April 2, 2018 On the way to Death Valley National Park

With heavy hearts we leave the Rincon RV Park Compound that we had been residents of the last three months.

We are headed toward Death Valley NP without too much preparation or planning – set the GPS and go. Trip across Arizona on I -10 was easy and uneventful – now Phoenix was busy but we were able to get through with no incidents.

We did see one motorhome off in the ditch west of Phoenix – we said our prayers as the wrecker was on the scene – hope everyone is okay.

We hit the Mojave Desert and did the scenery get boring – nothing but tumble weeds and vast amount of sand.dea (31)

I will have to stop my bragging about driving 200 miles and finding a campsite – I thought since this was my first trip back on the road I would push it for 300 miles (about half the distance to our destination). When we hit 300 miles we were in the middle of the desert and I can assure you there were no campgrounds in existence.

Driving on we made it to Needles, California (389 miles) and found Fender’s Motel and RV resort on the Colorado River. Site was set up to drive forward in and you can watch the river from the driver’s seat – quite relaxing.

Campground is small but will do after so many miles on the road.

Tuesday woke up to wind (not excessive but constant). Brenda wanted to clean the floor so I took the dogs and toured Needles. When I asked the manager of the park what I could explore she said “What? We have the river and that’s it”

I did drive a portion of old route 66.dea (1)

Took the dogs to two parks and walked and did see the Borax Mule Team wagon.

I did meet Spike – you remember Spike from the Peanuts’ cartoons who landed in Needles.

Relaxing this afternoon.

Wednesday is off to Tecopa, California – you remember we have a grandson named Tecopa – and we had to see this city and/or Indian Chief he was named after.

The Mojave Desert sure is big desert – it was most of all yesterday’s drive and all today’s – forever and ever and no trees or scenery – just mountains in the far background and tumbleweed along the road.

We did stop in Baker, California for lunch and decided to stop at Mad Gus’s Greek Restaurant – parking lot full of trucks and motorcycles and cars – must be good food – and oh yes it was great food and had enough for lunch and dinner – no cooking today.

Arrived in Tecopa about 2 PM and settled in at the Tecopa Hot Springs RV Park – yes there are hot springs in the desert. Temp this afternoon was close to 90 so the hot springs were not first on the list.

Campground is a large parking lot with electrical hook ups – at least we can run the air – and the cost was only $15 with Passport America.

We headed back to Tecopa (about 2 miles away) and rode around town – population is about 50 – not a whole lot here – they do have a post office and school and a restaurant with its own brewery – yes a brewery in the middle of the desert – Death Valley Brewing Company. We stopped and they are not open on Wednesday and Thursday but the owner was sitting on the porch and he did tell us that a group of trekkers were stopping by between 5 and 7 and we could stop by and get a beer.

We did visit the local cemetery and found Villa Anita – Quite the eclectic place – we skipped the tour. Later found out that Anita is a he.

Went back to camp and dropped the dogs off and we went over to the hot springs – found out it is male and female separate and no bathing suits allowed. I ventured into the pool with 4 other out of shape guys and relaxed until the muscles felt weak. Brenda did her pool dipping but no one was in her section.

Then Brenda and I headed back to Tecopa to visit the Death Valley Brewing Co and have a cold one – good beer. He even told us about the Tecopa Brew Co down the road but it was not open.

Thursday is moving day but before I go I need to head back to the hot springs (across the street) and soak for a while. Sure do enjoy splurging on myself and sorry I have no pics of the inside.

Across the desert we go again – sand and tumbleweed.

Arrived in Death Valley NP about 11. We checked the only campground in the area with electric and they were booked for the week so we pulled into Sunset Campground and we are boon docking – no utilities but at least there is a flush bathroom nearby.

Death Valley is the largest national park outside of Alaska and the hottest and driest spot in USA. It was created as a NP in 1994 and comprises 3.4 million acres.

Temperature is warm – about 88 at 11 AM. We did visit the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center and watch the movie, get our stamp and magnet.dea (32)

I really want to say this place is “hell” it is so desolate and hot and no trees and no water and no scenery – except the mountains but in the NP movie one of the Indians that lived here said it was “home” and if she is happy I will be happy here too. Death Valley was home to many different people including the Indians, miners, pioneers, manufacturers and now us tourists.

Temp is 99 by 2 PM and no ice cream stores in sight.

Gas isn’t cheap – glad I filled up in Nevada.dea (75)

We did take the dogs (can’t leave them in the coach when you are boon docking and it is so hot outside) and did a car tour.

First drove through the Artist’s Drive (9 miles) with multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills. It is amazing the rocks and the color palette that is seen.

Then we stopped at the Devil’s Golf Course, which is a part of the river bed (didn’t see any water but I guess it floods on occasion) and the salt that evaporates and forms piles of salt that look like divets.

Then we stopped at Badwater Basin and I could even smell how bad the water was. This is the lowest point in the United States at 282 feet below sea level

– even got to walk out on the salt flats which was cool – not so with the air temp but doing something I haven’t done before.

Did see Telescope Peak that is 11,049 feet above sea level – quite the contrast.DSC_0032

Did stop at the Natural Bridge but it was a mile hike from the trailhead and the dogs couldn’t go on the trail – I wouldn’t do it in this weather anyways.

Friday woke up to 80 degrees – oh my!  These signs were up whenever you changed grade.dea (62)  Which was often!

Headed out with the family and we were doing the 20 Mule Team Borax tour – you remember the commercials from early TV. The actual mining of Borax was done between 1883 and 1889.

First stop was Zabriskie Point (best sunrise and sunset views). Not sure what it had to do with borax but it was on the way. A good hike up the hill and what a view. Brenda and I do the hikes separate because the dogs can’t get on the paved ADA trail incase coyotes might attack.  The rock formations were spectacular!

Then we visited the 20 Mule Team Canyon where the wagons hauled the final product of Borax to the east to be packaged and sold.

Then over to the Harmony Borax Works processing plant.dea (89)

Then we finally made it to the Borax Museum. Lots of antique articles that were used in the mining and processing of borax. Even had a sheet of paper with everything identified on it and what it was used for – useful to help understand the history.

After lunch we headed out to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. 14 acres of sand dunes in the middle of the desert and because of the location of the mountains and wind direction these sand dunes stay in the same area.

On the way home we visited the Salt Creek – yes there is a creek – flowing – in the middle of the desert 200 plus feet below sea level. Nice boardwalk along the creek with kiosks explaining what was going on. Even had pup fishes swimming in the water.

Brenda attended a ranger talk on the “Milky Way” to get her “ranger” badge. The night sky is amazing here.

Temp hit 101 this afternoon. Need to get out of town or at least the desert.

Saturday temp is expected to hit 102 and rain and high winds – good enough excuse to head east.

We did prep the coach to leave and headed to the other side of the mountain to see the “Wildrose Charcoal Kilns” built in 1876 that were used to provide fuel to the mining industry back in the day. Long drive but the mountains are so beautiful with all the different colors.

We made it to the end of the paved road and began our accent up the gravel road – rough going with some huge potholes and no kilns in sight. Finally stopped and walked the dogs for their second morning walk and we climbed the road and finally found the kilns.

Back to home and we said good bye to Death Valley. I can see why it got its name but it is very beautiful and has a variety of aspects to make the park something special. We didn’t do everything we could but will return during a cooler time period.

Despite the heat and dryness there still was beauty.

Scotty’s Castle was closed for repairs due to a flash flood and will be open in 2020.

Now towards Salt Lake City, Utah to see grandson and family.

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