The day started between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. for the riders. Jim & Amelia drove from Westwood to the North Orange County area to get Jennie & Cliff. We were on the road for real by 7 a.m. We were well stocked with munchies and music, and we listened to Erasure's "Abba-esque" as we high-tailed it through Claremont on our way to the high desert. About 2 hours later, we found ourselves at a rest stop on I-15. We pulled out the unicycles for a little warm-up. We got some strange looks from the other travellers, but at least no one asked, "Where's your other wheel?" We piled back into the car, and soon arrived in Baker, the Gateway to Death Valley, and "Home of the World's Tallest Thermometer." We stopped to take some, uh, compromising pictures, and also to get milkshakes at the Mad Greek. We drove through the desert, alluvial fans, and mountains, and we finally made our descent into Death Valley.
After about an hour of driving within the park boundaries, we reached Badwater. A quick check of the regulatory signs revealed no unicycle bans (bicycles were not banned either), so out came the unis. We unicycled in the parking areas, setting a new "lowest elevation ride" record that would be broken several more times in the next hour and a half. We descended the stairs to the lake bed and posed for pictures at the Badwater sign, which is incorrectly labeled at -282 feet; the sign's elevation is actually -279 feet, and the lowest elevation is 3 or 4 miles out on the salt flat. Cliff, Jennie, and Jim started to ride out onto the salt flat, and Amelia followed with a video camera. During the ride, records were also set for the lowest uni tag game, uni frisbee game, and unicycle dancing. We unicycled out as far as the most zealous of the pedestrians tread, and we marvelled at the salt & the New Agers communing with the Mu-Suvians (an ancient race of extra-terrestrials whose main base on Earth is located beneath the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park). Cliff & Jim attempted to ride to the other side of the salt flat, while Amelia & Jennie remained in the vicinity and practiced more unicycling. The trans-salt flat attempt proved to be more difficult and environmentally destructive than anticipated, and Jim and Cliff returned after about 20 minutes. We then returned to the parking lot, and Jim & Cliff attempted some mountain unicycling at the base of a cliff across the road.
We got back into the car & spent the rest of the day sight-seeing.
Jim took his unicycle along on a short hike and unicycled the 3/4 mile
back to the car in rocky terrain. On the way back to L.A., we stopped
for dinner at the Baker Denny's, and then stargazed for a few minutes
on Zzyzx Road. We arrived back in Orange County around 10:30 p.m.,
about 16 hours after we'd started. It was quite a long day, but well
worth it. Next stop, the Dead Sea!