By the time we made it into Death Valley, it was already 109 degrees with heat index of 120+. We have no AC, little-to-no insulation in the floor to keep the motor's heat from getting into the cab, and the wind alone burned our eyes with every gust. So yeah, it was hot.
A couple of hours into the valley, I noticed the engine was running a little on the hot side. We pulled off to let it cool and I put in more coolant fluid, leaving the engine idle. After about 20 minutes of making sure everything was good, we got back on the road feeling confident. Thinking we might have dodged a bullet, we started talking about our next destination once we were almost out of Death Valley. By this time, the weather was at peak heat for the day and we were looking forward to nightfall. Yet, we still had quite a few hours before that. Just over 60 miles outside Las Vegas in the desert, on the outskirts of Death Valley, a sudden loud noise began clacking each time I pressed the accelerator. That noise, we came to learn, was the sound of our engine calling it quits. It was at this point we knew the next 18 hours were going to be interesting.
Heat waves emitted in every direction with the remaining hours of sunlight. With no one else around to help, it was time to get under the hood to try and see if there was anything I could fix to make it at least to Vegas. After taking everything out from under the hood and then putting it all back in, I realized there was nothing we could do. I would be needing to get a whole new motor.
Since we knew the truck wouldn't even limp out of the desert, we needed to get service and find a tow truck to get us out of there somehow. Able to have one bar of service, we made calls to line up a tow. Nothing seemed promising. The reality set in that it was going to be an all nighter with still no sign of getting help until the morning.
So, as with situations like these, you just have to make the best of it and roll on! That night, the stars came out to show us that we were far from alone. Even though we were trapped in the middle of Death Valley, I wouldn't have wanted to look at any other night sky than the one we sat under.
The next day we were able to make it out after multiple no-shows with tow companies. Later that day, we finally made it out and reluctantly headed to the one place we were trying to avoid: Vegas.
We were two dirty dudes with a dog checking into a Las Vegas casino hotel by the end of the day. Not what we had in mind. We went from being trapped in Death Valley's heat waves to sippin' margaritas in the roof top pool of a Las Vegas Casino Hotel.
Crazy what can happen in 24 hours!