And the road trip begins…
The first stop to the trip was Yosemite National Park. This park was surrounded with complete beauty. Yosemite National Park is mainly known for waterfalls however around the waterfalls there are tranquil square miles of meadows and wilderness areas and is highly known for its ancient Sequoia trees. As soon as we got to the park we took a quick service stop as we had been travelling for 3 hours. We went to the first stop in the park and parked our van before walking to the waterfall. The first waterfall we saw was Bridalveil Fall followed by Horsetail Fall. The scene was unbelievable! Sometimes you wonder how is it all made! We decided to try and get as close to the waterfall and capture the beauty. We climbed through the pile of many rocks – some which were not even stable but we got half way and took some great photos. Even though it was just turning into the early afternoon, the weather was scorching hot and we were not able to stay there for long and so we headed off back to the van. We then drove a little bit further in the park and reached the natural rock formations – El Capitan and Half Dome. These rock formations are one of the largest pieces of granite in the world. After seeing these formations, we then travelled to Tunnel View where you can see the whole view of the park. It frames the Yosemite Valley, El Capitan standing tall on the left, Half Dome in the centre of the view, and Bridalveil Fall to the right. Lastly, at Yosemite National Park we got to an alpine lake which is between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows. The surprising thing was that we had planned to move on in our journey but we stumbled upon Tenaya Lake also known as the alpine lake. After a 4 hour drive from Tenaya Lake, we arrived at The Village Lodge to our over night accommodation. Once we checked in, it was time for dinner and so we had some yummy pizza at one of the restaurants at the lodge before heading over to sleep to be ready for our next destination ahead.
Day 4 started with an early start before heading to the melting 50 degree climate 0f the famous Death Valley National Park. It is located in the northern Mojave Desert bordering the Great Basin Desert and it has the lowest point of elevation in the USA – Badwater Basin. The journey to Death Valley National Park is very long and so we had to stop over for an over night stay in a little lodge called Panamint Springs Resort which was completely isolated and had limited water supply and limited source power for a fan that barley turned around! But it was worth the experience living in a lodge which is in the middle of nowhere. As it was hot during the afternoon, everyone decided to take a nap until just before sunset. At around 6pm we had a quick bite to eat and as it got dark, the views of the night sky turned into the most magical view I had ever seen. We sat outside under the mystic sky till very late enjoying the magical view. It definitely isn’t something you get to see everyday and definitely not in London and so for us the experience to see the stars glowing in the pitch dark in an isolated area was phenomenal. I am sure I saw a shooting star as well and as a norm I had to make a wish! We chatted about how beautiful the world is and reflected back on how amazing the road trip has been so far! I must say this was my favourite night as we all spent a lot of time together under a mesmerising view. This memory will always be remembered!
(Day 5) – according to our route map, our first journey was to head towards Mosaic Canyon just outside of Death Valley. This was about a 45 minute drive from the Panamint lodge. It is located in Stovepipe Wells Village just across from Stovepipe Wells Campground. We arrived and parked on the large gravel parking area. From the parking area, we walked up the gravel path into the Canyon. It was only 9:30am and the heat of the Death Valley was soaring and we were already feeling the heat. The Canyon abruptly narrows into smooth marble walls so beautifully polished by flash floods that shaped it several years ago. Along side you get to see the mosaic formation of rocks. This is made out of tiny fragments of various types of rocks naturally cemented together. We took plenty of close up shots of the naturally polished marble and the mosaic rocks. We walked further inwards for about an hour before everyone started getting restless from the fast rising temperature. The heat was very dry and became unbearable and got us dripping in sweat. At this point, I understood why it is called Death Valley.
From here, our next stop on route was the sand dunes of Death Valley. By the time we reached there it was approaching noon and the temperature now was almost close to 45 showing on the van dash board. We couldn’t stay out in the sun for long otherwise we would have been dry roasted! So we took quick group photos before running back into the van to the cool AC. Even the AC in the van struggled to cool the heat down. We drove slowly to keep the engine cool and headed towards our next destination called the Badwater Basin which is the lowest point below sea level in the USA. On reaching Badwater, only some us came out the van as for some the heat had already got them. Headache and nausea are typical signs of dehydration from the extreme heat.
On opening the van doors, the gush of extreme heat could be felt. Within few seconds, the body felt it and so to keep hydrated, we drank lots of water before walking over to the basin floor. The basin floor was so bright from the reflection of sun light that we struggled to keep the eyes open. We took several snaps of the natural beauty and quickly headed back to van. It was hardly possible to stand outside for more than 15 minutes without dripping in sweat and having an urge for water but it was a delightful experience to go to the lowest point in North America which is a depth of 282 ft below sea level.
The next destination on the road trip is a very popular destination and is well known for the saying:
“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”