Thursday, October 30, 2008

Death Valley

Location, Death Valley

I have been in Death Valley since Friday the 24th. The weather is very warm during the day, about 95 degrees, and absolutely perfect at night around the campfire. Overnight temperatures are in the 65 degree range which makes sleeping with just a sheet comfortable.

We have done little since we arrived. I did make the trip to Beatty and down through Titus canyon on Monday. It was a very nice trip, my first, in the canyon. It was one of the few places I had not visited in all the trips I have made here.

Bottle house at Rhyolite, NV

I rechecked some of the geoglyphs (rock alignments) that I had found in the past. I am always concerned that they have been disturbed by people or washed away by water. In this case, all were still intact, which at times amazes me.

I hope to post this today as there is WiFi here at the visitor center and the grocery store. I want to add some photos also.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Desert Ramblin

Location, On The Road

I will post this as a catch-up log of the past 7 days on the road when I get Wi-fi some where.

I left home on Wednesday morning at 8:55 AM and had only normal traffic on the drive and arrive at Calico Ghost Town campground North of Barstow, CA about 2 PM. My friends were already there having spent the night in the nearby Boron rest stop. By the way, this rest stop will be closed for about a year and a half while they rebuild it. I wonder if they will still allow overnight camping.

Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning we relaxed. Thursday afternoon we walked the streets of Calico Ghost Town which was getting ready for Halloween and the big Ghost Town Haunt weekend.

Friday morning we took the one hour drive to Baker, CA and parked behind The Mad Greek Restaurant in the large lot for RV’s and trucks. Al and Mike arrived shortly after we got there and we took Al’s Pathfinder for a trip to the new Kelso Depot in the Mojave Preserve. The Park Service had this historical train station rebuilt for use as an information and display center for the preserve which was created in 1994 by the Desert Protection Act. We ate our sack lunch in their picnic area before driving to a lava tube the park ranger had told us about. The tube is accessible by a metal ladder. Much of the tube has collapsed as the lava cooled. We next drove to the Aiken Mine which still has all the loading conveyers still in the mine.

After arriving back at Baker, we awaited the arrival of Nobby and Deana from southern CA. The pulled in an hour or so latter. After some snacks we all went to the Mad Greek Restaurant for dinner.

On Saturday we drove to Primm, NV on the California/Nevada border and parked behind Buffalo Bills Casino in the large lot they use for trucks and RV’s. This lot will be our home for a few days. Our goal here is to drive the old Borax Traction Road which originated outside of Death Valley and ended in Nipton south of Primm. Our first obstacle was to get access to the road from Primm. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has closed all access from Primm to keep the ATV’ers from tearing up the dry lake bed and surrounding area. We drove south to the Nipton road and accessed the Traction Road from there. After driving back towards Primm we were stopped by more locked gates and signs the BLM had posted. We did drive further south and found the old road bed as it headed for a railroad siding on the Union Pacific Rail Road.

We ate dinner at the buffet in Primm. It was ok.

On Sunday we drove North on I-5 to the Goodsprings exit and headed west to some old mining areas. After looking over this area we had lunch near an old mine before driving further west to the Sandy Valley where we picked up the traction road. We drove the old road south towards Stateline Pass. At the pass we found the road to be in good condition but it soon ended as if they stopped building it. Our recourse was to back track or take a very old road down into the wash. Of course we took the wash as a way out. After losing the road and driving cross country, we eventually got onto the better road out and ended up at Primm. Unfortunately, we ruined a tire while driving cross country by driving a stick through the side wall.

Dining in the desert.

On Monday we drove back to Baker and then towards Shoshone, CA on Hwy 127 to the BLM area outside of Tecopa, CA. Tecopa is famous for its hot springs. We spent the afternoon exploring old mines east of Tecopa.

On Tuesday we drove towards Pahrump, NV to continue part of the traction road however, the road in both directions was closed by BLM signs. BUMMER!!! We decided to drive south towards Tecopa by a dirt road which also was closed by the BLM. Our only option was to go back to Shoshone and then to Tecopa. While in Shoshone we talked to a BLM officer about the closure areas and found out the Traction Road now lies within BLM Wilderness areas so is closed to all traffic.

That ends any possibility of ever driving the road. We decided to go to China Ranch south of Tecopa and have a date shake for lunch. The temperature had been creeping up, so a date shake really tasted good. After lunch we drove east of Tecopa and explored some open pit talc mines. These were very extensive and went for a couple miles along the hills. Part of the group returned to camp while the rest of use drove further east to more mines. We saw 2 big horn sheep on a ridge above us. A great sighting. We drove by a round about road back to camp and arrived after 5 PM.

The wind came up last night about the time we were ready to go in for the night. I finally pulled the slides on the RV about midnight as the wind was trying to lift the RV. I rocked and rolled all night so consequently got little sleep. The wind is still blowing this morning.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Almost ready to go!

Location, At Home, CA

My arms are sore! I washed the trailer on Saturday and then started to wax it. I used Nu-Finish which is not a wax, at least that’s what it says on the bottle. I have been using it for years on my cars and it is supposed to be good for a year. The trailer does look good except on the side that gets sun on it. There the side feels smooth to the touch but is not as shiny as the other side. I really should put another coat of wax on that sun damaged side but may not have time tomorrow as I have a dentist appointment and Clyda has a doctor appointment. Also, I need to buy groceries for myself and to leave some here for Clyda and Craig.

I will be leaving around 9 AM Wednesday morning for Barstow, CA. There I will meet a couple of the guys for 2 days and then move on to our 4-wheel drive trip. I hope I have everything done by then. My checklist has a lot of checks on it so that is good. My meal plans are in good shape; at least I hope they are. I will have a chance to pick up groceries twice while on the trip.

I am doing computer backups right now. I do that every couple months. My backup hard drives are getting really full so I need to write some of the older files off to DVD’s for long term storage when I get back.

I don’t know if I will have any access to the internet while I am gone. Last year we did have access while in Death Valley for a short time. The person controlling the WI-Fi didn’t know what they were doing and cut people off but refused to look at his settings. It made everyone mad but he was too stubborn to change anything after he made his decision. I hope it is better this year.

If I don’t have Wi-Fi anywhere along the way it will be November 7th before I get back home. I am actually coming home early to attend my nieces wedding reception. Until next time.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Break in the weather.

Location, At Home, CA

Well, the weather broke today and we lost our heat wave. Actually it was a very nice day until late afternoon when the “sundowner winds” started. Shortly after the winds came, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. Tomorrow is supposed to be only in the 60’s.

I took advantage of the drop in temperatures and poured the cement around my new drain. I formed it as a basin to feed the water runoff to the drain itself.

I did a little bush trimming and cleaned the air cleaner in the truck. The service shop mentioned the filter yesterday when I had the truck in for lube, oil, and filter along with a new transmission gasket. The gasket had been leaking which of course left a stain on my concrete pad.

Tomorrow I hope to wash the trailer and start the wax job on it. Something I don’t really look forward to.

Late today I received sad news that one of my cousins had passed away. We were not close but in recent years had spent some time together. He and his wife spent 4 days at our house while touring the area and I had stayed with them after a family reunion a few years ago.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Slow progress on my chores

Location, At Home, CA

It has been HOT here the last few days. I have been trying to finish the patio roof but it is just too hot to climb up there and work. I did manage to get all the tin pieces cut and installed but still need to caulk everything.

So, I have been doing some other things. I finished the drain around the shed and scrubbed the bugs off the front of the RV. I still need to wash and wax the rig if the weather permits.

Did I mention that it rained on Saturday? Not a lot, but it kept me from doing much outside.

I started to shred the tree cuttings the other day but the shredder wouldn’t cooperate. In fact it caught fire while I was using it. The pull starter wheel rubbed and set the plastic on fire which started the pull cord burning. I had to remove the shroud to put out the fire. All the pull cord mechanism burned up so I need a whole new shroud now.

I sent out the first draft of the food assignments for the desert trip today. I am sure someone will find a problem with it but that’s the way it goes.

I took the truck in for lube, oil, and filter today. They are keeping it overnight as they had to replace the transmission gasket as it was leaking.

Clyda has been venturing out with the wheelchair a couple times a day. She goes down the street just for something else to do. She uses her crutches more than the wheelchair now. She is allowed to put a maximum of 30 pounds on her foot while in the boot. That’s not much but it is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hot days work!

Location, At Home, CA

Fantastic birthday party for our friend Don on Saturday which included a band playing Blues music, great food, and lots of people who we don’t see very often.

I am trying to get all my fall work done but it is hard to do with all the other things going on. Tomorrow we are meeting friends who are camping, for dinner.

I did get some things done this afternoon even with the high temperatures. I installed a plastic edging around the flower beds which will keep the dirt in the bed when it rains. I started installing a drain line in back of my garden shed. There is a drain around part of the shed already but this extends that drain.

I cut and realigned the new drain to the front yard so now I can finish by pouring cement around it to make a nice drain pan.

I am working on a fix to the patio roof to keep leaves and debris from getting under the flashing. It involves cutting 40 pieces of tin to fit them in the roof channels.

I am also working on food assignments for my upcoming desert trip. I have been doing this for years but sometimes it tries my patience as people keep changing when and how long they will be on the trip. I am sure by now everyone is getting anxious to find out when and how much they will need to cook.