Death Valley National Park

Furnace Creek

This morning after steaming my head for an hour I felt somewhat better. We decided since we wanted to go to Death Valley and that would be almost 6 hours in the car that it wouldn’t take any more effort for me to be in a car than sitting in my chair so off we went. We headed out shortly before lunch and made sure we packed for desert travel. A couple gallons of water in the back seat, full tank of gas, cooler with cheese and jerky, crackers and snacks to go with, cough drops, and of course the camera and my National Parks Passport. We headed out and it was gray and gloomy. We drove about an hour out and it started to clear up. The sun started poking through the clouds and I was instant more cheery. In Pahrump where we are staying the last few days have been like my mood, gloomy and chilly. With the sun on my face I started feeling even better than I had this morning.

Otherworldly Badlands

We hit the park around 1pm and took a lot of pictures. The traffic was quite light and so we got to enjoy the winding roads. Part of the reason the trip was nearly 3 hours each way is because we didn’t head to just the heart of Death Valley we were heading for Scotty’s Castle.

Scotty's Castle

Scotty’s Castle is a funny thing. People with too much time and too much money do the strangest things. In this case a man from Chicago wanted a vacation home somewhere to escape the harsh winters (sounds like Bill and I) and so they bought a piece of property out in the middle of NOWHERE, literally. On this property they built a castle. It is a beautiful thing. Funny story is the man it is named after never actually owned it. The funnier story is after it was built the owner (Mr. Johnson) discovered he didn’t actually OWN the land it was built on; he owned the land 5 miles or so up the road! EGADS! Now the property is part of the Death Valley National Park. You can go and take a tour of the house. It is still furnished with the original furnishings (from 1931) down to the clothes hanging in the closets. It is quite a thing.

In the process of our travels I picked up 3 more magnets for my collection.

I generally limit myself to 1 magnet from each location but after buying the park magnet I found this one.

It is a copy of the bench mark from the US Geological Survey, Death Valley National Park, Badwater Basin -282 feet. That’s the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. We took a picture of our GPS when we got to the lowest point we drove to today.

We got lots of great pictures and even saw a bunny and a coyote when we were about to leave (I think we ruined dinner for the coyote, GO BUNNY!) We stopped in Furnace Creek Resort for dinner and had healthy Buffalo burgers and to balance that topped it with some French fries. I am still amazed how much buffalo tastes like cow but with a quarter the fat! It seemed right to eat the buffalo burgers too since cows are just not native to this area of the country. Grin.

Sunsets

Sunset – the daily disappearance of the sun below the horizon as a result of the rotation of the earth. The sun ‘sets’ everyday – and sometimes the conditions are right the sunlight is scattered and absorbed to create wonderful display of color in the sky.

Although it is true that the sun goes down everyday – back when I lived in Maple Valley, Washington I did not get to see very many colorful displays. When I go to the Washington coast I always enjoyed wandering down to the ocean’s edge to catch nature’s colorful end to the day. I could stand there and watch it and take pictures each day. One of the truly wonderful things about sunsets is that no two are ever alike.

A few years ago Leslie and I took a 3 week road trip from Seattle to Las Vegas – by way of Amarillo Texas. We did this so we could drive part of Route 66. We had a wonderful time and saw lots of amazing sights along the way. However one thing that stood out in my mind was the beautiful sunsets we saw as we traveled. Well we are on the road again and I have started standing in awe of the sunsets, and of course taking some pictures here and there. Here are a few pictures and I am sure over the months and years to come I will post more sunset pictures.

Boron CA Sunset 12/11/2010

Mojave CA Sunset 12/13/2010

Pahrump CA Sunset 12/14/2010

Slow Day

Not much happening today. Bill worked on his Honey Do List while I took a much needed nap to help rid myself of this cold I caught. Why do they call it catching a cold? I wouldn’t have caught it if I knew someone threw it at me…

This evening we had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant with our friends. They all had the crab enchiladas and I went for the quesadillas. It was very nice and we chatted. Tomorrow Bill and I will be heading out of California finally.

Hope everyone is having a good week. 11 days till Christmas!

Making Time for Friends a.k.a. A Change in Plans :-)

Yesterday friends of ours called and said they were going to be arriving in Mojave, CA today which was only 35 miles from where we stayed last night. After a little grumpy from Bill about the fact that we would be moving west when we should be heading east we agreed to head back to Mojave to be with our friends for a few days.

Since it was only 35 miles we got a later start but wanted to make it to Mojave in time to get groceries and have dinner ready to be prepared so our friends that were driving 4 hours wouldn’t have to worry about it. Bill made chicken and veggies kabobs and we had chocolate cake and peppermint ice cream and we all sat and chatted the night away. It is always good to see friends. I know on this journey friends are something I want to see. Sadly I know I can’t see everyone but I hope to see as many as possible. My friends truly are my family since my family never really was family.

Enjoy your friends and family they are what makes our lives worthwhile.

RV Shake Down

Several people I have talked to have heard about some of the issues we have had with the RV and think we got a lemon. We know we did not and the reason we know that is because we know stories of REAL lemons. When we were in Wyoming and the water line broke the first time I went to the store at the RV park we were staying at to see if there might be chocolate to help with my pain. LOL While there I talked to the owner of the park and she laughed when I told her about our problems. She sat me down and told me about the first 2 years they had their RV. So many things kept breaking on their BRAND NEW RV that they drove back the Factory and left it there for 18 months. They couldn’t even use it at all. With most RVs (and I don’t know why this is it just is) they require what many RVers call a “shake down period” we bought a used coach so we could miss most of the “Fun” of that but the problem with buying a used coach, and very true in our case, is they may have been sitting un-used for months or longer and when an RV sits things start to deteriorate at a remarkable rate. Diesel engines are not made to sit they are made to run (and run and run). We also think the fridge may have had an issue because it sat un-used which may have caused the clogs in the capillary tubes.

Another part of the fun of owning an RV is how much shaking it goes through as you truck down the road. We sat and talked to one of the Manufacturers of RVs and they said basically when going down the road your RV is in a constant state of a 5 point earthquake. I personally have not been in an earthquake but I can say we shake. The first few days driving down the road I almost had a heart attack several times.  Things rattle, shake, and roll and that was when we didn’t have anything in it!!! Once we loaded it I was white knuckling it down the road for days Every time we moved something would fall, something would break. The first day we moved after loading up a half full bottle of red wine vinegar we forgot in the wrong place slid off the counter and shattered on the tile floor and at that time we were only trying to get out of a parking lot at about 4 mph.

You have to test areas to see where things will stay and where they will fall. My new favorite thing is ticky tacky (many brands call it putty adhesive) everything we leave sitting on countertops that is smaller than a toaster is ticky tackied down so it won’t move. I even have strips of ticky tacky holding my aero-garden in place although the water does tend to slosh out a little if I fill it to the top. The shampoo and conditioner in the shower have to be placed sideways on the floor of the shower before we move or they fall, the items on the counter in the kitchen are put in the sink unless they are stuck down. The bathroom I have tacked down several small baskets to put things like deodorant and hair burshes in so they don’t have to be put away every time we move.  It is quite a process if you stop and think about it but it is just a habit now.

The new flood we had yesterday was from the same leak we had fixed in Wyoming. The fix-it guy had spliced the hose but because of the location of the hose (between the slide and the wall) every time we pack up camp and move the slide in it wiggled. With the last park we had great water pressure which has been unusual and so the combination of everything made it finally give way and let loose a few gallons of water into my living room. We found the parts we needed to re-splice the hose and make it tighter which had not been possible before. We had to take a couple of boards off that look to have only been aesthetic.  Once this board was removed we could get into the area with the hose a lot easier… that’s not to say it was still EASY just easier. You can see from the pictures.

This board covered the hoses making it nearly impossible to get to the hoses.

The Board

Once removed you can see the area around the hoses is still about 5 inches wide.

Broken Hose

The couch to the left is immovable because our heating system actually runs through the base of it. Getting 2 hands in there to hold the splice and tighten the screw was not an easy feat. I was sitting on the couch holding a flashlight with my right hand, left hand holding the splice while Bill lay on the ground trying to tighten the screw, first with a driver than gave up and got a ratchet. It was an interesting thing but we have it fixed again and this time better. We then triple wrapped it with water proof tape. This time it should stay until we can get to Alabama and see if they can re-run a new hose,  that will be a chore.

See the splice in there... tiny little space... difficult to get to.