Brad, I hope that doesn't come with a slack jaw and a little drool down the chin.
My turn, bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb, and that's with my finger between my lips going back and forth at high speed. Cheese and rice Bryan, is your tour booklet on sale at Death Valley? It sure as heck ought to be. I've never seen anything like it and as Silver said, I appreciate all the time it must have taken to put together. This one is in my "save" folder. It's funny Bryan, I start every trip report trying to be you, yet within a sentence or two realize I don't have the patience or knowledge to back me up. Outstanding from every level.
Your photos do a good job of showing some of the huge expanse of DVNP. I'm going to keep an eye out in my local used book stores for a few of those guide books. Right now I'm reading up on Alaska so a book on Death Valley would be a good contrast.
Looking at that long list of hikes you made you must have worn out a pair of boots during your visit. And having old friends to share the experience with makes it so special.
The hardest part for me when hiking is making the decision to say "I've gone far enough". The desire to see what is around the next bend pulls me along but in such a dry environment I can see that it would be a BIG mistake to let yourself get drawn too far down the trail. All the more reason to study the guide books and plan ahead. Thanks for providing me with some resources to do so
BTW, now I see why you need to haul that big trailer around behind you. It's for all those books
Unbelievable!! It is a good thing that writing here is not a contest, you are a sure winner. WOW!
2011 Palomino Maverick 1000SLLB on a 2004 Dodge Quadcab CTD Ram3500 SRW long bed equipped with Timbren springs, Stable Load bump stops, Rickson 19.5" wheels/"G" range tires and a Helwig "Big Wig" rear anti sway bar.
I hope you will be able to access my most recent Trip Report, by my addition of my personal Blog. I like using my Thoroughfare Walker Blog, for friends and family. They are not that interested in the RV Forum aspect of postings, as I am. I appreciate the feedback and suggestions, that posting here provides. Plus, I feel like I am bringing a menu you item to the RV.net Forum Trip Report Pot Luck, if I too contribute.
Silver ~ I have only done a handful of trip reports now, so my true respect goes out to those that have done, and continue to do, multiple trip reports. With each report I complete, I try to introduce something new that I haven’t seen in any other trip reports. I just like keeping it fun and fresh to do. One thing I have tried to do, in each one I have done, is to include information for others to think about visiting a place like Death Valley, too. If I can provide some of that research, and information for others, I feel my time is well spent.
iwon415 ~ Hey Tim, thanks for the kind words. Even at my age, it makes one feel good that others are enjoying what you are doing and sharing. Validation is a good reward. Rest assured, I haven’t any plans of slowing down, I have a deadline to make and need to get as much done before I reach it. I hope to post more, along the way.
Whazoo ~ Hey Dave, I am always pleased to have you stop by, but more so, I’m looking forward to joining you somewhere on a star strewn night sky, to kick back and listen to the wind, as your Dutch Oven continues to settle in the diminishing coals, as we finally get that meet done in some long lost red rock canyon. Yes, I feel the same competitive twitch, but that is good, as I push myself to put together something that will please you and others. I know what is in my zone of ability and stay within that, but I will admit, I stole your “Poster Re-Cap,” as it is way of responding to those that took the time to leave a comment or two. It is all good; but, like I do with my “Words with Friends” friends; “It’s your move; Whazoo
GoinThisWay ~ Contrast . . . that is the perfect word, to describe so many different places we choose to visit in our Truck Campers. There is such a diversity of the places I have traveled and grown to love, often for their own uniqueness. I do walk softly, as I don’t want to change out a comfortable pair of boots, but always moving. In the old days, a simple resole was all you needed; now they just go into the waste bin. I tend to hang onto friends, for a very long time and we all came to the same decision, that hiking long distant trails were becoming infrequent, as well. But we all nodded at each other, we were ok, with that. We even came back, another day to finish what we didn’t finish that day. As for books, yep, I have a tub just for books, but maybe an electronic reader could be in my future. Off to Alaska, GoinThisWay!
Sirdrakejr ~ Well, Frank. Now you know what I was saying when I told you I was working on a trip report, those times you would stop by to check on me. You provided me some good distraction, as well as some places to explore. Thanks, my friend. I will look forward to getting back by, one of these days again.
Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli ~ Thanks for the kind words, as it means a lot to me, as you are one of the many here, that does such great trip reports yourself.
When we were visiting Death Valley, for the month of February of 2012, one of the persons in our party had some professional business with the National Park Service, so we ended up going to the Visitor Center during it’s 14 month renovation. Luckily, the Visitor Center did open before my departure, in March.
The center now has a great auditorium, for an opportunity for many of the visitors, to the park, to see various scenes in the park. The center also has a Ranger available, for current conditions and available sites to visit. Also available, is the Death Valley Natural History Association and their generous display of books, curios and postcards for the visiting tourists.
Remembering my two earlier visits to Death Valley, it was sometimes hard to see where the renovations actually occurred. Many of these renovations were structural and mechanical. Long overdue for a structure that was 50 years old and deserving of a makeover. The shaded patio was certainly an improvement of the previous patio, which is located between the public portion of the visitor center and the administration building, to the North.
One of the modern improvements was something that I have recently completed too, an abundance of Solar Panels, to supplement the power usesage of the federal buildings.
I have to admit, I do enjoy car touring too. Death Valley provides many opportunities to do just this, with its long distances to travel, between developed points of interests.
One of these locations, is one of my favorite to stop and tour around, The Harmony Borax Works. The site is easily accessible and well signed with interesting information on the history of the surviving exhibits and the location. The parking area is about 1½ miles north of Furnace Creek, on California Hwy 190. The site is the actual site of the Borax operation that was in use from 1883 to 1888. Borax, even to this day, is used in the manufacture of, ceramic, glass, detergent and soap. The industry was very changeable, just as many minerals of that era. Harmony Borax Works was not immune to these cycles, as well.
During the era of the mid to late 1800’s, it was not uncommon to use laborers of different nationalities. Often these nationals were virtually unemployable in many cities, as there was a distinct discrimination for many jobs, for Chinese, Irish and Africans. The Chinese were the most abundant nationality, used as laborers at the Harmony Borax Works.
There are a number of trails that originate from the parking lot trailhead, which takes you to different overlooks and viewpoints.
Death Valley never ceases to remind me, how there is so many unique environments, within the park. One of these locations is the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail. Within this location, and its surround drainages is a unique fish species, known as Death Valley pupfish, Cyprinodon salinus.
Of course, timing is all so important in catching a view of these very small fish and we were not lucky enough to see any of the Death Valley Pupfish. So, there is nothing to see here; just move along . . . well not exactly. To reach the parking area, travel a short 14 miles north of Furnace Creek. The trail is a little over a ½ mile, round trip.
The walk down to the boardwalks is actually worth the stop and visit. With all the green, there is a great contrast to the constant desert landscape.
The National Park Service’s requisite boardwalks, are used abundantly to bridge over many of the creek crossings and along the creek, to afford the visitors to have ample opportunity witness many of the creatures that occupy this brackish creek.
The most easily accessible Sand Dunes, in Death Valley, are the ones found directly off the road, east of Stovepipe Wells. There is ample parking and restrooms available at this wayside. A short walk to the dunes provides many hours of energy draining opportunity for younger explorers of the park. Obviously walking in the dunes can be difficult, but rewarding. The sand will be at a greater temperature, than the air temperature. So, if it is really hot out, stay off the sand.
If you are interested in photographing the dunes, a couple of things to keep in mind, are sunlight and wind will be your friends. As often happens in Death Valley, the wind blows, or as a Kansan by birth, it sucks, and after these high wind events, the dunes erase all the offending footprints from all the sand revelers. Also, dramatic shadows can develop with the rising and setting sun. Due plan accordingly, for these shadows, as the times start earlier for sunsets, as the western mountain range creates an earlier sunset time, than published for the area, as well as later for sunrises. Also, plan on the time it will take, to hike out to the optimum location for these photo opportunities.
For those that look a little farther than the obvious, there are many signs that indicate life, within the desert. Small little tracks, with a line down the middle of them, indicate a Kangaroo Rat. A large pile of sand and debris, around any vegetation is often an indication of a burrowing animal, if you look a little further. These dens can often be found along dry drainages, which often is used as “roadways” for those animals in the desert. One factor of the desert created dunes is the impacts of the wind and how they sculpt. I find these interesting and very unique, like a fingerprint in how each of them is different.
An area that I still hope to visit, but seems to fall off the list of places to go, is the remote Eureka Dunes. These dunes are located in the remote desert valley, about 90 miles north of Furnace Creek. These dunes are the tallest in the state of California and second highest in all of North America.
There are some National Parks that lend themselves to photography very well; Death Valley fills this role perfectly well. Panoramic photographs just shine here and one thing that I have found to be very important, in panorama pictures, is to provide scale. This is where families can be involved with their photos, by placing themselves, or others, into these panoramic photos.
Another favorite is Sunrise and Sunset photographs. There are many locations to achieve this. These times are available through one of my favorite Apps’, WeatherBug (Cell Phone coverage is pretty much nonexistent in Death Valley). These times are often posted at the Visitor Centers and the message boards at the various Campgrounds. It is important to arrive early, as the sun often is setting later or earlier, than the posted times, due to physical limitations, such as the mountain ridges.
Some of my favorite locations for Sunrise and Sunset photos are as follows;
West Side Road
Any of the Sand Dune locations
Golden Canyon Trail Head
Badwater Salt Pan
One of the things I have discovered, while visiting Death Valley, is the popularity of the backroads and exploring of the features, often found in many remote locations. Many of these roads are very accessible to the novice, through eath-valley-rental-rates&catid=35">Jeep Rentals at Furnace Creek or Furnace Creek Inn.
Many visitors just show up with their own 4X4 vehicles, some of them very well set up, for those really technical roads, within the park.
For Jeep excursions, I would recommend that you visit the following areas;
Aguereberry Point Road
High clearance 2-wheel drive. 6-mile graded gravel road off Emigrant Canyon Road. After the first 3 1/2 miles, the road enters a narrows and climbs moderately. The next one-mile section has loose rock and bedrock protruding from the road surface. Sedans risk undercarriage damage. Final ½ mile ascent to Aguereberry Point is steep and has occasional rocks. Subject to snow and mud conditions during wet periods. Watch out for other vehicles on blind curves! No Camping. Day use only.
Big Pine & Death Valley Road
High clearance 2-wheel drive. 48-mile gravel road graded by county. First 36 miles unpaved, then 4 miles paved, followed by 8 additional miles unpaved, then paved to Big Pine. Expect dust and occasional rough spots first 3 miles. Very rough washboard. 4WD is recommended when washed out by floods. Often signed as CLOSED by Inyo County after floods. Visitors going past closed signs “do so at their own risk.”
Charcoal Kilns / Upper Wildrose Canyon Road
Most vehicles, paved but last 2 miles to kilns are graded, gravel road. No RVs or trailers. Regular vehicles possible but large rocks require caution and slow speed. Road closed during winter months if ice and snow create a hazard. Road continuing to Thorndike and Mahogany Camps is high clearance 2WD; high clearance 4WD during the winter. Camp only in designated campgrounds.
Darwin Falls Road
Most vehicles: There is limited parking at the trailhead. 2-mile graded gravel road off Hwy 190, then high clearance 4WD to park boundary and Darwin. First two miles are washboard. No camping first two miles or at the trailhead.
Desolation Canyon Road
All vehicles. ½ mile graded, dirt road, 3.7 miles south of Hwy 190 on Badwater Rd; not marked. No camping. Completely washed away by August 15, 2004 flood. First half-mile graded and re-opened (10/06/05).
Eureka Dunes Eureka Mine ~ South Eureka Road
High clearance 2-wheel drive. 11-mile dirt road graded by county. Road to dunes is a bit rough and very washboard. It is often passable to sedans. From Hwy 395 the access road is mostly paved and signed Death Valley Road. The access road from the south is called the Big Pine Road and is a long graded, gravel road recommended for high clearance 2WD vehicles. Road beyond dunes is high clearance 4WD to Saline Valley.
Greenwater Valley Road
High clearance 2WD. 28 mile graded, gravel road. From the north off Dante’s View Road the first two miles are slow and washboard. From the south end (Hwy 178) the road starts out fairly well but soon becomes washboard. No camping first two miles from either end.
Hidden Valley Road
High clearance 2WD. Approx. 20 miles of dirt road from Teakettle Junction to Hunter Mountain. Road through Hidden Valley and Ulida Flat is very washboard with deep dust in places and subject to flooding and standing water after rains. At the south end of Hidden Valley the road is steep and rough for approx. 1/4 mile. Note: Racetrack Road through Hidden Valley to Hunter Mountain and out to Hwy 190 is about a 120-mile trip. It is usually closed by snow at Hunter Mountain during the winter months.
Historic Stovepipe Wells Road
All vehicles. Short, dirt road off Scotty’s Castle Road, 3 miles north of Hwy 190. No camping, designated day use area.
Keane Wonder Mine (Mine & Area closed due to hazards)
Most vehicles, limited parking at trailhead. 3 mile graded, gravel road, off Beatty Cut-Off Road. No camping.
Mahogany Flat Road
High clearance 2WD. 1.5 mile gravel road beyond the Charcoal Kilns Road. Thorndike Campground is the last turn-around point, then the road becomes rough, narrow and very steep. Road is often closed or impassable from mid-December to mid-April due to snow and ice. 4WD may be necessary at any time depending on weather and road conditions. Sedans risk damage to undercarriage from large rocks. Recommend low gear for steep downhill on return trip. Camp only in designated campgrounds.
Mosaic Canyon Road
All vehicles. 2.4 mile graded, gravel road. Access is off Hwy 190 just west of Stovepipe Wells. Washboard. Provides hiker access to Mosaic Canyon.
The Racetrack 4X4 Valley Road
High clearance 2WD. 34 miles of loose gravel, washboard, some protruding rocks. Moderate and long uphill grade (2400' in 9 miles). Sedans, vans and campers do negotiate this road occasionally but are not recommended. Posted 4WD, high clearance due to changing road conditions and irregular maintenance. Flat tires are common on this road; be sure your spare is in good shape. No camping first two miles or from Teakettle Junction to the southern end of the Racetrack. Do not walk on the Racetrack when it is wet!
Salt Tram Summit Station
High clearance 2WD road that traverses higher mountain terrain (7000' North Pass) and is more frequently affected by winter weather. Washboard and rocks. Expect washouts during rain. Graded once per year. From the Big Pine Road it is approx. 30 miles to turnoff to warm springs road.
Skidoo Mine (no camping permitted)
High clearance 2WD. 11 mile gravel road off Emigrant Canyon Road is graded annually to Skidoo Town site (no visible remains of the town site). After the first 3 1/2 miles, grade increases with rocks protruding from the road surface. Caution is necessary for sedans to negotiate without risking undercarriage damage. After the climb the road is narrow and steep on one side with occasional rocks in the road. Beyond the town site, roads are not maintained. Roads subject to snow and mud conditions. Watch for other vehicles on blind curves. Two access roads to the mill are gated and locked. Access is by foot only. No camping, day use only.
Titus Canyon (one-way section), Titus Canyon
High clearance 2WD. 26 mile one-way section starts off Nevada Hwy 374. Road surface varies from washboard to wash outs across the road that would cause 2WD vehicles or small trucks to become high-centered. RVs and campers are too large and unstable to travel safely. Red Pass grade is steep and narrow, with sharp switchbacks and protruding rocks and potholes. Road is often closed in winter due to snow or flooding. Sometimes has rough washboard the first four miles. No camping, day use only.
Twenty Mule Team Canyon Road
Most vehicles. 2.6 mile one-way dirt road off Hwy 190. No RVs, trailers or buses. Near the end, road climbs steeply, turns right and drops down suddenly. It is not as bad as it looks; shift to lowest gear and go ahead slowly. Do not turn around and drive the wrong way, but remain alert for people going the wrong way. Subject to closure when wet. No camping, day use only.
West Side Road
High clearance 2-wheel drive: 36-mile dirt road is graded annually. The road is heavy washboard much of the way with deep gravel and dust in places. No camping within 2 miles of the main road. High clearance 4-wheel drive when the Amargosa River is flowing. The Amargosa River occasionally floods and closes the road.
A big thank you to the National Park Service for the updated road conditions of the back road descriptions. Again, always check with the local National Park Ranger Stations for changing road conditions and for weather forecasts.
The Skidoo Mine and Mill was something that all of us wanted to visit and explore. One of the people in our party, enjoys painting and pen and ink art work, for me, photography. So we planned on the idea that we would spend more time exploring and hanging out at the site.
The Skidoo Mine was one of the more colorful and famous mines in the Death Valley region. The mine started with a gold discovery in January of 1906 and continued through 1917, when the main ore bodies played out. The mine site is easy to reach, via a 90 minute drive from Furnace Creek. It is nice to have a truck or SUV, but the route is negotiable by automobile too. It should be noted that the Park Service prohibits any camping or dispersed camping, in the area designated as the Skidoo Mine Site.
The site is widely dispersed, in numerous sites that were being mined with one central location for processing. This processing site (Quartz Mill) is still present, even though it was marked for areas of hazards. Walking up the road, affords a tremendous view of the Panamint Mountains, to the West and North.
Many of the mines were not as successful as the Skidoo Mine. The Townsite was to the east of the mine and at its height, had a population of 400 – 500 people. The name; Skidoo is from a time, long ago, in the form of; “23 Skidoo.” At that time, it meant; “Beat it!” Many of the songs of that era had this period famous saying in it.
Imagine if you will, as time went by many people did not see these and other structures as historical, but as a waste of material that was better suited being reused. With no trees available and the literal fact that everything was shipped long distances, which was needed for construction of structures as this, it is a tribute that as much of the structures still remain.
It is a treat to walk about the area and imagine what it must have been like to live a “hard rock life.” The saving grace here, these miners were met with different environmental extremes, that many other miners met with in life. The heat of the summer was often mitigated by the cool, damp air of the mines where other miners had to deal with the cold, snowy climates of the Sierras and Rockies and the Avalanche prone areas that many of the mines, there, dealt with.
The miners were well known for their whimsical nature and the many tales that circulated in an era of very little female companionship. They were known for their practical jokes and it would seem there is still some of this still present, in modern day Death Valley. Yes, I succumbed to placing a rock too, on the balance. It has been my nature to place a rock upon a “Cairn,” as I pass one, mostly as a tribute to m daughter, whom I named; Cairn.
Death Valley & The Amarogosa, by; Richard E. Lingenfelter
Again, if you are wishing to learn more about the rich history of Death Valley and how it was discovered by a group of Argonauts’ as they traveled through the valley, on their way to the storied gold fields of 1850 California; this book should satisfy your curiosity.
If you are looking for a day long excursion, including a lunch and maybe a stop for groceries and MUCH cheaper gas than you would find in Furnace Creek, a trip to Beatty, Nevada. A return trip through Titus Canyon.
One of the ghost towns in Titus Canyon is, Leadfield’s Ghost Town. The canyon is a great drive for anyone with a good sedan, in good weather periods, and better in an SUV or 4X4. The upper portion is found is a one-way road, just west of Ryolite. The road that is one-way, is 27 miles long, until it reaches the narrows, where it returns to a two-way road. The road is often closed during the summer and sometimes in the winter season, due to snow and plowing operations. Checking with the Ranger Station is always a good idea
I have been a devout herpetologist enthusiast since collecting my first snakes, as a little boy, to a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake I collected and had in a desert terrarium for many years. So a sign, such as this, only gets my interest more. But, even for someone like me, it reminds me of something that I don’t necessarily consider when out hiking in many of the locations I visit.
Like many remote locations, fuel, lodging and food costs are priced accordingly. With the economics in the state of California the way they are, taxes are high on these items too. Death Valley has been often described as a land of extremes and fuel prices are not the exception here too. It is only a few miles away, to Stovepipe Wells, to find less expensive fuel.
I have a confession here, I stayed in a campground and, and I liked it!
Ok, maybe not enough to do it again anytime soon. We had originally planned on staying at the Texas Springs Campground, our destination on two previous visits, to Death Valley. We arrived and were promptly informed, that the campground would be closing to all, but tent campers, the very next day. There was not to be a date, any time soon, for it to be reopened. In fact, we later found that Texas Springs would permanently remain a tent only campground.
For years, I have heard many of the things that you have heard about, about campgrounds; “They are ripe with unruly people, loud uncontrolled stereos, barking dogs, trash strewn around and speeding through the campground and let me tell you about all the stories I have read here, about generators. In a short response, the campground stay went smoothly, except for one thing, yep, you guessed right, a couple of generators. There was a signed time curfew, but there were often a handful of the larger coaches running their muffled generators at night. I was told that they are not really prepared for dry camping and inside their coaches; they can’t really hear their own generators running. Yeah, is my answer. We were all very happy to see a 5th wheel owner leaving, after running a contractor style generator, strapped to his rear bumper, finally depart. I spoke to him one time, he was nice enough guy and very proud of the fact he got a really great deal on this generator, at a farm auction. Well, the rules aloud he so he was going to “run what he brung’.” I like those people that think about the other campers and how they might impact their camping experience, as opposed to those that consider only their own needs first.
With all of the exploring we were doing, sometimes it was just nice to get back to camp and just relax and do some reading. Well, at least before we pulled out the large Celestron Telescope and spend more hours just discussing the worlds beyond what we know.
“Hello there. It sure is a beautiful morning we are having here in Paradise!” With a noticeable drawl, I could see the older man standing in front of me, with a folding chair held by his right hand and a thermal cup in the other.
“It sure is, welcome. Pull up your chair and have a seat.” Again, I was able to capture another person with my pre magnetism. Surprisingly, hooking Bob without even casting a line and reeling one in.
Thus began a couple of days of wonderful conversation and what might be longtime friends. Sometimes it takes a bit of effort and some good questions to have someone begin to share. With Bob, there was none of this needed, as he just began talking just as he had no inhibitions’ to come over to a stranger, reading a book, sitting in the warm sunlight.
I soon learned that Bob was retired rancher, but still lived on the land that his father had homesteaded, in Eastern Oregon. His boys now handled the operations and he helped out when he felt like it. Bob and his wife made numerous trips to Death Valley, over the last few decades, many with their own boys when they were younger. One of his stories revolved around how he was walking through Furnace Creek, many years before, when a camper was driving by him, stopped backed up and called out; “Are you one of the Martin boys.” Smiling and pausing for effect, Bob added that all the brothers looked alike and that there had been 6 brothers, all together. It turned out this was one of his brother’s high school classmates, from the early forties. Bob continued to share stories and eventually placed in my hand, a worn piece of stenographer’s paper, with his address and phone number; “I don’t do any of that computer stuff, but we would love to have you two stop in for a visit anytime you are coming through.”
After 2 ½ years of traveling, I have only met 2 couples that are posters here on RV.net. This couple mentioned that they had never been on the Truck Camper forum, but they do post on many of the other forums, found here.
It shouldn’t come to anyone as a surprise, that this is class discrimination, even in the world of RVs. Since I don’t frequent campgrounds and socialize with groups that RV, I am very much out of the loop, but I do see and experience discrimination, on occasion. This discrimination manifests in places that prohibit Truck Campers, like some RV parks and those that have larger and more elaborate RVs, like coaches. This works the same way as certain neighborhoods have more exclusive homes than others and the people within those homes often choose not to socialize. Meet, Tony and his wife, owners and travelers in their new Winnebago Class A Coach. From the moment that they pulled in next to Ellis and me, in Death Valley, they were a frequent topic of conversation between Ellis and me. We watched as they put out their large carpet, covering the rough desert ground and a handful of lounging chairs. These were not just normal folding chairs, but the plush cushion style chairs. The difference was, this couple was genuinely friendly and curious about our RV and what we were doing in the park. I don’t often have Coach Owners be this friendly and we soon found many common things, between the 4 of us. Tony shared that he had spent over 30 years working as a stage manager and on tour with different musical groups and now newly retired. Now, he and his wife were taking long trips in their dream Coach. One morning, Tony greeted me outside my Truck Camper, hands cupped in front of him; “Could I have a cup of Power?” I thought I was reliving a moment from the 1968 movie; Oliver, where young Oliver Twist comes back up to the front of the dining hall and asks the headmaster; “May I have some more, please . . . .” Tony related that his wife had become cold overnight and turned up the heater, thus depleting their batteries. This morning their generator would not start, as there was not enough reserve in their batteries to turn over their generator. Luckily, I always have redundancy in my camper and the chance of this happening is very remote, especially with my penchant for staying so far off the beaten path, I have planned for these worst case scenarios. Within a few minutes, we had Tony up and running and his Espresso Machine was brewing their first cup of the day.
I found myself knocking on someone’s camper door, this time. I was curious about the Flat Bed Truck Camper, which was parked a few yards to the north of me. The reason I was being this out of character for me, was my friend was interested in getting his own Pop-up-Truck Camper. He had never seen one on a flat bed, so we found ourselves, just walking over. The “foot print” of the camper the full width of the flat bed and the way it was modified, showed that there was a lot of thought put into assembling this project.
The rear view of the pop up was just as interesting and an excellent example of someone being well organized.
We were happy to have the owner, answer the door and recognizing that we were interested in his truck and TC, he jumped out and spent time walking us around it. The owner introduced himself as Aaron and he was the originator of another popular Truck Camper forum; Wander the West ~ Four Wheel Camper Users Group. Over the next two days, I learned a lot about the modifications Aaron had made and the interest he had for historic mining and the characters that came along with the mining and how they changed the western part of America. These people I often stumble across, while on the road, is never ending in how wide their experiences are.
I always have an eye out for Lance Campers and off to one side of the campground I found this truck camper owner, which was down for the weekend. They keep everything packed in their truck and camper and bikes loaded in the trailer, just for the moment to take off. They liked being packed and ready, with only a quick grocery stocking and they are down the road.
I met this couple as they were on a nationwide road trip. They celebrated John’s recent cancer battle and his current state of remission. They had pulled in near us, where we were camped in Death Valley National Park, when John came over to ask about the solar that I had installed. The result, John just stuck around to mine more and more information. There are lots of people that like to tinker in their basement or their garages and this tendency does not cease, when they get out on the road. John had lots of modifications, or improvements as he would call it, on their little Argosy Travel Trailer. The only thing that worried me was the small little SUV that they were using to tow it with. With all the new ideas that John had gathered, they were off to their next generation, the very next day. So often, many of these chance meetings, I have, are just that; Chance and brief, but they satisfy me in the wealth of understanding I find in knowing how different we are, but deep down we are very much the same, except in a Presidential Election year, of course!
Not to be out done, a BMW motorcycle group, from California, rode up for a few days of touring Death Valley. It was fun seeing so many different styles of BMWs and a few others mixed in. One of the tour people indicated that they had over 600 bikes signed up for the event. They were camped up the hill, in the Tents Only campground (recently changed), Texas Spring, as well as the number of BMWs parked down in Sunset Campground.
As I travel the west, I see lots of different types of Truck Campers. I understand the idea of small campers and even small campers on small trucks, but this one really caught my attention. For the days I was in Death Valley, I frequently saw this truck and camper, parked at different pullouts and trail heads, but I never saw the owner.
I saw this Lance camper too, and noticed that he had very different window covers and had hoped to have caught him too, but never saw him. I wanted to ask him about the covers. Does anyone know about these?
When I traveled along the Gulf Coast, the year before, I only saw 2 truck campers in three months. It is nice being back in the west, this winter, for the open spaces and the frequent sighting of truck campers.
I always enjoy seeing variations to camping and the ability to reach remote locations.
One of the things that is noticeable about being out west, are the grand panoramic views one sees. These great sight distances allows the viewer to see great expanses of rolling clouds and beautiful sunsets. But like anything, there are downsides too, such as the weather changes you can watch, from great distances. One of these weather events is the ground hugging wind storms, that happen a few times a year, in Death Valley.
The one that enveloped us, at the campground, could be seen coming for almost 20 minutes before it arrived. When this happened, the visibility diminished very quickly, for 5 to 6 minutes, before air cleared, leaving behind a light coating of dust, everywhere.
There is not a way I could ever begin to share something that many of you already know and that is what a wonderful opportunity we have in this country, our National Parks, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands, as well as the countless State and County Parks. I recognize that I will never be able to visit all of these locations, in my lifetime. This is especially true with finding new ones, everyday, here on this forum, or just around the next bend.
Maybe you have that special place, that moves you almost to tears when it comes time to leave and there are a few places that strike me in just this way. Death Valley National Park is getting closer and closer to being one of these places that has an emotional pull, for me. Thank you for taking time to join me, along this journey.
Bryan, I love your third installment of DeathValley and all the Truck Camper photos. I love astronomy also, What kind of Celestron Telescope do you have? I have a number of refractors, reflectors and a 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain. Whenever I go on the road, at least one telescope travels with me. Keep looking up! On the window question, I remember seeing those windows only on the Lance 830 and 1040 models, it was on their European design models only.
Bob in Oakland, Calif.
* This post was
edited 05/15/12 01:35pm by spacedoutbob *
Thank you thank you for this wealth of info and sharing your experiences! Kudos! My stepfather (RIP) was a total desert rat and for decades spent weeks at a time in Death Valley leading hikes. He was quite well known by the name of "Old Creasote" I hiked with him a number of times and sure miss him!
1995 Weekender model 910 extended cabover
Calvin, the 1996 creampuff Chev Silverado 3500 extended cab dually