Day 1: We took our time packing the van and lazily set off on our journey to the hottest place on earth. Death Valley certainly earns it’s name and reputation - it’s not hard to image a fiery end if you spent enough time out here. The sun was setting as we drove past the sand dunes and into the sweltering heart of the desert. We drove through the Stovepipe Wells and into Furnace Creek, villages with names serving as warnings; though little could prepare us for the intensity of Death Valley’s searing temperatures.
Day 2: Our plan to beat the heat by starting our day at sunrise slipped silently past us as we slept peacefully through our alarm. The desert ranges and salt flats were stunning nonetheless, but by the time we got to Badwater it felt like we might spontaneously combust. After only a few hours our need for shelter and coffee had us hitting the road again, towards the cool relief of the mountains.
We spent that night in Mammoth Lakes, a picturesque ski village surrounded by forest and mountain ranges. Literally burnt out from our morning in the inferno, we ordered in pizza and passed out early and easily.
Day 3: We woke early to a more successful alarm and started our drive into Yosemite. It was warmer than we’d expected, and we spent the day swimming in lakes and streams and exploring; completely in awe and soaking in as much of nature as we could manage, knowing we were heading back to the city the next day. We left in the evening, towards our final hotel in El Portal. We were greeted with a kitschy wood cabin village vibe, lit up by string lights with an americana diner and multiple bear statues. A perfect place and way to spend our last night - with a dip in the pool, dinner in the diner and drinks by the river.
Day 4: It was still dark as we packed the van and set off, winding slowly through forest. We’d done enough driving to last us a month and had almost as much sun. One last stop for coffee and we headed sleepily back towards the city.