Monthly Archives: March 2016

Weeks 30 – 31: Death Valley and Alabama Hills

Death Valley, California

It was only about 100 miles to Death Valley from our last stop.  I hadn’t been there before and didn’t know what to expect.  I guess in my mind’s eye it looked something like the Sahara Desert…man, was I mistaken.

First of all Death Valley National Park is very mountainous with a valley in between two mountain ranges.  It is renowned for its colorful and complex geology and its extremes of elevation that support a great diversity of life.  It is the ancestral homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe that still live there today. Ninety-one percent of the park is designated wilderness. The park is 3.4 million acres that stretch across California and Nevada.  The highest elevation is 11,049 feet and the lowest is -282 feet (that below sea level at Badwater). The Valley itself is the hottest and driest place in the United States. The highest recorded temperature is 134 degrees and it gets an average of two inches of rain per year. On average Death Valley is the hottest place in the world!   The valley is a long, narrow basin walled by high, steep mountain ranges. The steep mountain ranges trap the heat in the valley, thus the very high temperatures.

Looking into the valley

Looking into the valley

Overlook at Death Valley

Overlook at Death Valley

The bottom of Death Valley

The bottom of Death Valley

Death Valley 284 feet below sea level with Chyerl and Jesse at the salt flat

Death Valley 284 feet below sea level with Chyerl and Jesse at the salt flat

A lot of salt at the bottom of Death Valley

A lot of salt at the bottom of Death Valley

Table salt in the salt flat

Table salt in the salt flat

We camped right in the park at the Sunset Campground for half-price with our National Senior Park Pass.  The temperature was comfortable; in the 70s during the day.  Our timing was perfect because we arrived during the Super Bloom!  Every 10 – 15 years, the valley has a super bloom of flowers when the rain and weather conditions are just right. It was a wonderful sight to behold.  We took a car ride to see the flowers.

Death Valley super bloom

Death Valley super bloom

Super bloom

Super bloom

Desert blooms

Desert blooms

How do they survive?

How do they survive?

We took a short hike into one of the rock canyons.  It was pretty hot that day when we weren’t in the shade.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Hiding in the shade

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A little hike in Death Valley

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Shade!  Let’s stay here.

 

I am so happy we were able to catch the Super Bloom and investigate Death Valley and I will definitely return again.  It was absolutely amazing and for me it was one of the highlights of the entire trip.

 

Lone Pine, California  (Alabama Hills)

When we left Death Valley we drove west on Hwy 190 to reach Lone Pine, California.  Our destination was the Alabama Hills.  Since there was a large elevation increase in order to get over the mountain range, Chyerl and I drove the cars.  I led the way with Ralph and Jesse in the RVs and Chyerl bringing up the rear.  It was a little caravan!  The road over the mountain was narrow and twisty in some places and I was glad I was in the car!  As we drove down the mountain the view was overwhelming and brought tears to my eyes.  The eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains dusted with snow  came into view behind the lower, rounded, oddly shaped contours of the  Alabama Hills with a brilliant blue sky above it all.  It was stunning!  The photos don’t do it justice.  I wish a had cameras in my eyes so I could capture what I was  seeing exactly as I saw it.  (Along with Google in my brain, and I’d be all set!).

Mount Whitney

Mount Whitney

Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains

Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains

We camped at the Tuttle Creek BLM campground for $4 per night with our Senior Pass.  What a deal.  It was a great small campground with wonderful views and a babbling brook behind our site.

Arial view of our campsite via Jesse's drone.

Arial view of our campsite via Jesse’s drone.

Our camping site at Tuttle Creek BLM

Our camping site at Tuttle Creek BLM

Flowing water behind our campsite!

Flowing water behind our campsite!

I’d read about the Alabama Hills in the Wheeling It blog and noted it as a place I wanted to visit.  We got close a couple of years ago, but it was early summer and the weather was too hot.  The best time to visit the area is in the Spring and Fall.  So our timing was perfect.  The Alabama Hills are known  for movie filming since the 1920s.  Movie Road winds through the hills and unique boulders where many films and TV series were filmed.  Most of the films and shows were westerns, but not all. Since the 1920s, over 400 movies have been filmed there. Some are: Gunga Din, Yellow Sky, How the West Was Won, The Lone Ranger, and more recently, Tremors, Star Trek Generations, Gladiator, Iron Man and Django Unchained.  Many, many movie stars have walked in the area.  There is a film festival held here in October and I would love to go.

The road we came up

Movie Road in the Alabama Hills

Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains

Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains

Jesse rock climbing

Jesse rock climbing

Guess who?

Guess who?

The unique rocks of the Alabama Hills

The unique rocks of the Alabama Hills

Mount Whitney through the arch rock

Mount Whitney through the arch rock

The Lovers

The Lovers

The Lone Ranger's belt buckle...yeah, right!

The Lone Ranger’s belt buckle…yeah, right!

I made it!

I made it!

Amazing where flowers will grow.

Amazing where flowers will grow.

The Lone Pine Film History Museum is something not to miss if you’re in the area. If offers the entire history of film making in the area and was totally worth the $5 entrance fee.  We went to the museum and did some hiking in the Alabama Hills.  I’m so happy we were able to come here at the right time (weather-wise) and I will definitely return again.

Helping out

Helping out

Movie Museum and old mail coach

Movie Museum and old mail coach

Stops on the mail route in our neck of the woods.

Stops on the mail route in our neck of the woods.

After we left Lone Pine we headed up to Bishop for one overnight before the last drive over the Sierras back to Sacramento.  We had to leave a couple of days early in order to avoid a winter storm moving into the Tahoe area.  We weren’t anxious to see how a 33 foot motorhome drives in the snow.  It was wonderful to see the snow in the Sierras and the reservoirs nearly full.  Thank God for El Nino!

The Happy Campers!

The Happy Campers!

Sacramento

We arrived home on March 4. As I write this  I cannot believe how fast the last four weeks have gone.  It takes days to unload and clean the RV and then we had to put our things back in place.  We rented the house to Ralph’s daughter and a couple of her friends, so we had to pack up our personal belongings to make room for the girls.  It took another week to get the house back in order.  And of course there was personal business, UCD class stuff and reconnecting with friends.

The trip lasted 6.5 months and nearly 10,000 miles on the RV and many miles on the car.  We live in a very diverse (people and geography) country and it was a dream come true to be able to see it like we did.  That said, there is no place in this country like the West.  It is the most beautiful and it is not so densely populated.  My heart sang when we drove past the “Welcome to California” sign.  There truly is no place like home. We were very happy to have Chyerl and Jesse join us for the last two weeks of our adventure.  It was really fun to explore, eat, watch movies and play Yahtzee with the Snows. Thanks for joining us!

Ralph was ready to get off the road; I was not.  I could have kept going for a long time.  There may be some solo travel in my future.  I could wander around the West and be perfectly happy. (I think)  I even have a name for my solo travel blog:  o-solo-meo.  What do you think?

Thanks for following along on our travels.

Until the next trip…

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Weeks 27 – 29: Yuma and Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Yuma

This was our second year back in Yuma and this year was even better because my nephew’s family lives there now and we driveway surfed for a week.  The next week our friends Chyerl and Jesse joined us  camping in the desert off Sidewinder Road about 14 miles west of Yuma (which is actually in California).  I was surprised by the way I felt when I saw the “Welcome to California” sign.  I felt really happy to be back in the state I’ve called home since 1979.

We parked in Kevin and Mariya’s driveway where they an an RV spot. I still don’t know how Ralph backed our 33 foot Motorhome in the spot. As you can see from the photo below, it was a very tight spot, so tight in fact that we couldn’t get the door open all the way and had to squeeze through it for the week we were parked there.

Driveway surfing...we barely fit

Driveway surfing…we barely fit

We took advantage of Kevin, Kevin’s tools and the many RV stores in the Yuma area to complete a long fix-it list. Ralph installed a new toilet, kitchen faucet, water pump, check the slides, light fixture above the kitchen sink, valve extender on a tire, and hinge under the bed. I also purchased new curtains for the front of the rig. Yuma is an RVer’s dream. There must be 50 RV parks filled with mostly Canadian’s (seasonal) and many RV stores and dealers. Yuma also has three “swap meet” type marketplaces for you to spend your money in. We bought a sun screen to hang from our awning to block the sun and a roll up table to use when there is no table at the campsite. Both things we’ve wanted to buy for a while and they had very good prices at the swap meet.

We had such a good time with the desert Furtah’ s. Mason, my grandnephew, is almost four years old and was so much fun to spend time with. He warmed up to us pretty quickly and had Ralph playing with him and his toys in no time! After we moved to the boondocking site on Sidewinder, they came out to visit us twice.

Arizona Swap Meet...the desert Furtahs: Kevin, Mariya and Mason

Arizona Swap Meet…the desert Furtahs: Kevin, Mariya and Mason


An usie...Mason and I

An usie…Mason and I

We all went across the border into Los Algodones, Mexico for the day. Ralph was our tour guide because he has been there a couple times before. Mariya wants to get some dental work done at the same dentist that Ralph had dental work done. The seven of us (including Chyerl and Jesse) walked across the border and the four blocks to the dental office. Mariya met the dental staff and checked out the office and made an appointment for a full consultation in March. We then went to a great restaurant for lunch and drinks. For seven lunches, four beers, one margarita and a couple of soft drinks the bill was $44.00. We purchased several things from the vendors that like the sidewalks and then walked back across the border. There wasn’t even a line at the border crossing. We all had a fun time and I think the desert Furtah’ s will be returning in the future.

Mason's first trip to Mexico

Mason’s first trip to Mexico


Colorful Mexico

Colorful Mexico


Mexico

Mexico


A day in Mexico...great lunch

A day in Mexico…great lunch

Chyerl, Jesse, Ralph and I went Geocaching one day and found eight geocaches.  They were all located along Sidewinder Road and pretty easy to find.  We had a long walk and came across this marked grave.

 

RIP in the desert

RIP in the desert


Looking for a geocache

Looking for a geocache


We found it...actually eight of them!

We found it…actually eight of them!

The next day Kevin, Mariya and Mason came out to our campsite with the s’mores fixings and we had a campfire. Little Mason really enjoyed himself out in the “wild”. Jesse got out his drone and flew around the area video taping.  When I get a copy I will post it here.

Drone pilot and co-pilot

Drone pilot and co-pilot


Drone flying over the desert

Drone flying over the desert


Another perfect Ralph campfire

Another perfect Ralph campfire


Desert Furtah's at the campfire

Desert Furtah’s at the campfire


S'mores in action!

S’mores in action!

I never tire of the beautiful desert sunsets.  I was very sad to leave Yuma and the “kids” and look forward to my next time in Yuma.

Desert Sunset

Desert Sunset

Lake Havasu City

From Yuma we caravanned with Chyerl and Jesse up to Lake Havasu City and stayed in the back lot of Prospector’s RV, the same place we stayed last year. We took advantage of their pool and showers and had a pleasant three day stay. We took Cheryl and Jesse to the Desert Bar. They couldn’t believe we took the Mini Cooper up the Desert Bar road last year. This year we had the Honda CRV and it was just as bumpy! We also went to an old car show at SARA park speedway. Also we had to make a stop at the London Bridge.

We started the last part of our trip back to California and the next stop: Death Valley!

Categories: RV, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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