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We travelled from Las Vegas without air-conditioning and arrived in Death Valley National Park. First stop was Dantes' Peak, where the temperature was a lot cooler than the 120F in Furnace Creek at 7.30pm. After a much needed cold beer in the local saloon, we found a place to camp. It has been the only place where the water came out of the ground taps piping hot. A luxury in one regard but also a reflection of how hot this place is It was always going to be a hot night - a strong wind helped keep the air circulating but it felt like we were we were being blasted by a hot hair dryer. Clearly our neighbour found it too hot to sleep in his van.

The following day we visited Mesquite Sand Dunes, Badlands, Artists Palette, the Devil's Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells and Bad Water, which is 282ft below sea-level. The lowest place in the USA. Everywhere was covered in salt and it was amazing to see life out in the desert.

From Death Valley we headed for Victorville, thinking this would be a good stop-over before heading into Los Angeles. Sadly the Roy Rogers' museum had moved several states north back in 2003 - must update the guide book.

We had a great week in Long Beach, did a quick tour of downtown LA, some kiting and cycling, then we moved up to Santa Monica to spend time with family.

Another great few days before heading north along the Pacific Highway, past Malibu, Morro Bay, Hearst Castle, Elephant Seal Beach, Big Sur and Carmel.

Arrived in San Francisco early evening and joined a friend at Crissy Field. Declan managed to get a great kite in, despite the gusty winds, with Obama flying past in his helicopter.

Next day, onto Benicia, a quick catch up with old colleagues and then a night in Lassen Forest before heading into Lassen Volcanic National Park - amazed to see snow in California in June. Managed to walk up Cinder Cone - quite a challenge as it was steep and one step forward was followed by one back. The walk down was much quicker, and easier.


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