 49.5′ W) of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet (86.0 m) below sea level. This point is only 84.6 miles (136.2 km) ESE of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). Death Valley holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere, 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913—just short of the world record, 136 °F (57.8 °C) in Al ‘Aziziyah, Libya, on September 13, 1922. However, the record high still remains the hottest July temperature ever recorded.

Located near the border of California and Nevada, in the Great Basin, east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Death Valley constitutes much of Death Valley National Park and is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve. It is located mostly in Inyo County, California. It runs from north to south between the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west; the Sylvania Mountains and the Owlshead Mountains from its northern and southern boundaries, respectively. It has an area of about 3,000 sq mi (7,800 km2).

Riding through Death Valley, CA

To the ridiculous….

We had always wanted to sail into the Pacific but that doesn´t look likely now. So it was with a great sense of anticipation and excitement that we approached the coast of California. As we got closer, it actually got colder and greyer than I would have believed possible in California in July!.

Our response to our first ever sight of the Pacific Ocean – well, it could have been Grimsby on a miserable winter´s day! And it really didn´t improve all the way up to the next state of Oregon. The plan had been to ride all the way up the state on the Pacific Coast Highway – said to be one of the most beautiful roads in the world. But following two days of difficult riding conditions and constant shivering and struggling with fogged-up visors, we decided to head back inland at Napa Valley. Beyond Death Valley and Yosemite, sadly, California was a big let down. It was quite an expensive place to be too – motels, food, drink, gas – all cost a fair amount more than anywhere else we have traveled.

The best memory I have – and it would be wonderful to see them in the sunshine – were the giant redwoods. And yes, we got to ride through one of the trees. It was the Chandelier Tree, located 175 miles north of San Francisco at the junction of US 101 and Pacific Coast Highway 1, in the tiny hamlet of Leggett known worldwide as the home of the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree.

The opening in the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree was carved in the 1930’s. At approximately 6′ wide by 6’9″ high there is ample space for the cars of today to pass through the tunnel.

The Chandelier Tree derives its name from the enormous branches balanced on either side of the trunk. These branches, which are the size of small trees, begin about a hundred feet up the trunk.

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