Sunday, October 25, 2009

Death Valley 2009

I made it down to the valley. There was not much traffic so I could take it slow which was good for the brakes.
They opened Texas Springs Campground today. I had to wait until 1:30 PM. The ranger let the regulars, who have been coming for more than 20 years, in first. They always want the same site. Some of them did not like what they saw. The National Park System spent a lot of money on improving Texas Springs. The sites are now level and the washrooms are improved. By making the sites level, there are now terraces and the rigs have to be parked as the sites are laid out. This means not all sites have a view into the valley. I got the site I had for several years and it was easier to level it this time.
They charge $ 4.19 for a gallon of gas her in the park.

It was windy last night and this morning.
Early in the morning I walked up the hill and enjoyed the view from up there. The sun was shining on the mountains, across the valley.
Texas Springs Campground is slowly filling up. So is Sunset Campground, the
campground in the back.

I did some house cleaning today and went to the swimming pool at the Furnace Creek Ranch Resort.
The pool is a flow through pool, fed by a natural hot spring. They use no chlorine in the pool.
In the afternoon I spent a couple of hours with my neighbors, Barbara and George. They are from Maine, very nice people. And their last name is not Bush.

I was up bright and early. At 7:00 AM I was entering Golden Canyon. There was only one young man running up the canyon. Later on and older man passed me running.
I walked all the way to Red Cathedral. Unfortunately one can not take a picture from the distance, and when one is nearby, the picture means nothing. It is still a spectacular sight.

When I left the canyon a group of people entered. They are on a bicycle trip and for a change walked today.

After lunch I went swimming.

Just before sunset I climbed up the hill and took some pictures. My motorhome is still alone at one end of the campground. This will change the next couple of days.

This morning the wind started blowing. I put the chairs and the outdoor carpet away. They were flying every which way.
Before lunch I drove to Zabriskie Point. It is one of the viewpoints in the park.
The wind was still strong.

On the way home I stopped at the ranch, and took some pictures of Old Dinah, the steam tractor, which was not able to replace the 20 Mule Team. The animals were more efficient.

In the afternoon I did my laps in the pool. There were five people in the pool area. I was the only one in the water. I do shower after the swim. This way the water in the motorhome will last the whole stay at Death Valley, and I will not have to move the motorhome..
Most people did not leave their rig today. There will be no campfires tonight, and I will not hear Doreen’s friend singing, down in Sunset campground. They have a jam session every night, and Doreen does not like one of the female singers. Her voice carries all the way up to Texas Springs.
It cooled off at least ten degrees F. That part is nice.

I am getting ready to pick up Doreen tomorrow in Baker. Chappy and Dottie will bring her there. They will stay the night in Baker and then come to Furnace Creek on Friday.
When I checked the tires I found the right rear tire flat. Why I did not notice this before I do not know.
I put the doughnut on and brought the flat tire to the service station. I had picked up a nail.
It was windy all day, better than yesterday though.
My two neighbors, two young girls, decided to stay last night. They did not want to drive in that wind.
They are real white, not much sun gets on their skin. Both have identical rings through their noses, their hair is short, but stands up in the middle and has several colors. One took of her jacket and her arms are full with tattoos. She wears pants while the other girl wears dresses. The one with the pants was yesterday under the motorhome checking for leaks.
The one girl got the motorhome from her grandmother. It is a 1985 class C, and has about 20,000 miles on it. I hope they get a lot more miles out of this motorhome. They seem to be nice girls, they only look strange. They walk, holding hands, through the campground and sit at the campfire arms over each other shoulders.
I picked up the tire early afternoon. They charged me $ 20.00. Everything is expensive out here, no competition.
I changed the tires right there and then went to the Borax Museum. In the inside they have all the minerals found in Death Valley and outside is some of the equipment which was used for mining borax.

Then I visited the one million watt solar facility the Furnace Creek Ranch Resort had build two years ago. One million watts divided by 130 watts a panel means they have about 7,700 panels.
It is a giant facility.

It took me two hours to get to Baker.
I went early because I thought I could go to the library and do some computer work. They have no library in Baker. The place consists of gas stations, fast food places and two little markets, and a few houses.
I had never paid any attention when we came through Baker before.
Two hours I spent at Burger King, eating a Whopper and reading. Then I went looking for milk and a couple of other grocery items. The first store had no vegetables so I went to the Country Market. They had even less. Bananas were 99 cents a banana. I might as well buy the stuff in Furnace Creek.
Chappy arrived at about 9:00 PM. We loaded Doreen’s belongings in my car and took off.
Today we had good weather again. The wind had stopped.

We went to Shoshone for Shoshone Days. The town has only a few houses and there were only a few booths were people sold handicrafts. I had hoped to eat some of the barbecued food, but that will be served tomorrow.

We went on to Pahrump, Nevada. There we went to Walmart to do some grocery shopping.
On the way home we stopped again at Shoshone where the covered wagons and their mules, which will be in Furnace Creek on Friday, had arrived. They will stay there for the night.
My friend Herbert and his wife Elisabeth have arrived today at the Furnace Creek Ranch. They will be staying three nights. Herbert and I served our apprenticeship at the same company. I was one year ahead of him.
I had left a note at the reception and told him what site we are on at Texas Springs Campground. When we came back to the motorhome the note was hanging on the windshield wiper. They had found us.
I went looking for them but they were not in their room.
After trying a few times more I stopped at Chappy’s campsite and talked to him. Gary Price who has the site next to him, overheard me and came over. He told me that a German couple had approached him and asked for Texas Springs.
When I drove back to the motorhome they were there talking with Doreen. We made plans for tomorrow.

Elisabeth, Herbert, Doreen and I went today to Scotty's Castle. Doreen and I took the basement tour and Elisabeth and Herbert the castle tour. I always wanted to see what was below the castle.
The timing was perfect, we arrived there and five minutes later we were on the tours.

Our next stop was the Ubehebe Crater. From there we went to the sand dunes and Stovepipe Wells.
It was a busy day.

In the evening we had dinner at our motorhome. Doreen made a Shepherds Pie.

In the morning we went with Elisabeth and Herbert to Zabriskie Point.

From there we went to Dantes View.

We had dinner again at our motorhome. After dinner we continued our conversation about the time we were young boys, learning our trade and continuing our education. Herbert started to work then for Vickers Valve, an American Company, while I ended up in Canada and later Chicago.
Sometimes when Herbert came to Detroit, Vickers headquarters, he came and visited us in Chicago.
Vickers Valve made power steering units.
Elisabeth and Herbert have been several times vacationing in the US. They have been to most of the American National Parks.

This was a day to relax and go swimming. We visited with friends and made plans for the next couple of days.
I saw some WINs, no Shanty Shakers yet. Lois is here and Linda from British Columbia.
Sunset Campground and the two overflows are almost filled up. Here at Texas Springs are still a few empty sites. By Wednesday they will be filled up too.

Chappy and Dottie decided to go to Pahrump and we came along. We met Chappy’s brother in law and wife at the Nugget casino and had lunch there.
We also went to the Super Walmart and did some shopping.
When we came back I tried to do some computer work at the Furnace Creek Ranch. They have changed the free WIFI to $ 24.00 for three days. I went over to the National Park Visitor Center, and their system was down because it was overloaded with all those 49ers using it.
Texas Springs Campground has only a few tent sites open. We are lucky, we have the best site. On one side, the site is closed and on the other side is the water faucet. We have a lot of room.

When I got up I climbed up the hill again and took some pictures of Texas Springs, with Sunset Campground in the back and the moon in the sky.

The Encampment started today. At 12:00 noon we brought two of our chairs to the main stage. They will stay there for the next few days.
From there we went to the Timbisha Shoshone Indian reservation for Indian Tacos. After that we just made it for the 1:00 PM lecture and slide show of: "The Films of Death Valley"
It was very interesting.
At 6:00 PM we went to the main stage for "Songs of the West". It was cowboy music and some yodeling. Kerry Christensen is not here this year. Everybody misses him. He is entertaining people in Texas right now.

Today we went four wheeling up the Cottonwood Canyon. There were 11 vehicles, Jeeps, Humvees, and two pick up trucks.

I rode with Dottie and Chappy. Dottie took her Bronco over rocks and through dry river beds. I am glad Doreen did not come along.
She had a bad fall a few days before she came to Death Valley, and it is now really hurting her. She would have suffered from all the shaking.
Our first stop was at the cave.

We had lunch at the cottonwood grove.

Our tour guide had a flat tire. Bob, one of our Convair friends, stayed with him and helped with the tire change. Bob has a high pressure air tank on board his Jeep and used a pneumatic impact wrench.

When we came back to Stove Pipe Wells the tour guide came to Dottie and asked her about her age. He took a picture of her. I think she will be in the next 49er quarterly paper.
At 6:00 PM Doreen and I went to the Coyote Howl, at the main stage. It is a talent show. Besides the professional entertainers there were some young talented people. Two girls, seven and nine years old, and their mother were really good. One 14 year old violinist was good too.

At 7:00 AM was the Hootenanny Hoedown Breakfast at the golf course. It is an all outdoor affair.

We like Chaparral, a trio, which sing cowboy and western songs.
The other entertainers were also very good.

At 10:30 AM we went to the Visitor Center auditorium for the 60th Celebration Program. Slides were shown from the first encampment in 1949. More people came than they expected and the gas station run out of gasoline. People were stuck for a few days.
We did not attend the arrival of the Wagon Train and Trail Riders.
At 7:30 PM we went to the Ol’ Dinah Campfire for some fine vocals, music and entertainment.

We left Death Valley at 6:20AM, two days early. Doreen does not feel too good.
Her ribbs are hurting now.
This gives us also a chance to join the Convair Camping club, at their Thanksgiving outing, in Chula Vista.
I was gone for ten weeks. The only problem I had, was breaking the heat adjusting knob at the dash board. The motorhome ran fantastic. I was worried at first since this was our first big trip. We only had gone for three days prior to this trip.
I have a little list of things I want to change on the rig.