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