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  • Death Valley at 117º F

    Looking at this image it’s impossible to tell that it’s 117º F outside. Yet if you had been in the hotel room when I placed my bare foot on the threshold of the door to the balcony, you would have seen me jump and yell because of the hot metal. Shoes are a must outdoors in this heat.

    Driving here in a modern car allowed me to enjoy the scenery without noticing that the temperature had been steadily rising from 80º F in Lone Pine to what it is now at the aptly named Furnace Creek. I feel lucky because the weather prediction a few days ago had been for 126º F. A few clouds rolled in to keep down the heat. 

    You might think that the only reason to come to Death Valley in July is to prepare for global climate change. That might be a great reason, but for me Death Valley is a stop on the way from Mammoth Lakes to Bryce Canyon. I could have motored through, but I was curious to experience what it feels like to be in a burning hot place. I found that standing in the naturally heated, spring fed pool is key to survival. And so is having an air conditioned room.

  • Why Do Humans Need Water?

    I've been blogging about water for almost a year, saying how important it is for people to have clean, disease-free water. Why?

    Water makes up most of the human body. The brain alone is about 70% water, so we need water to think. Water is responsible for cushioning our joints, removing waster, and regulating our body temperature through sweating.

    Without water, we dehydrate. The core body temperature rises. Your muscles lose their ability to contract. The blood volume decreases. Blood gets thicker. Heart rate increases, as does blood pressure.

    If you want to get an idea of what it is like to be without water—to be dying of thirst—read Death Valley in '49. These pioneers got lost in Death Valley and suffered greatly. Their quest for food and water is no different from millions of people in developing countries today.

    Death Valley in '49, by William Lewis Manley is available through Project Gutenberg. This is an excerpt.

    " ...our mouths became so dry we had to put a bullet or a small smooth stone in and chew it and turn it around with the tongue to induce a flow of saliva. If we saw a spear of green grass on the north side of a rock, it was quickly pulled and eaten to obtain the little moisture it contained.

    Thus we traveled along for hours, never speaking, for we found it much better for our thirst to keep our mouths closed as much as possible, and prevent the evaporation. The dry air of that region took up water as a sponge does. "