Monday, October 20, 2008

Death Valley

We left Williams at 7:00 AM and arrived at Bullhead City at 11:00 AM.
Now we are at an altitude of 500 feet instead of 7,000 feet.
It is also weather to wear shorts again. The temperature during the day is 95 degrees F, and about 60 degrees F at night. I put the heavy blankets, which we needed the last few weeks, away. I will gladly get them back when it gets cooler.
We are on our way to Death Valley. Since we spent less time in New Mexico as we had planned, because of the cold weather, we will spend some time here with the WINs.
They will be here from the 21st to the 27nd. The outing will be at Katherine’s Landing Federal Park, at the shore of the Colorado River. It will be dry camping.
Since it is rather warm right now, we decided to go to a RV Park and enjoy the air conditioner in the motor home for the next few days.
With Passport America we get half price sites in member parks. At the park we are in, we pay $ 14.00 per night, and since they have empty spaces, the restrictions for Passport members are relaxed. We could stay as long as we wanted.
After lunch we went to the city park, where they celebrated Hardyville Days. The celebration is in honor of William Harrison Hardy, the ferry boat operator, settler, who got the Bullhead City ball rolling.
Across the river from Bullhead City is Laughlin, Nevada. We can see the giant buildings of the casinos.

This morning we went to Katherine’s Landing and got familiarized with the area.
From there we went to Oatman, an old mining town. Doreen likes to go there because the wild burros come to town to be fed.
We took along carrots for those cute beasts.

I kept an eye on Doreen and made sure she would not fall. Some years ago she fell from the side walk, while walking and watching a baby burro nurse in the middle of the street. We ended up in the Emergency room in the Bullhead City hospital. Doreen had two broken ribs.
Now she is wearing a knee brace, as a result from the fall at the train station in Chama.
After the Oatman visit we had lunch at a Chinese buffet.

Today was a relaxing day. After getting my E mail at the library we went to the Bullhead City Visitor Center, and from there to the AVI Casino to check the movie schedule. From the six films, there is not one I would like to see. Doreen is going to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua with her daughter, when we are at home.
In the afternoon I went swimming.

After our visit to the library, we went to Katherine’s Landing. A lot of the WINs were there already and some were still coming. Everybody was busy setting up their rigs. There was no time for talking.
Since it has not cooled off we will be leaving tomorrow morning for Las Vegas. It is not as hot in Vegas as it is down here. We will see the group for Thanksgiving in Borrego Springs. They are going slowly South while we are going North.

I woke up at 2:00 AM. The motor home was shaking a little bit. We have windy conditions now.
The wind brought some cooler air. After breakfast we made a decision, instead of going to Las Vegas we went to join the WINs.
At the 4:00 PM meeting we met most members of the group. Since we did not sleep very much last night we decided to take it easy and not go dancing with them at one of the casinos.

Another easy day. It is still a bit windy, but the temperature is fine. We pay the $ 5.00 camping fee by the day, in case it gets warm again, and we have to head North.
The campground is actually very beautiful. Each site is surrounded by high oleander bushes, which give some privacy.

I was able to finish my book. I was reading Anthony Bourdain’s " Kitchen Confidential" He has a show on the Travel Channel.
Now I am starting "Angela’s Ashes". I am doing this backward, since I read already "Tis", Frank McCourt’s sequel to Angela’s Ashes.
Today we went to the Riverside Casino and looked at Don Laughlin’s old car collection. He has some beauties there.

The highlight of the day was going to the movies. I knew that Doreen wanted to see "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" so we went.
Most of the group went kayaking on Lake Mojave. In the evening they went dancing.
The weather is still agreeable.

Today was Oktoberfest in Bullhead City. The bratwurst was good, and the sauerkraut and potato salad were ok. Everything else was lousy.The little Mexican dancers and the other young dancers were the exception.

At the 4:00 PM meeting the WINs, who were also there, told the group not to bother tomorrow, they were also disappointed.
It got warmer today, I think we will leave tomorrow morning.

We left Bullhead City at 7:30 AM and arrived at Boulder City at 9:30 AM. The Elks Lodge camping area with hook ups was filled. There was one site without electricity and we took it, since it is cooler now.
The Boulder City Lodge is one of the best lodges we have seen so far. They have 15 RV sites. Every site has a little sign, stating who donated it. Even the trees have a marker for their donator.
When I started my computer the WI-WI light was blinking, I do not have to go to the library to get my E mail, I can get it from the motor home.
After setting up the motor home we went into the lodge for breakfast. They served a good, big breakfast for $ 5.00.
Later on we drove to the Lake Mead Overlook, near Hoover Dam.
Across the street from the lodge is a Dairy Queen. Doreen told me that she did not have an ice cream from Dairy Queen for many years. She twisted my arm and we went over and had a big ice cream.

Today we could have gotten a full hook up site, but we like our site and made somebody else happy. I hooked up the water and we also have a sewer connection. We do not need electricity unless it gets warmer and we have to run the air conditioner. In the morning the temperature is 62 degrees F and in the afternoon about 82 degrees F.
We went to Boulder City Old Town and walked through antique stores. The rest of the day we read our books, and took it easy.
In the evening we had dinner at Toto’s Mexican restaurant. The food was good. Donna and Bob mentioned the restaurant in their blog. We walked there.

Another day for looking at old stuff. They have some big antique stores here. We are only looking.
After grocery shopping we did our daily reading.

Diana, in her blog, mentions the Big Horn Sheep in the park in Boulder City. We went to the park and there were 31 Big Horn Sheep, big ones and small ones. They come down from the hills and feed on the grass and get water. They do not mind children on the swings in the play area, and the people around. While we were there a vehicle marked: "Bighorn Tours" was there. They came from Las Vegas.
For dinner we had Spaghetti in the Elks Lodge. They serve a very good meal.

We left Boulder City at 7:30 AM and arrived at the Moose Lodge in Pahrump at 9:30 AM.
After doing laundry we did the last, big store, shopping before going to Death Valley.
Attached to the door of the Laundromat was a flyer with a picture of a colorful bird, and a notice for a reward for $10,000, for the return of the bird.
We talked to a couple, who also did their laundry, they are living in Pahrump. The lady told us that the bird belonged to Heidi Fleiss, who is the owner of the Laundromat. This is a big career change for Heidi, from Madam in Hollywood to the owner of "Dirty Laundry", the name of the facility, and living in Pahrump.
Gasoline is now $ 2.75 a gallon. I am happy, since this trip was estimated on $ 3.80 per gallon.

The 55 miles to Furnace Creek took us one hour and fifteen minutes. We arrived in Death Valley at 12:15 PM.
After lunch we took off to look for Dottie and Chappy. As soon as we left our camp site they appeared. They had seen us coming in.
We went to the 49er kiosk and paid our $ 25.00 for the entertainment for the five days of the gathering.
In the evening we sat with Chappy and Dottie and their friends, two couples, the husbands were also working for Convair.
In the Sunset camping area are two groups which have jam sessions. We decided not to attend tonight.

Today we went to Beatty, Nevada for Beatty Days. Dottie and Chappy came with us and the two other couples were in Bob’s Jeep.
I participated in the chili tasting contest. For three dollars I could go to all the chili cooks and taste their chili. After tasting about 20 different kinds I found it difficult to choose the best.
For lunch we had hamburgers and hot dogs cooked by the Lions. The hamburgers were very good. They had cooked onions on them, just like the White Castle hamburgers. Our friends were astounded that I still could eat a hamburger after eating all that chili. I am still growing, only in the wrong direction.
While we were eating it started to rain lightly.
There were gun fights, old cars on display and booths with all kinds of stuff for sale.
During the bed races it really came down and we headed for the cars and left for Stovepipe Wells, where Chappy treated us with ice cream.

Another sunny day in Death Valley, and we enjoyed it. We went to Shoshone for "Shoshone Old West Days". I drove Dottie’s Bronco and I think the car has transmission problems. When the speed was between 45 MPH and 50 MPH the vehicle jerked. Since we had gone in two cars I felt better. We could always tow the car back to the motor home. It was not necessary though.
In the evening I cooked a spaghetti dinner and Dottie and Chappy joined us.
We do not receive a TV signal in Death Valley but get the Public Radio station loud and clear. It is the only FM station.

When I get up in the morning I take a walk up the hills, where I have a terrific view across the valley. The hills are red from the early sun. I can see in the distance the motor homes at Sunset Campground.

The eight of us went today to the Ubehebe Crater. I took my car and Dottie and Chappy rode with us. The rest went with Bob in his Jeep.

The road to the crater was asphalt. When we decided to go to the Race Track, the place where large rocks move mysteriously on almost flat ground, I went ahead, and after 100 feet on the dirt road backed up. The wash board condition of the road was terrible. Bob, in his jeep, went ahead.
We went to Stovepipe Wells and visited a friend of Chappy who is camping there. After the visit we ate our lunch and then went home.

We took off in three four wheel drive vehicles. Our first stop was the Charcoal Kilns. The last four miles were pretty rough. Dottie was at the wheel of the Bronco and she did a good job maneuvering over the wash board condition of the road.

On the way back we went through Wild Rose Canyon, and had lunch at a road side picnic bench. Somebody must have lived at this spot, because there were oleander bushes.

Near Panamint Springs is Darwin Falls. The road to the falls was terrible. All three vehicles made it though without losing any parts.
Our bodies got a good shaking. To get to the falls we had to walk one mile. The last 500 feet were the hardest. One had to cross the creek several times on thin logs and climbing up large boulders was not easy either. Three of us made it.

It was a long day, we arrived at the motor home at 5:00 PM. After dinner I took a shower. While I was in the shower, Donna and Bob paid us a visit. We had not seen them for a long time. They had been in Florida and traveled up the coast to Newfoundland. It is always fun to see old friends.

At 1:00 PM we joined the manager of the Furnace Creek Inn for a tour of this historic Inn.

Kerry Christensen had his show at the National Park Visitor Center patio at 3:00 PM. He is one of our favorite entertainers. A lot of other people feel the same way, one could tell by the turnout.

6:00 PM was the time for the "Songs of the West" show. It was a good show. All the main entertainers of the gathering performed.

We went to the Pioneer Costume Contest at 11:00 AM. The contestants had to explain the purpose of their garments. Dresses had deep pockets, since the ladies had no hand bags. It was difficult for a thief to pick their pockets.
Two of the WIN women entered the contest.

Our next stop was the nearby Indian Reservation for Indian Tacos. They are flat and the size of a small Pizza and are delicious.
From there we visited Vicki Daly’s parents. We finally found them. We must have driven by their motor home several times in the last few days. Yesterday morning I did not go up the hills on my daily walk, instead I went down to the Sunset campground and walked up and down the rows of motor homes, and found Joy and Ed’s jeep and motor home. It was still to early for a visit .
At 3:30 PM we left for Stovepipe Wells where Kerry Christensen performed. We are his groupies.
The 49er Encampment is the Rock Concert for the Geritol Generation.

Today was the Hootenanny Hoedown Breakfast at the golf club. After the breakfast there was an outdoor musical show.

At 12:00 noon the Model T cars arrived, at 1:00 PM the Wagon Train and at 2:00 PM the Trail Riders. They started 100 Miles from here and rode 20 miles a day. Most of the riders looked like they were glad it was over. There were 76 riders and horses plus support wagons, some pulled by mules.

For evening entertainment we first went to the Fiddlers Stage for a concert and at 7:30 PM we went to the stage at Ol’ Dina for a campfire with western music.
In the Encampment schedule book there is something to do every hour of the day. There is a golfing tournament, horseshoes, and gold panning, besides the art show and all the old movies from the 20 mule team days at the Park Visitor Center.
I think there were less rigs here than years before. Sometimes in the past there were about 1700 motor homes and trailers here.

At 10:00 AM we went to the 49ers Parade. The SOLOS were part of the parade. Some of my WIN friends are also SOLOS.

"Desert Night Music" music by the campfire was at 7:00PM. Chaparral always plays good Western music.
This brought to an end our participation in the 2008 49ers Encampment.
We had good weather, met some old friends, enjoyed good entertainment, and also enjoyed the beauty of the valley. We also met some interesting people. There where to large German MAN trucks. One belonged to a couple from Germany, and one to a couple from Switzerland. They have been traveling together through Africa, Europe, and now since May 2007, the USA, Canada and Mexico.
The trucks were converted to campers, with small windows near the top of the roof. They told me this is for safety reasons. The color of the rigs is almost the same olive color as the US army trucks had. The reason for this is, they camp whenever possible in forests, and they are not easily spotted.
The trucks are all wheel drive. One had three rear axles, and can almost go anywhere. I would not want to pay for new tires for that vehicle.
We had a good time. Unfortunately Dottie and Chappy had trouble with their Bronco. First the transmission did not work right, and then when they came to the tour of the Inn, they smelled burning under the hood. They came with us to the campground and Tim and Chappy went back to the Inn and towed the Bronco back

This was a rough night. The wind was howling most of the night. We left the Texas Spring campground at 6:00 AM. As soon as we came out of the canyon it got better.
We got gasoline in Baker and as soon as we were on I-15 the motor home was shaking. The wind was so bad I could only go 45 MPH. We stopped in Barstow for more gasoline and lunch. I played with the idea to stay in Barstow, but then carried on. As soon as we came over the mountains the conditions improved.
We stopped at Tom’s Place near Corona, where we took a nap. My hands needed a rest. They hurt, from holding the steering wheel, when the wind was blowing.
Doreen thought we would not stay long at Tom’s, a rock band was playing loud music. But she fell asleep.
I need only 30 minutes sleep to carry on. That is from the 30 minutes I slept during the lunch break, when I was working.
We arrived in Carlsbad at 2:30 PM and after emptying the motor home attacked the five shopping bags of mail. Most of it was junk.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Grand Canyon 2008

We left Los Alamos at 8:00 AM, after scraping ice off the windshield of the car.

At 11:30 AM we arrived at the Dancing Eagle Casino RV Park. We had seen the billboards, advertising $ 10.00 per day, full hook up sites. When I went to pay it was $ 20.00, $10.00 with a player card. I went to the casino and got the card. They also gave me a free T shirt.
The hydraulic levelers on the motor home are working again. I checked for leaks on the connections of the new hose, while Doreen was working the levers.
After lunch we went to Acoma, Sky City. Sky City is located on a mesa. Our one hour guided tour was educational and fun. We had a very good guide.

The player card also gave us two meals for the price of one in the casino restaurant. We had dinner there.The prime rib was good. After dinner I gave a $ 10.00donation to the casino. The quarter machine did not give me one penny back.
The debate between Obama and McCain ended our day.

Today we drove to Williams, Arizona. Williams is the gate way to the Grand Canyon. A train leaves from here to the Canyon. We will drive though by car tomorrow.
After setting up the motor home we went to town to buy groceries. Today was also laundry day.

We left at 8:30 AM for the Grand Canyon National Park. The park is located 60 miles North of Williams.
There are shuttle buses in the park, but we drove to all the rim outlooks in our own car.

We also drove to the Desert View Tower, and climbed to the top.The inside walls have Indian designs.

At the El Tovar hotel we took a little rest. The weather is perfect for traveling.

Since I traveled the bottom of the canyon by raft, I look at it differently now.
At the Desert View Tower we sat at a bench, enjoyed the view and our lunch.