Friday, July 11, 2008

Fall 2006 and Death Valley

It is time for rolling out the old motorhome.
Because of my cataract operation on my left eye, and problems with my left heel, we only went for the monthly outings with the Convair Camping Club and the Shanty Shakers.
The Convair Camping Club had their June outing at Goajome County Park.
One evening we went to the Home Town Buffet. This was different. The women enjoyed that, no cooking for a pot luck.
In July we had a super picnic at Jon and Linda's backyard. Jon cooked ribs, his ribs were as good as in the restaurants which specialize in spare ribs.

August found the Convair Campers at Marie Callender's. With the extreme heat finally moved out of the San Diego area, we had our September outing at Dos Picos County Park. Richard (Chappy) Chapman and Dottie came for their first outing with the club. We hope they liked it and join the group.

We had a good time with the Shanty Shakers at the Jojoba Resort near Aguanga. It was the Labor Day weekend and still very hot.

We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool and the resorts library. We had to run the air conditioner in the motorhome all day.

Jojoba is an Escapee resort. The Shanty Shakers are the Southern California chapter of the Escapees.

We left the house at 5:45 AM. After driving two miles we turned around. Doreen had left her cell phone in her car. This was a good start.
It took only a few minutes and we were on our way again. When we were a few miles north of Oceanside the motorhome went on strike.
I was able to roll on the shoulder. We were in the Camp Pentleton Marine Corps area, not very far from Red Beach where we spent the 4th of July weekend. In a previous trip report I had said that the base is on the Atlantic. I did not catch this mistake, but a good friend made me aware of this.
While I was trying to start the engine again I wished I was camping at Red Beach.
I called The Good Sam Club. Since it was Saturday, it took them one hour to find a mobile mechanic service. Then it took the mechanic 45 minutes to get to us. He had a big truck filled with tools.
After playing with different things he gave up. He wanted to exchange the alternator. I told him that I have five batteries and they are all charged.
To prove my point I showed him the solar panel control panel. All batteries were
13.2 volts. He had me run the generator and hooked up jumper cables to his truck. The engine turned slowly but would not fire.
I called Good Sam again and they told me they would have me towed to a repair facility. It took a long time again to get a big tow truck.
In the meantime I told Doreen to go home. I removed the car from the motorhome and Doreen took off. A few minute later she called me and told me about the accidents on I-5. She was stuck for a while. So was the tow truck driver.
He finally came and towed the motorhome to the motorhome storage area in our park.

The sick motorhome was moved to Gary's RV service. The cost was $167.00. Good Sam pays only one time. I could not find a RV service on Saturday.
At 10:00 AM I got a call that the computer module has to be replaced. At 2:00 PM the second call tells me that the catalitic converter is bad.
At 4:00 PM we went to take a look at the motorhome. When we arrived the motorhome arrived too. The mechanic from the muffler shop told Gary that it runs now like a Ferrari.
The mechanic still was not happy with the starter. They asked me whether
it always sounded like that when I started the engine. I told them that it did and that I used all the batteries sometimes. I had enough from Saturday and do not want to stand on a noisy road again for eight hours. So I told them to exchange the starter.

The motorhome was ready at 10:00 AM. But we were not. Doreen had a Atrial-Fibrillation attack. Her pulse was sky high and she had to take a pill and go back to bed. I had planned on bringing the motorhome over night to the Elks Lodge in Oceanside, since I could not bring it home.
The street where we live was resurfaced today. And everybody had to leave their car outside the gate.
I changed my mind though and put the motorhome with the cars. Doreen was still sleeping at 11:00 AM. I left her a note and told her that I was at the motorhome putting everything back in its proper place.
At 1:00 PM I get a telephone call from her. She told me she would come down to the motorhome. I told her to stay at the house because it would not do her any good walking up the hill again, going home. Then she told me that she was ready to go on the trip.
That was good news. I was surprised.
We left at 1:45 PM and arrived at the Tejon Pass Rest area at 4:00 PM and had dinner there. Our neighbors at the rest area was an older couple with
a brand new Lazy Daze motorhome. I talked to them and the both were happy and smiling. They had picked up the motorhome at the factory in Pomona and had put the first 100 miles on the rig. They invited us inside and showed us the layout and their furniture.
This was their first night in the motorhome and they spent it at a rest area.
We moved on and stopped at the next rest area. I was very tired, the drive through Los Angeles is not easy in late afternoon.
We stayed there for the night. On that stretch of I-5 are not many RV Parks. We watched "Dancing with the stars" on the new 20 inch LCD television. I finally broke down and bought this set. I had looked at it for a year and the price had come down recently.
I had no problem falling asleep, but Doreen counted trucks coming and going.
In the morning we both slept late. We had breakfast and left at 7:00 AM. At 10:00 AM Doreen had a hunger for pan cakes. We stopped at a rest area and made pancakes with fruit cocktail.
The driving through the San Joaquin Valley was tiring. I had to have both hands on the steering wheel. The wind was pushing hard and it lasted for hours.
I was glad when we arrived at highway 20, going west towards highway 101. The drive to Clearlake was pleasant and the scenery is always beautiful.
Normally we take highway 101 from Los Angeles. Since we had motorhome problems and lost time, we tried to make it up by taking I-5 all the way up to Williams. It did not work out though. The wind was so strong that we drove sometimes at 50 miles per hour.
Not taking highway 101 also changed our itinerary. We did not visit friends in King City and Doreen's relatives in Walnut Creek.
We arrived at the Clearlake Elks at 4:00 PM.

At 6:00 AM we were on the road. It was still dark and we were not able to enjoy the view over the beautiful lake. Later on, going north on highway 101, we took in the sights of the fall colors. The trees are decked in gold and red colors.
After setting up the motorhome at the Eureka Elks, we went to see the grand children. Nobody was home, so I was able to set up the doll house, and surprise Nicolette. We had bought the doll house in Redding, on our last trip. I had to fix it, paint it, and change the electrical system.
Claudia came home, and after a while she went to pick up Jacob from preschool and Nicolette from kindergarten. Nicolette started playing right away with the doll house, and Jacob with his new jeep. Nicolette had her birthday on the 10th and Jacob will be three years old on November 3rd. We celebrated Nicolette's birthday late and Jacobs early.
Claudia has work for me tomorrow, to install a small faucet and a light switch. Tomorrow night, the four of us will go to a Halloween party at the Elks Lodge. There will be Baby Back Ribs for dinner and dancing after the meal.

10-27-06 through 10-30-06
We are enjoying the grandchildren. Saturday we went with Scott, Claudia and the children to the Pumpkin Patch. A tractor with a wagon brought us to the field, where Nicolette and Jacob picked their pumpkins. After that we went through the corn field maze.

Jacob was leading us. On the way home we stopped at the Chinese Buffet.
Sunday we had Jacob's birthday party at a gym for children. Claudia's friend's daughter also had her birthday, so it was a combined party with a lot of children jumping around the large room.

Playtime was for one hour, and 30 minutes for eating cake and opening up presents.

After the party Doreen and I drove to Victorian Ferndale, and then to the cheese factory in Loleta.
Monday I was feeling bad. Nicolette was coughing and Jacob had a runny nose, while I was with them. And every time I am in Eureka I catch their cold.
But I love them anyway.

Today was a driving day. We left Eureka at 6:30 AM. For the first hour fog was periodically hovering over the meadows, along the side of the road. It was a beautiful sight. I liked it less when the fog came over the highway.
The original plan was to go to Yosemite National Park for a few days and then go over Tioga Pass to the other side the Sierras.
But when I called the National Park they announced that tire chains are mandatory. The highway is still open but it can snow anytime. Rather then get stuck at Yosemite, we took highway 50 east and stopped for the night at the Placerville Moose Lodge.
The lodge had a Halloween dinner for $5.00. They served Swiss Steak, it was a home cooked meal, very delicious.
Today is Claudia's birthday. I remember many birthday parties we had at our house, with the children coming in their Halloween costumes.

We made some sandwiches and packed the little cooler with some goodies and headed North, by car, on the scenic highway 49.
In Nevada City we visited the Old Town section. On the way back we stopped at Grass Valley, and spent a few hours there.

On a previous trip we had visited the Empire Mine, this time we concentrated on the old part of town. Most of the buildings are from 1850 to 1865.

Our next stop was Caloma, the town where Marshall found the first gold nuggets and the rush was on. We went to the State Park and had a late lunch. Peanut butter sandwiches and an apple taste especially good in such a setting. The trees are in full fall colors.
Doreen said that the drive along highway 49 is beautiful and worth the effort, even without visiting the scenic old gold rush area towns.
It rained for a few minutes and it made me uneasy. We are still on the west side of the Sierras Mountains. Tomorrow we expect more rain. I hope it does not turn into snow until we are over the hills.

The rain came early. It rained almost all night. In the morning, when I hooked up the car to the motorhome, it was foggy and a light rain was falling. I did not walk around the motorhome and did not do the regular check ups.

Later on I noticed that I forgot to take the door mat in and slide the steps to the traveling position.
It was still raining in South Lake Tahoe when we arrived there. I had planed to stay there for a day. We kept on going and found better weather when we were near Carson City.

The drive through Carson Valley was enjoyable. The trees are in the last days of their fall colors.
We stopped at the scenic outlook over Mono Lake. The view was terrific, but having lunch there did not work out. The motorhome was too much out of level.

So we drove down to the valley, to the county park next to the lake.
After lunch we drove to June Lake, to look for a place to stay for the night. When we arrived there, dark clouds came over the mountains and the village was already covered with fog.
Our next destination was Mammoth Lakes. There we encountered the same conditions.
We decided to try Bishop. There we had beautiful weather, sunshine and big white clouds. The Elks Lodge could not accommodate us, so we went to a RV Park at the end of town.

After a short rest we drove to Schat's bakery and bought some bread, and to K Mart to buy a new door mat.

In the morning we went to the Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Village. Laws is located five miles North of Bishop, California.

The weather is just perfect for sightseeing.
On the way home we went to the library to get our E mail. Near the library we found the city park. It was picture taking time. The creek with its bridges and the golden trees were beautiful subjects. Doreen loved the baby ducks.
After a long rest, in the motorhome, we decided to take a drive up Bishop Creek Canyon. We drove up to the snow line to 8,000 feet.

The aspen and birch trees had lost their leaves already, but the creek with its waterfalls was still worth the visit.
We came here at the right time. In one more week the trees will also be bare in the valley.
We usually go to New Mexico for the fall colors, we miss the little villages North of Santa Fe, but the Eastern Sierras are beautiful too.

At 8:30 AM we were on our way to Independence. We arrived there at 9:30 AM and had to wait 30 minutes before the Eastern California Museum opened.

When we were inside I found out that we were about one year too early for the exhibit I wanted to see. Beginning in February and lasting until October 2007, they have a special exhibit about the Gulags, the Soviet Forced Labor Camps. The Eastern California Museum will be the only place west of the Mississippi, where this traveling exhibit will be shown. At the moment it is in the East.
Since we were at the museum we looked at the regular displays, which feature the natural and cultural heritage of the Owens Valley.
Our next stop was Manzanar National Historic Site. It was the war relocation center, where 10,000 Japanese American citizen and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II.

The Interpretive Center features exhibits and audio visual programs and a 30 minute documentary.
After lunch we headed for Death Valley. I had never entered the valley from the west and thought that from Lone Pine the highway would go down in the valley. I had a rude awakening.
Highway 136 was going down, but when we came to highway 190, we slowly climbed up to 5000 feet, which was fine. Going down was slow because of many curves. When we arrived in the valley I thought we had arrived. I was wrong. Before us was another 10 mile climb over a 5,000 foot mountain, it was going straight up.
I stopped the motorhome and woke up Doreen. She was asleep in the back. I unhooked the car and gave Doreen a walkie talkie and she followed me in the car. I managed to go 35 miles an hour. Luckily only two cars passed us at turn outs. During driving the 100 miles from Lone Pine to Stove Pipe Wells, we saw only about 10 vehicles. I think I know why.
We made it safely to Stovepipe Wells and decided to stay there for the night.

After a 35 minute drive we arrived at Furnace Creek. We filled up the fresh water tank and went to the Texas Springs campground.
At 11:00 AM we went to a meeting for tomorrows four wheel drive outing. We found people who take us along, unfortunately in different vehicles.
After the meeting we visited Joy and Ed, the parents of Vicki Daly. They are located in the big camping area, across the Furnace Creek Resort.
They can walk to all the entertainment. We prefer Texas Springs, because generators are not allowed at this campground, and it is small. At the large camping area are 1,000 rigs.
After dinner we went to the Jam Session. We stayed for two hours and then went home to prepare for tomorrows outing. We have to get up at 6:00 AM.
We can hear some of the music from our camp site. Some of the musicians are very good and some are awful. In the old west they would have shot or hanged the bad entertainers, but here they get credit for trying. Wednesday, the professionals take over.
We have bought our membership buttons for the 57th Encampment of the Death Valley 49ers and are ready for it. It will officially start on Wednesday, but there is impromptu entertainment already.

At 7:00 AM we drove to the Entrance of the Furnace Creek Resort, where Doreen was picked up by a Jeep Wrangler. The driver told me to come along, the three women could sit in the back and I could sit in front. I told him that it would be not fair to the man who offered me a ride. He would be waiting for me. They took off and I walked to the campsite, where I found the man waiting, to tell me that he could not go because his vehicle did not have enough clearance. At the meeting yesterday, it was made clear that this would be a four wheel tour on old mining dirt
Evidently he did not understand that and later somebody made him aware of his vehicles shortcoming.
I went back to my car and drove the 20 miles to the place where the tour started. I had the ice box and Doreen had only a bottle of water, so it was important that I get there.
The invitation was still intact but I hoped for a seat on another vehicle. There were 36 of them and no room for me. The 37nd had one available seat. It was a Jeep Cherokee with an 82 year old driver. The right front tire was shredded, no threads left. The remaining three tires were brand new. The forth tire was new a few days ago when the people left home. Warren, the old man, forgot to put the key on accessories when he towed the car. The steering wheel lock was on and when he went around curves the wheels were sliding sideways, instead of following the
motorhome. Why he ruined only one front tire is a mystery.
We had to sign a release and got an assigned number. After the tour this number will be checked off, to make sure everybody made it out safely.
When we got on the dirt road, Warren our driver, did not know how to shift in four wheel drive. The noise the transmission made, while he was trying to accomplish this task, hurt my mechanical feelings. The other two guys thought it was funny.
The three of them belong to a church group from the Los Angeles area. After awhile I was part of the group. They kidded each other and we had a good time.

Warren was nice but very impatient. He followed too close the jeep in front, even when we climbed up a steep hill. We climbed over rocks and went through gullies. I do not know whether I would do this with my own vehicle.
We had three rest periods, besides the regular stops for talks by our leader. The three stops were for flat tires. Every time somebody had a flat tire we had to wait until that vehicle was ready again.

When the first flat tire was announced over the CB, Doreen thought it was the Jeep I was in. I had told her about the shredded tire.
Doreen was also in a good group. The three women and the driver got along well.
We got home about 4:00 PM, very tired and in need of a shower. Today I learned more about gold, Death Valley, and in the process enjoyed this beautiful place.
Last night the moon was very bright. First we enjoyed the sunset and then the moon appearing over the mountains. The sunsets and sunrises in Death Valley are unbelievable beautiful.

In the morning we drove to the charcoal kilns to gather pinion nuts. Last year we got a lot. Today we did not find a single nut. We were disappointed but enjoyed the drive. On the way home we stopped at the Shoshone Indian Reservation and bought Indian tacos for lunch.

In the afternoon we took it easy. I visited Vicki's parents again and went up and down the rows of motorhomes, looking for Chappy. I think he did not make it this year. While driving through the area I saw a large yellow SI (Singles International) sign on one of the motorhomes.
I noticed a group of women carrying dishes. They were on their way to a pot luck. I recognized two of them. They also belong to the WINs. I talked to them for a short while.
After dinner we went to the main stage for Dancing Under The Stars. The organizers had installed a portable dance floor. We had planned to stay for a while and then go to the Jam Session at the campground, but the music was real good and we stayed.

We have fantastic weather. Since we arrived here, we put the winter pajamas and blankets away.
This morning we went to Artist Drive. We had been there before in years past, but we always enjoy the colors, the different ores make.
At 11:30 I stood in line, at the main stage, to put our lawn chairs in position. Exactly at 12:00 noon the race was on. The fourth row, and outside, is our favorite place. The chairs will stay there the rest of the week. We have more chairs for the other stage and the Friday breakfast entertainment at the golf course.
After lunch I went swimming at the large pool of the Furnace Creek Resort.
At 3:00 PM we attended the Kerry Christensen Show. This show is worth our membership fee. From now on it is gravy.
Not very far from our campsite fellow WINs arrived. Bob and Donna are the organizers of the eight day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.
We are going down the river in May, in two 14 person rafts, all WINs. I was happy to see them. Now I can get our E mail through Bob's router. We are close enough for getting it in our motorhome.
Since some people still sent us mail, other than personal mail, it took us a long time to get all our mail.
At 6:00 PM we went to the big show. Kerry was there again, so were two groups and individual entertainers. The first day of the Encampment was a hit.

At 10:00 AM we went to the art show at the parking lot of the National Park Visitor Center. Artists display their pictures, pottery and other art, the rest of the week there.
In the afternoon we drove the 25 miles to Stovepipe Wells for the 3:30 talk about the Life and Times of John Colton, the youngest pioneer of 1849. He was 17 years old when they came through Death Valley.
At 4:30 PM Kerry Christensen had a show at Stovepipe Wells and we attended it. We are like groupies, trying to attending as many of his shows as possible.
When we got home to the motorhome it was 6:30 PM and we were too tired to go to the 6:00 PM Coyote Howl, a talent show.
We have Charade, the movie with Carry Grant, on DVD. Doreen loves Carry Grant. So we relaxed and watched the film on television.
Our Pennsylvania camping neighbors came here for a one day stop. They like the Encampment very much and will stay until Saturday.

Today we had to rise early to go to the Hootenanny Hoedown breakfast at the golf course. Breakfast was served at 7:00 AM. We were early to put chairs down for the 8:00 AM show with Dick Hillary. A lot of people had the same idea and the cooks decided to serve before 7:00 o'clock.
It was still cool for sitting outside; Doreen had dressed properly and was OK. I was happy when the sun came over the mountains.
The show was as good as ever. Dick is a retired preacher and very funny. He has come to 44 Encampments and this will be his last. He had an operation a short time ago and a hard time to recover.
The Chaparal's provided the music. They have a large following. A lot of people love cowboy and western music.
After the show I went swimming. We skipped the arrival of the wagon train and took a nap instead. The wagons complete a 100 mile trek through the desert, it takes them five days. We have seen it the last few years.
The Trail Riders arrived one hour later, at 2:00 PM, we went to see them arrive and cheered them on. They were glad it is over and most of them headed for the showers at the swimming pool. 100 miles on horse back, through the desert, in five days, is an adventure.

Before we went back to the motorhome we placed our second set of chairs at the Ol' Dinah stage.

Chappy and Dotie came by, they have been here all the time and came to our motorhome several times, since they knew where we would be. Unfortunately they never left a note.
It is easier to find somebody in a small camping area like ours. There are only a hundred camp sites where we are. Where Chappy stays are 1,000 motorhomes and trailers. I must have missed his motorhome when I went up and down the roads.
At 6:00 PM we went to the main stage for a concert. We stayed one hour and fifteen minutes, we left early. Our favorite entertainers were done.
We walked to the Ol' Dinah stage for the Ol' Dinah Campfire, it started at 7:30 PM. Chaparal provided the music and Dick Hillary was the Master of Ceremony. In other words a lot of laughter and good music.
Ol, Dinah is a giant steam engine the Borax Company tried to use instead of the 20 Mule Team. The mules did a better job, and Ol, Dinah is a museums piece now, sitting near the entrance of the Furnace Creek Resort.

This is our last day. Tomorrow are church services and still some entertainment.
Today the golf tournament, horseshoe tournament, and gold panning tournament come to an end. activities in which we do not participate. One year I took part in the wheelbarrow races, it was actually fun.
The Bishop Lions Club is here today with their eye mobile and gives free glaucoma examinations. There is a chuck wagon lunch, a veterans tribute and wood carving demonstrations.
During the encampment are many things to do. The Borax Company has slide shows. At the National Park Visitor Center are shows.
A lot is offered for the $ 20.00 family membership. All the shows are free. Volunteers do all the work, from selling the memberships to setting up stages. The entertainers work for being able to sell their CDs.
All is for a good cause. Children in Death Valley get college scholarships and improvements are made in the park, with money from the 49ers.
At 9:00 AM we decided to head for home. Doreen has to be home by Monday for blood work.
We drove to Apple Valley, by Victorville, and spent the afternoon with Doreen's English friend. They had not seen each other for many years. When this friends husband was still alive, they had a trailer and spent three months at a time camping. Their driveway is set up for hook ups. I
only used an electrical outlet. After 30 minutes I blew a breaker and I did not want to say anything, so we did without electricity.
Victorville is in the high desert and it gets cold at night. I am glad we left Death Valley early. Where I-15 and I-215 meet traffic is closed. We have to go towards Santa Ana and catch I-5 there.

When we woke up the temperature in the motorhome was 43 degrees F. We left Apple Valley at 7:00 AM and by 8:30 AM we were near Murieta. It was too early to visit our friends, the Muzzy's, so we kept on rolling.
The closure of I-15 did not affect us much. I-215 was open and we were home by 9:30 AM.
Now we have one week to get ready for joining the WINs, for Thanksgiving, at Peg Leg Smith Monument, near Borrego Springs.
After Thanksgiving I will bring Doreen home and continue with the group to the Slabs and then to Yuma.
I will be gone all December to get away from the Holiday craziness.

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