day 180
mojave desert

"Come on, Mel. If you make it, we'll even get you Mid-Grade." -a.
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Less is Mo':
Town: Mojave
Gas: 1.49/gal
Industries: Airplane Manufacturing Plant, Something else that smells like sulphur, could very well be a sulphur mine but that's just speculation.

Claim to Fame: We just thought it fitting that on the day that we almost, seriously almost, ran out of gas, we encounter the hometown of the Voyager.

For those of you who don't recognize it, it's the plane that made it around the world on a single tank of fuel. If only Mel could be so lucky!

Area 52
Long Time, No Plan:
We sure didn't think it was going to take this long to traverse America, but we should have!

A pattern appears to be occuring in our lives. Whenever we take a trip it tends to be 2-3 times longer than we originally expected. We had budgeted 3 months for this one. It's taken six so far, probably seven by the time we're done. Our trip to Europe two years ago started as a five-week jaunt, but after three days, we extended it to eleven.

Now, some of you may be wondering how long we're going to be in Australia after this if we're only planning on one year...I guess we'll let time tell the tale.

Happy Six Months!

Hotter Than Mojave In My Hood
Feb 22 - There's a lot of pressure on the navigator. They're the ones who get blamed for getting off-course when the driver was actually just comatosely following the car ahead of him. Basically, navigators are the stool pigeons of the road.

Most of the time, my navigation is perfect. I have successfully guided us
Kevin's Note:
Ask her about Norfolk, Virginia.
through the driving hells of Pheonix, Detroit and Miami. I always give plenty of warning about the next road we're looking for, although when I ask Kev two minutes later which highway number we're looking for, it's disappeared from his short-term memory. But all in all, considering what I'm dealing with, my record is pretty darn clean.

From what I can tell, the luck fairies must have an ironic streak because they chose Death Valley as the location of my biggest futz-up ever. Let's take a jump back in time so that you can experience it as well...

It's 8 am. We're worried. About gas. Last night, due solely to
Kevin's Note:
My cheapness was valid. Would you pay 1.96/gal for regular gas? Outside of Washington Heights, I mean.
cheapness (if you're been following the trip, cheapness plays a major role in our decision-making), we've stupidly left civilization with our gas tank on close-to-empty. This means the light is on, but we still have a bit of gas in the tank. We were able to make it to our campground, but now it's the morning and we're seeing things in a new, gasless light.

It's 45 miles to the next town. We're in the middle of the hottest part of the country. Yesterday we attended a lecture on all the different ways one can die in this valley. This is one of them. I'm sure running out of gas due to cheapness and dying of heat stroke will win us a coveted place in the Darwin Awards Hall of Fame.

Best case scenario, we've got a chance of getting at least within walking distance of a town. Or getting close enough to use the cell. Our worry level is a mere eight out of ten. (Pay attention now, the moment of my mistake is drawing near...)

I quickly looked at my map, thinking that there really could be only one way out of the campground and straight to the town of gas. Is this the way? Why, of course it's the way! My map says there's only one way! Go for it!

Kev, having such complete faith in my navigational skills at this point, takes me at my word. He trusts me so much in fact, that even after going 30 miles on a dirt road that's gutted and
Kevin's Note:
This is untrue. My belief level at this point was a mere six out of ten, and falling more rapidly than Nortel stock.
strewn with rocks, he still believes me. I, however, do not believe me. I take another look at the map and realize my shocking mistake: I was looking at a folded map and we were now travelling along the crease of the map. As Mel bounced along the crease, our desired road was actually in the other direction. Holy Frickin' Frack!

Normally, this would be a minor annoyance. After travelling for so long, we're no stranger to using the U-turn to adjust our coordinates. However, we are usually not on empty and even less usually in Death Valley.

This small error in navigation had taken us up 4000 ft and 30 miles into the mountains surrounding Death Valley.
Dear Fraser,
If only we'd listened to you and got a GPS, this wouldn't have happened.
Our only choice for returning was to coast, coast, coast! By the way, is it bad for the car to drive down a steep incline on a dirt road at 80 km/h in Neutral? In any case, we survived. By the time we coasted back down to the campground, we'd already travelled further than we would have if we'd made it to the first town.

Our moods were, how shall I say, varied? Kev was taking the silent approach and I was taking the higher moral ground of blamelessness. For the next half hour, neither one of us spoke. Not out of anger (I think), but because we were using all of our willpower to help guide Mel along the road. Our thoughts must have converted themselves into gas fumes because we actually made it to that town!

Apparently Mel must have had a spare gas tank installed at some point, predicting the stupidity of his owners well in advance. We filled him up with five bucks of Mid-Grade. The light was still on as we pulled out. Cheapness rides again!


The Road Ahead

Scenery to the Left

Scenery to the Right

The Last Big Hill
more photos in the archive...

Current Location
(get out your push pins)

Mojave Desert

Next Stop: Los Angeles

see the full map...

Today's Weather:
Hotter than Hell (or maybe it just is Hell)

Daily Stats
Wrong Road:12.5km
Distance on E:95.4km

Total Distance:473.0km

Wildrose (Death Valley)
Kevin:Apple Oatmeal
Aimee:Honey Nut Oatmeal
Texaco Station
Trona, CA
Shared:Nachos, Juice

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© 2002. Kevin Beimers and Aimee Lingman. All I wanna do is have a little fun before I die.