Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicago Trip (8) 2010

We did some shopping today and went to the Riverside Casino, to the Classic Car Museum.

Late afternoon we sat outside and caught up on our reading.

We arrived at Death Valley Junction at about 9:30 AM. I went across the street to the Amargosa Opera House and bought tickets for tonight’s performance.
For $ 5.00 we can stay the night at the large parking area near the Opera House.
After a short rest we took off for Shoshone Village where they have Shoshone Village Days this weekend.
There we had a plate with BBQ’d beef, corn, coleslaw, and beans. Doreen did some shopping.
We found our friends Dottie and Chappy. They are already in Death Valley with their motorhome.
I also saw Loise from the WIN’s.

Back at the motorhome I had a little surprise. Next to our motorhome is a small lake, hidden by bushes.
We have been driven this road many times and did not realize there is water in this dry place.

The performance started at 7:00 PM. Marta Becket who built the opera house, and painted the inside walls and ceiling with figures from well known operas, does not perform any more on Saturdays. She only does a half hour show on Sundays. She talks about the past.
Sandy Scheller picks figures from the wall and brings them alive by dancing. One of her routine was Madame Butterfly. She dances to recordings of the operas.
Madame Butterfly was not there anymore. A teenager had driven his car through the wall and Marta Becket never repainted that spot.
The show is called: “If These Walls Could Talk”.

Between the dances a video appears on the screen, Sandy is talking to Marta about the Opera House and the performance. During that time Sandy changes her costumes.
We also found out why there is a madam with her ladies painted on the wall. A madam from a nearby brothel brought her girls to the show, so they would get some culture.
This is an unusual place, in the middle of nowhere. It was Marta Becket’s dream to have her own Opera House, and she found it near Death Valley.

We are now in Furnace Creek, California, for the Death Valley 49ers 61st Annual Encampment.
The official fun starts on Wednesday, but down in the Sunset camping area they have Jam Sessions in the evening. We can hear some of the music here at the Texas Springs campground.
Last night, when we came out of the opera house, it started to rain. This morning it was cooler.
It feels now like 70 degrees F.
At 1:30 PM we went to a four wheeler meeting. Tomorrow morning we are going on a long trip through the desert.

At 7:00 AM we were at Chappy and Dottie’s camp site. We got in their four wheel drive vehicle and headed towards Stove Pipe Wells. Bob and Tim and their wives, in their four wheelers, came along.
At Stove Pipe Wells, at the gas station, they filled up the fuel tanks for the long ride through the desert.
From there we drove to the ranger station near Scotty’s Castle, the meeting point for the outing.
15 four wheel drive vehicles showed up. After signing wavers for not suing the 49ers organization, in case somebody gets hurt, we took off for Gold Point Ghost Town.
The first 17 miles we drove on a rough dirt road. Breakfast settled real fast. Dottie had her hands full driving that stretch. When the road became more sandy it was easier.
The weather in Death Valley is agreeable now, about 65 degrees F. I wore shorts, not thinking about the change in elevation. This was real stupid. When we arrived at Gold Point, which is at an elevation of 4,000 feet, I froze my butt off. Doreen was dressed better, she also had a warm jacket. I have warm clothing in my car, but we did not use my car.

The cooks cooked the hamburgers in an outdoor kitchen, in case of a fire the building with all the ancient stuff will not be lost, and they have a lot of that.

The hamburgers were good. For $9.00 we had a half pound hamburger, all the beans and fries one could eat, a piece of chocolate cake and coffee or a soft drink.
We ate inside where it was warm. A big stove warmed up the room.

After filling our bellies and listening to the owner of the saloon and some of the buildings, giving us a little history of Gold Point, we were ready to tour the Hardluck Mine Castle.
We went on another rough road and also had snow on the ground at 6,000 feet. This turned out real four wheeling.

The castle is one man’s dream. An inheritance pays for this. It is built on 40 acres, which includes a patented gold mine claim, dating back to 1897.
Thirteen years of construction have gone into building this Gothic style castle. It is almost completed.
The foundation is 50 feet in diameter and the castle will consist of nearly 8,000 square feet.

The place is designed to fit two brand new pipe organs, they are still in crates.
It will not rival Scotty’s castle, but the story behind its origin is also very strange.
One can get there only by four wheel drive vehicle, so the number of visitors is limited.
This was a very interesting long day. We arrived, back at the motorhome, at 5:30 PM.

In the morning I climbed up my favorite hill in Death Valley. Texas Spring campground is in the foreground and Sunset in the back, near the date palms at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Later I took Doreen and Dottie to the Borax Museum where they checked out the sales booths. I continued on to the National Park Visitor Center to get my E mail. The visitor Center is across from the Sunset camping area, where most of the RVs are parked.

I noticed the German motorhome at the Visitor Center. On the back were decals of North America, South America, and Australia. They have a long way ahead of them. Our nine weeks are nothing compared to their journey.

In the afternoon I went to the swimming pool at the ranch and swam and took a shower.
Doreen was planning to shower in the motorhome while I was gone.
When I came back there where pots and pans from under the sink on the table. While I was gone one of the water hoses burst and sprayed water around. Doreen shut off the water and cleaned up the mess.
I cut off the bad section of the hose and found out that the hose was too short now.
There is no hardware store within 60 miles. I used one of the spare automotive hoses,which I keep, to make a temporary repair.
It took 40 minutes plus three bloody spots on my head to get the job done.
In the evening Dottie and Chappy came to our motorhome for spaghetti dinner.

The 61st Death Valley 49er Encampment stared today. At 12:00 noon we were able to set our chairs in front of the Fiddler Stage. There was a long line; everybody wants a good spot. The chairs will stay there for the rest of the encampment.
After that procedure we went to the Indian reservation for Indian tacos. The tacos did not agree with Doreen and she did not feel good the rest of the day.

At 3:00 PM we went to the Visitor Center patio to listen to Kerry Christensen. He just got over a cold and his voice was not up to par, but we still enjoyed the performance.

The show at the Fiddler Stage started at 6:00 PM. Kerry Christensen was the first entertainer.
The park rangers had come around in the morning and had warned everybody about the upcoming wind.
When Kerry was on stage the wind started blowing. Sand came across the stage. It did not stop him.
The next performer had it better, the wind had died down.
We noticed that the acts lasted longer than usual. I got up and talked to Ron, the stage manager, about this. I had noticed that Rod Erickson, The Jeppsons, and Ron and Opal were not sitting on the tables where they sell their CDs. I asked him whether they are here to perform. He told me that they are not at the encampment this year and he went on stage and made an announcement. The printed schedule is wrong.
Kerry and Sourdough Slim were very good, Belinda Gail is a good singer but listening to her for 30 minutes was a bit too much for me.
When the wind picked up again we took off and headed for the motorhome.

At 10:00 AM Death Valley National Park Superintendent Sarah Craighead gave an update what the park did this year and will be doing in the coming year. The meeting was at the Visitor Center patio.
Because of stimulus money they were able to fix about 100 miles of park roads. Sunday, when they 49ers leave, the Visitor Center will be shut down for 18 months and it will be refurbished.
At 11:00 AM we went to the auditorium to watch the Pioneer Costume Contest. People make their costumes like they would have worn them in 1849.

Belinda Gail was entertaining during the contest.

In the afternoon I did laps in the swimming pool at the Furnace Creek Ranch.

On the way home I saw those riders and horses.

We have a beautiful view from our front window.

At 6:00 PM was Coyote Howl, an amateur talent show. Tonight we did not have a storm and the temperature was pleasant.
Today I saw several WINs. Jeanne Walter came to Furnace Creek today, she is staying in Pharump.
Fast Freddy was playing the violin at the talent show tonight.

This is the last day of our trip. We will be leaving two days early because we have visitors, from Chicago, come to our house in Carlsbad.
I climbed the last time on the hill above our campground.

At 8:00 AM we went to the Hootenanny Breakfast at the golf course. The entertainment there is always fun. Chaparral is one of the best cowboy music bands in the country, Dave Stamey, Belinda Gail, Sourdough Slim, and South Coast are pretty good too.
Unfortunately, Ken Graydon, the Master of Ceremony was not there, he was airlifted from a hospital in Las Vegas to a hospital in San Diego. The bleeding on his brain did not stop and they will operate on him there.

A helicopter took off during the concert.

Dick Hillary, who was the MC for 44 years came back for a visit. He is loved by all the 49ers.

Tonight was music on two stages. "Evening Music" started at 6:00 PM at the Fiddler’s Stage.
We went to this event.
Ol’ Dinah Campfire started at 7:30 PM. In the years past we went first to the Fiddler’s Stage and at 7:30 PM walked over to Ol’ Dinah for the Western Music. Since we will be leaving early tomorrow morning we stayed at the Fiddler’s Stage.

This was a wonderful trip. The busted water hose was the only problem we encountered, and that was my fault, I used the wrong tubing when I installed the water filter system. I have to redo the whole installation.
I also have to check out the 12 volt electrical system in the motorhome. When the sun is shining and the solar panels are charging the batteries, the voltage is above 13 volts. When the sun disappears the voltage drops to 12.2 volts, it should be at least 12.7.
The batteries may be weak now.
In the Chicago area I would have liked to see more of my former coworkers, but there was not enough time, I saw my friends though and that was important.
We had a good time with David and Sharon, and I am always happy to see Martin and his family.
We left Death Valley at 6:30 AM and rested for about an hour in Barstow.
At about 2:00 PM we arrived in Carlsbad. Now we will live in a big house again, and it really feels big, after living in a small space for nine weeks.

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