Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 1: How Hot is Hot?

117 degrees.
That's how hot it is. Outside.
We're in our (air-conditioned) motor home, driving though Death
Valley, CA, in September because we want to see how hot hot is. We
giggle. It's a novelty.
By the time we park and get out, the temperature drops substantially.
To 111.
Not bad. I can breathe. And walk around without breaking a sweat. OK.
This is fun, I think, as the air conditioning from the motor home
lingers on my skin.
We've already decided to buy into a campsite with full hookups (water
and electricity) because the dogs suffer terribly in the heat. (wink
wink.) But we're so concerned about availability (only 14 sites with
hookups in the whole park) we pray about it. We ask God to make a site
available. For the dogs ... you know.
When we inquire for a site at the visitor's center, I'm surprised no
one snickers. Because God made nearly all of the sites available.
Hmmmm. We set up camp. It's 4 p.m. Only one other camper shares our
sense of adventure. There are 188 empty sites.
While Allen plugs in all the utilities, I walk the dogs. We go about
100 yards and I feel the situation change. This heat is no longer a
curiosity. It's real. It's serious. The dogs seem fine. Not even
panting. But I begin to feel hot. Not close, not sweltering. Hugely hot.
We turn back, where I find Otto's metal door handle so hot, it nearly
burns my hand as I touch it. Once inside, I notice my shirt and pants
feel clothes-dryer hot, so I shed the outer layers, quickly. And the
air inside is hot: 90 degrees in the front and 85 in the back. Even
though Allen cranked up the air conditioner 30 minutes ago.
This isn't fun anymore. This is serious. Oh, we aren't going to die or
suffer from heat stroke. Not that kind of serious. Serious in that we
need to pay attention to how we live, so the dogs don't burn their
feet on the ground outside (which Allen read can reach temperatures
above 200) so we don't burn our hands on hot metal or become parched.
I'm beginning to understand why it's called Death Valley.
To survive the heat and enjoy our stay, we need to reverse ourselves,
to live at night and sleep during the day. We nap at 6 (the metal
frame on one side of the bed is as hot as the front door! We use a
pillow as a heat shield.) Awake at 10 p.m. Walk the dogs. Easier. Much
easier. Even though it's 101 degrees. At 10 p.m. There's no sun
belting down on us. The ground is cooler. We watch for coyotes.
We eat dinner at 11 (using the microwave, not stove burners) and it's
now midnight. We need to stay up until the sun shines; but I don't
think we'll make it. We're finally cool (the air conditioning is still
cranked up) but we're tired. We make plans to use our awning
tomorrow to keep the door and bedroom wall from melting. And to shade
the ground for the dogs' feet.
Maybe we'll sit outside under that awning and eat ice cream. If it's
not too hot.


Celeste Geist said...

oh goodness, Nancy, I was sweating as I read your spot. How you can have this dedicated interest in such an uncomfortable place is beyond me. How long did you last, another day then did you leave? It was scary for me just to read this!

Julie and Lisa said...

Glad you all survived! Did you get to Scotty's Castle?