We had an uneventful trip to Vegas, which was great considering it’s winter and we nearly always end up facing flight delays and other problems due to weather. We grabbed a cab to go to Road Bear RV and pick up our RV. The lady there was very nice and after giving us a tour of the RV and how to work everything, she gave us some extra pillows and camping chairs.
We originally planned to go to Pahrump, get supplies, and then go to the first RV campground we picked out, and cook there. But we didn’t anticipate being hungry when we go to Pahrump, Jake likes Sonic (we don’t have them in Ontario), and there was one in the Walmart parking lot, so off we went to grab food! Jake stayed behind at Sonic to pay for the food and Bruce and I started back toward the RV. I watched an SUV pull up next to the RV and for some reason I felt it was very suspicious-looking. I walked a little slower and toward the back of the SUV and sure enough, a lady got out and went directly to the back storage unit of the RV, where our suitcases were. I confronted her, and she basically panicked and played dumb, saying she needed help. I told her she needed to GTFO. We reported her to security but he said we should call the police and make a report. I fully intended to, but ended up not calling them. If I didn’t have to be conservative with my US cell phone minutes, I probably would have.
We went shopping, tried not to kill each other while crossing things off our list (we were super tired at this point!) and loaded the RV and started off for the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort. Check-in was quick and easy, and Angie, the owner I think, was very accommodating and pleasant. We parked and pretty much went to bed…we were exhausted. The park was very very windy. Like crazy winds. Jake and I didn’t really get much sleep because we were both worried about the water pipes freezing and the wind was rocking the RV like mad. And loud. And I was worried about B not being warm enough, so I checked on him a couple of times. Needless to say, this was not a good thing after being exhausted and up all day! I got up early and thought it might be a good idea to try to catch the sunrise. We all got up and ventured out up the hill…it didn’t work out so well. Where we were wasn’t a good place for watching the sunrise, and the wind was almost unbearably cold.
B had slept amazingly well, considering. Little munchkin.
I wish we had time to enjoy the place, but honestly we were just so tired, and anxious to “get going” we even skipped using the baths. If we did this again, we might stay in Vegas the first night and then make Tecopa a first destination after shopping the next morning.
We deliberated over our next stop over breakfast. We decided that we would like to go into Death Valley and B especially wanted to “go to the middle of nowhere”. Hehehe!
We drove into Death Valley by way of the Shoshone entrance and drove north through the park. We stopped at Badwater Basin, which is the lowest point in the US at 282 feet below sea level. Continuing on up the road we wanted to take Artist’s Drive and see Artist’s Palette, but the RV is longer than 25 feet so we weren’t allowed. (Mental note for the next trip to Death Valley!) Then we headed east a few miles to Zibriskie Point…which was amazingly beautiful. I also got to test the panoramic photo feature of my new phone here. I think it worked great!
We doubled back and went north again and stopped in at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. The staff there were so friendly! Ranger Ray Snow gave B a quick lesson on desert turtles, where they’re located, how and why they’re endangered, etc. B was impressed, I think. We were trying to decide whether to go west out of the park toward Panamint Springs, or go north. The rangers unanimously recommended staying at Mesquite Springs, but we needed to decide what our next destination after that would be so we could take an optimal path. Mesquite Springs sure did sound nice, but going there meant a long drive back through Vegas or doubling back and exiting the west side of the park.
We kept going north and stopped in at Stovepipe Wells to get gas, which was about 60 cents cheaper than Furnace Creek at $4.18 a gallon. EEP. We also had a problem with the Amex and the gas pump there. It was capping our charge at $50 so Jake had to do that twice, then it wouldn’t authorize anymore. They said they had new gas pumps and a call to Amex cleared up the problem, for us anyway. We were able to get some firewood and they were nice enough to give us a couple of coffee filters. Yeah, we were running on empty with no coffee, too. Still, I was having an awesome time.
We parked and went over the maps and decided that we would go to Mesquite Springs for the night. So, back on the road, we went up to Mesquite and picked out our RV spot. Since it was going to go below freezing overnight, we had to empty all the water out of the RV. This was, um, an experience. First, we pulled up next to the dump station and decided it would probably be a good idea for all of us to shower before dumping the water. While Jake was showering, Ranger Dick (wait for it) came to tell me that we were too far away and needed to move closer to the dump station so a big rig could get by. Okay, no problem. I moved the RV closer. Then, after we showered, we started emptying out the water. We really weren’t prepared for how long this would take. (When we rented a much smaller campervan in New Zealand, we had to be very conservative with water.) After about 20 minutes, Ranger Dick came back and told us we needed to move because someone else might need to use the station. Might. There was no one there. We pulled around and into the camp site we had picked out and let the water run. The gray water tank filled up and while I wasn’t looking, the shower filled almost to the brim. After we finally got the rest of the water emptied into the black water tank, Jake had to drive back around to the dump station… I had to shut the shower door, and with B’s help, hold a towel up to the half inch crack at the bottom to hold the water in while the water bounced around. Fun! …Okay, not really amusing at all. 😉
There were maybe 6-7 campers/RVs by the time we got settled in. Mesquite is very remote, but absolutely beautiful. Jake made kafta and corn on the fire, but it was too cold to eat outside, so we went in to eat. YUMMY! We went back out to look at the stars and enjoy the fire. You could see thousands and thousands of stars. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sight like that in my life. I pointed out some of my favorite constellations to B and Jake. I went all techie and broke out Star Walk on the iPad so I could discover some new constellations, which was actually pretty awesome.
Again, we went to bed on the early side, but we all slept really, really well. Thank goodness.
I woke up around 6:40 and jumped out of bed. I knew sunrise was at 6:29 or so, and I didn’t want to miss it coming up over the mountains. Jake and B got up with me. It was probably another half hour or so before the sun came up enough to start lighting up the mountains around us. It was breathtaking. I climbed up to the top of a hill and just watched. It’s a memory I’ll keep forever, it was just beautiful.
Jake made breakfast (B helped) of sausage and eggs…on the stove this time. The smoke alarm didn’t like that too much. Heehee!
After breakfast, and packing up, and refilling the RV, we headed north to the Ubehebe Crater. As we drove toward it, you see a lot of volcanic rock. The road takes you around and up to the top of the crater, and you don’t even realize you’re on a crater until you’re at the parking lot. It was pretty cool. There was a couple there that had just hiked down and back up the crater. They said it took about 10 minutes to get down, but 30 minutes to get back up. B is a little afraid of heights, which I don’t mind because that means he doesn’t go close to the edge. 😉
We drove out of the park by way of the north entrance by Scotty’s Castle. We didn’t stop there, but we continued on and stopped in Beatty for gas ($3.12/gallon, much more reasonable). Jake spied a BBQ restaurant and, well, the temptation was great. So we stopped there to eat lunch, it was a place called Death Valley Firepit BBQ and we ordered hot BBQ sauce. They warned us that it was really hot, but we always hear that in Canada and it’s never hot. At all. More like, spicy with some pepper, or if you’re really lucky, Tobasco sauce. So when we got our food, we were pleasantly surprised that it was actually really hot. Not only that, but it was mild at first, and then after a few bites, it really built up. It was deliciously, painfully, lip-smackingly hot.
So we’re about to leave Beatty, and that’s where we are right now as I’m writing this.
Next stop, the ghost town of Rhyolite and then a push to Laughlin.
**All the photos on this post were taken with my phone’s camera. I’ll have an entire “real” Flickr update soon.