May 10, 2012 - From San Francisco, we went to Big Pine, CA, as a first stop to Death Valley and Vegas. Between Big Pine and Lone Pine, Lone Pine is the place to stay, as Big Pine is a wide spot on the road with no functioning restaurants, three gas stations and a convenience store. We bought some food in the convenience store and later Jan went back to buy a frozen pizza, in the hope we had a microwave in the room.
The motel owner very kindly warmed the thing up in her oven. The next day was a leisurely ride to Death Valley and Vegas. I'd never dropped into Death Valley from Lone Pine so this was a nice change from the Ridgecrest/Trona or Vegas routes. Gradually the temperature increased as we descended.
There were a few new lookout points as well along the way.
We didn't do a whole lot in Death Valley except ride to Furnance Creek, flee into the restaurant and order lunch. After quaffing five glasses of water, I felt human again. A few days ago we were freezing on Sonora Pass and now we were faced with the opposite extreme. This ride ranked an 8 out of 10 in terms of heat, runner up to riding along the Dead Sea in summer time on the Jordanian side and crossing the desert in Iran mid-summer. In Iran my handlebar grip glue let go and the grips spun around. Made it challenging to keep the speed up...
We skipped Dante's View but instead circled through Artist's Drive.
Vegas is just Vegas. Not much changes except the levels of collective insanity seem to increase every time I come here. There is not much here but people acting out of character, or worse, people in character. It's a cheapish place to cool our heels for a few days, catch up on websites, emails and to-do lists. We've discovered that some things in the world do get better, such as McDonalds coffee, now certainly better than Starbucks, especially the lattés. Since I wanted to make sure Jan would get a taste of America true and proper, we went off to Denny's, only to be disappointed. They now have healthy "build your meal" choices and lean cuisine. We had an excellent fish-based meal the other night and will be back for more. The portion sizes are also much more reasonable versus the mountains of food you get elsewhere.
The first time I stayed in Vegas, in 1982, we stayed at Circus Circus, then a novelty, now an also-ran casino and hotel. Still, the rooms are large and very well appointed, so it was an easy choice given the prices are very reasonable.
The Bellagio is the new darling in Vegas, despite the other and newer Wynn developments.
Next we're off to Grand Canyon and beyond.