It was 104 years ago on this date that the all-time highest temperature on earth was recorded at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. That day the mercury soared to a sweltering 134 degrees F. That record still stands to this day, but on one of our trips through Death Valley a few years ago it was pushing that record. While the official high came up a couple degrees short of a record, I can assure that 131 degrees is still pretty hot. It was also the day that we learned the thermometer on the dashboard of our car only goes to 122. I guess Toyota thought that would have been enough.
We were returning to Las Vegas from Tonopah, NV and when we heard that the forecast for Furnace Creek may tie or break the all-time record, we decided a short detour through Death Valley would be worth the stop. The digital thermometer outside of the park’s visitor center is always a popular photo stop, but on this day it seemed that everyone brave enough (or stupid enough depending on your point of view) to endure the heat wanted a photo. It also brought out national and local news crews to cover the story, including CNN. It also brought out someone in a full Darth Vader outfit that we passed jogging along the road in the extreme heat. And of course there were the dozens of eggs littering the sidewalk from everyone who had wanted to see if it was literally hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.
The only time we spent outside that day was the time it took us to walk from our parking spot to the line for the photo opportunity, the several minute wait for our turn, and the walk back to our air-conditioned car. After that we were back on the road to Las Vegas, keeping an eye out for the possibility of seeing Darth Vader’s body lying along the road.
Death Valley, California July 2013