Friday, October 30, 2009

Death Valley week 1.

Location, Furnace Creek in Death Valley, CA

I have been lazy and busy. Busy with trips here in the park and lazy when I haven’t been doing anything else.

We had wind for two days with gusts to 65 MPH, blowing dust and much lower temperatures. Today we are getting back to normal with rising temperatures and no wind.

I have been playing tourist guide to some of the guys who have never been here before which also takes me back to places I haven’t visited in years. Places like Badwater, Dante’s View, Artists Drive, etc.

Yesterday 3 of us took Nobbies Jeep up Echo Canyon to the Inyo Mine and over the top of Echo Pass to the Armagossa Valley on the east side of Death Valley. It was an all day trip with lots of bouncing around in washes and rock climbing and then a long drive back via Hwy 373 and 190.

Nobbie was really pleased with the way his Jeep operated and it really can climb some incredible rock falls. Of course, it is all tricked out for off-road 4x4 driving.

Tomorrow is grocery shopping in Pahrump day. As usual we will make it an all day trip with stops at Shoshone for their Death Valley Days and China Ranch for a date shake before going into Pahrump. No stop at Tecopa for a soak in the hot springs as I am the only one interested in that.

No photos as the WiFi here is slow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Desert Trip Day 5

Location, Beatty, NV

The temperature overnight was a low of 41 but it warmed up niceley during the day to the high 70's. A beautiful day.

We didn’t rush out of camp as usual this morning but eventually some of us decided to visit Rhyolite via the old railroad bed from Beatty.

This took us right to the Rhyolite train depot.

Eventually we moved down to the Bottle House which was rebuilt and stabilized a few years ago. It is a shame that had to be done but the walls were crumbling and the building would have collapsed without the rehab.

A section of a wall on the bottle house.

We then checked out the artwork nearby. Each piece has a story which a local volunteer passed along to us.

The last supper.

Originally designated as Eve with a statue Adam to be placed later. Locals objected and Adam was never completed. Each block of Eve represents a pixel in a photo.

We stopped at the museum in Beatty which is very good and then drove back to the RV Park for lunch.

After lunch we stopped at the Chamber of Commerce building before driving down Hwy 95to Caraera where marble was mined. The marble was of poor quality and not commercially viable.

We checked out a local mine which also gave us a great view of the valley.

Back at the RV Park I started getting things ready to leave tomorrow morning. Everyone else will drive to Death Valley while I will drop the trailer at Death Valley Junction and go to Pahrump, NV for groceries before picking up the trailer and proceeding to Death Valley.

There is limited WiFi in Death Valley so I don’t know if I can post to the blog while there or not. Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Desert Trip Day 4

Location, Beatty, NV

Today’s trip started out with another flat tire before we even got out of the parking lot. A quick trip to the tire store for repairs (a small piece of juniper wood in the tire) and we were on our way. We drove North of Lida Junction on Hwy 95 and then East on a good road to Ralston, a siding on the old Las Vegas and Tonopah rail bed. All that remains is a converted box car used for storage. This box car shows up in an old photo from 1968.

We then took a side trip to a falls in the mountains nearby. There is enough water coming out of the mountain for animals to drink.

Back to the rail bed at Ralston we continued north towards Goldfield mostly driving on the rail bed. After a stop for lunch, we continued on to Goldfield.

In Goldfield we found the remains of the old Las Vegas and Tonopah depot.

Later we drove North on Hwy 95 to Klondike which was on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. It was a watering place for the railroad and there is a deep cistern near the rail bed.

We drove back to the RV Park and arrived about 5 Pm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Desert Trip Day 3

Location, Beatty, NV

Any RV trip or 4-wheel trip plan is only good until you begin the trip. Once begun, anything can happen as we have discovered. Yesterdays 2 flat tires necessitated using most of today to get the tires repaired or replaced. It also meant traveling all the way to Pahrump, NV for this. Both Jeeps made that trip today.

Also, Nobbies Jeep has transmission problems so it will be headed back South tomorrow for repairs. Nobbies friend Paul will follow in Nobbies pick-up in case there is a problem.

In the meantime, the rest of us took a couple of trips South of Beatty today. We explored some older mining areas and did see one new mining operation. The camp had all new trailers and vehicles with lots of earth being moved.

Old miners cabin.

The weather turned cold last night but we did have clear skies today with a rather cold wind. It is supposed to warm up again tomorrow. The wind has already stopped tonight.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Desert Trip Day 2

Location, Beatty, NV

Desert trip day two began at the point we ended yesterday along the Tonopah and Tidewater rail bed. However, today we are driving on the rail bed itself as there is no road paralleling the bed. When I say driving I really mean going forward until a washout is in our path which means driving off the rail bed until we get around the washout. This occurs every few minutes which means progress is very slow.

We came across our first wooden culvert today. Most of these culverts have long ago been washed out and have disappeared with time.

Our travels eventually reached Hwy 95 and continued on. We again drove some good and some very bad road bed. One of the Jeeps picked up a large nail in a tire so the spare was put on. Within a mile the other Jeep had a leak in a tire so its spare was put on. At that point we decided to have lunch and discuss our options.

After lunch the Jeeps decided to drive to Tonopah to a tire shop for repairs while the Pathfinder group drove past Bonnie Claire of yesterday to visit what we call the “Castle”.
Actually it is called “The Hard luck Castle” by its owner. After a mile drive on a very good road we arrived to find a sign which said “Gone for water – be back in an hour”.

We took a few pictures and returned to the RV Park.

The rest of the group got back from Tonopah after not having any luck with the tire repairs. A storm front was rapidly approaching with projected rain and winds of 40 – 50 MPH. We gathered up the loose gear and decided to eat indoors tonight. It did rain a little and the wind did blow but not at the extremes predicted. I think we are at the southern edge of the front.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Desert trip Day 1

Location, Beatty, NV

Today’s trip was our first attempt to follow the Tonopah and Tidewater rail bed from Rhyolite to Goldfield, NV. We decided to start our trek from the junction of the road to Phinny Canyon where it crosses the railed coming out of Rhyolite. We had driven the rail bed to the south of this junction in the past so now we wanted to follow it north from the junction.

Our trips always start at 8:30 AM which at times causes some grousing about the early hour. All in good humor of course. With lunches packed, folding chairs loaded, maps in hand, and radios checked we are off to adventure.

Today we actually decided to explore the town of Pioneer first as several of our group had not visited this mining site before.

Later, we drove up Hwy 95 to the road to Phinney canyon and in to the railroad crossing of this road. Unfortunately, the road bed at the crossing lies within Death Valley National Park so is undriveable as no off road driving is allowed.

Back tracking to a driveable road we finally headed north to where the road intersected with the railed. This also became our lunch stop.

After lunch we had a very rough 16 mile drive to the Bonnie Claire town site. At one point we stopped to explore remains of the telegraph line which parallel the railed.

We stopped to explore the remains of Bonnie Claire through which a branch of the railroad went.

Our next stop was to Bonnie Claire Lake on Hwy 267 and a look at the moving rocks. These are much like the moving rocks at the Race Track in Death Valley. Here however you can drive right to the rocks.

We returned to the RV Park via Hwy 95 about 4:30 PM. A long hard day but tomorrow we will start where we ended today.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Location, Beatty, NV

Thursday and Friday are sort of a blur to me. I know we picked up Dick’s friend John at the Las Vegas airport on Thursday around 5 Pm and Nobby and Paul arrived shortly there after at the RV Park. We ate at the Main Street Station buffet which was their Steak and Scampi night. It did not disappoint any one.

Friday was all involved with getting Nobbies refrigerator fixed. It wouldn’t cool so he took it to a local shop that did RV repairs and they replaced the thermistor which senses when to cool and also the circuit board which didn’t allow the refer to work on 110 volts.

We spent much of the afternoon babying the refer to get it to cool down in the heat as it was 89 outside.

Friday night we ate dinner at the Bay Café again. Good as ever. The prime rib dinner is outstanding.

Later, I took all the new guys (who haven’t seen it before) to the Rio and Masquerade in the Sky. It sure wasn’t what it used to be. Harrah’s has taken the heart out of the original Brazilian celebration and replaced the Samba ladies with scantily costumed go-go dancers.

This appears to be a theme of all Las Vegas now. Even on Fremont Street where every casino now has an outside bar on the street. Several casinos use the same scantily clad girls as blackjack dealers when they aren’t dancing or serving drinks.

The hourly shows on the large overhead canopy are works of art. With the addition of digital photography as input to the display, anything can now be shown. I had hoped to see the 10 PM tribute to Queen last night but arrived back from the Rio too late.

Today, Saturday we checked out of the RV Park and drove to Beatty, NV and the Beatty RV Park. The drive out of Las Vegas was not without its own adventures. We stopped at Hwy 95 and Durango for groceries before driving on to Armagossa Valley rest stop for lunch. We arrived in Beatty about 2 PM.

Our friend Al arrived from El Dorado Hills, CA yesterday and Paul arrived from Goleta about 4 PM today. That makes 8 of us all together with 3 off road vehicles to explore with.

We all share dinners so I cooked tonight and won’t cook again until we are in Death Valley at weeks end.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shopping in Las Vegas

Location, Las Vegas, NV

A slow start to the morning with overcast skies from the rain on the coast. No rain here however and by evening we had clear skies and 80 degrees. Very pleasant.

We eventually got a plan together for the day which included several stops for shopping. The first stop was a near by map shop which had every kind of map you could wish for.

The second stop was a radio shop looking for info on scanners etc. From there we made our way to Harbor Freight where some serious shopping took place.

It was now time for lunch and our favorite ritual stop at the In and Out Resturant on Tropicana and I-15 was the plan.

After lunch we got on I-15 South and drove to Rose Way and the new Camping World store which is in the old Wheelers RV location at the South end of Las Vegas Blvd.

Heading back north we stopped at Fry’s Electronics for a printer purchase for Dick while I picked up a couple of printer cartridges.

After Fry’s it was back on I-15 North and a quick trip to the RV Park.

Meanwhile, as we left this morning, Jeff’s door lock on his RV broke as he pulled the key out so he called AAA who called a locksmith. The guy showed up right after we got back but told Jeff he couldn’t help him. Jeff is now in a panic trying to figure out how to get in his RV. He decided maybe he could get in through the escape window by the bed. However, this is only opened from the inside, normally.

Eventually he removed all the screws on the top of the window and was able to reach in and release the latch. The window was removed and he crawled in to tackle the door lock. This took about a half hour to remove parts and eventually bend a tab to get to the dead bolt slide. He had already purchased a new lock set while we were at Camping World so it was just a matter of reassembling everything.

We later went to dinner at the Triple 7 Brewery at Main Street Station. Good ribs for $9.95.

We walked down to Fremont Street to watch the 9 PM show which was a repeat of last night’s 9 PM show, American Pie. I would like to see the 10 PM show which is a tribute to Queen but we are all party poopers so came back to the RV.

Tomorrow 3 more of our group arrives. Two by RV and jeep and one is flying in around 4:20 PM so we need to pick him up. We also have a little more shopping to do, of course. :)

Las Vegas bound.

Location, Las Vegas, NV

I did leave Monday about 1 PM after buying propane and groceries. The sky was overcast but no rain or wind and traffic was light. I made good time and stopped in Mojave for fuel and to Call Dick to find out where they were as they left in the morning also. They had been held up by a truck fire East of Mojave so planned to spend the night in Baker.

I calculated that Baker was about 2 1/2 hours away for me which would be about 6:30 PM by the time I got there. It would just be dark by then. With no problems on the road and no evidence of a truck fire, I pulled into Baker behind the Mad Greek restaurant about 6:40 PM, just after dark.

After a quick set up, Dick, Jeff and I went to the Bun Boy restaurant to eat. Talk about pricy!!!! It was $7.99 for a double hamburger, fries, and a small salad. All the other burgers were around $10 each. Enough said.

I went to bed at 8:30 PM and read a while. Woke up at 6 AM but stayed in bed until 6:30. Shaved and had a cup of tea and we left around 7:50 for Primm, NV which is about and hour up the road. Arrived at Primm and parked back of Buffalo Bills Casino where we had breakfast in the café. A BIG breakfast. Eggs, pancakes, 2 bacon and 2 sausages for $3.99. That’s more like it! :)

I called the RV Park in Las Vegas to tell them we would like to come in a day early. They accommodated us but not in our original sites which is ok.

We drove to the Outlet Mall where Jeff was looking for pot lids at Williams Sonoma and later Dick wanted to look at jeans at a Lee outlet. He actually found some as did Jeff and I. I bought a pair of Lee jeans for $16. Not bad.

I call the RV Park again and received our assigned sites so we drove on to Las Vegas. Not a lot of traffic on I-15 so we made good time. After parking in our sites we walked over to reception and checked in.

After getting all set up we hung around as it is overcast and gloomy but still 75 degrees. Can’t beat it.

There is area wide WiFi here in downtown Las Vegas but it is very pricey, like $6.99 per hour or $49.99 per month. I think I will wait and post this from the casino as it has free WiFi. *

We ate at the Bay City Diner in the Golden Gate Club. We all had prime rib for $8.99 and it was very good. After eating we watched the 9 PM light show on Fremont Street. It was Don McCleans American Pie song. Excellent show.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Getting ready for the Desert trip

Location, Home, CA

After a relaxing week of camping at El Capitan State Park on the California coast, we are back home getting ready for the dessert trip.

The weather at El Cap was fantastic although we did have wind the first night. The remaining time was very pleasant and relaxing. The group we were with are all good cooks and love to eat so food was talked about a lot. I got in the act by putting on my chefs apron and hat while cooking chicken breasts. It was good for a laugh. Of course, everyone who went by the campsite sure looked.

Chef d'jour.

We came home Friday around noon and I spent the afternoon scrubbing the RV roof. That is definitely not my favorite thing to do. It was so slippery that I was afraid to stand up for fear I would fall off the roof so I stayed on my knees the whole time. I also washed the rest of the RV. It really needs waxing but that will have to wait.

I think I have everything under control for the trip but still need to buy groceries tomorrow.

A look at the weather suggests that we may get rain tomorrow night and Tuesday so I will try to get out of here tomorrow afternoon. Normally I would go to the Boron rest stop east of Mojave but it is closed until February 2010. I may stay in Mojave somewhere. I don’t want to drive in the rain and I don’t want to drive at night if I can avoid it.

I may have WiFi while in Las Vegas and will try to post later in the week.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Busy, busy, busy!

Location, Home, CA

The days have flown by this week. The woodshed has been all consuming and has taken up all my time until this morning. The roof is done and the walls are up. The only remaining item is the door and that will wait until I get back from my desert trip.

Today I concentrated on getting everything ready to go for tomorrow. We are off for a week of camping with friends. If I had thought about it when we agreed to go, I would have declined as it is very close to my fall trip. However, after spending all day whittling down my departure list this morning and spending the afternoon getting packed, I think we will be ready to leave by noon tomorrow.

We will return home on Friday morning and I hope to wash the RV before I back it into the yard. I have until Tuesday morning to complete everything else for the trip. I will do my shopping on Monday, and repack the truck as well then.

We won’t have internet so will be out of touch until Friday.