Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Day of Firsts

Today's Photo - Some Trees at Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes, Death Valley, CA

I would have to call today a day of many firsts. Although I drove the RAV4 to 8300', the trailer wasn't attached. Today it went over Conway Summit, 8142', the highest it has been. To top that, it also managed to hit the lowest altitude I expect to see - 236' below sea level here in Death Valley.

Another first was pretty exciting. Although one morning in Hoh, WA it hit 23°F, it was only for a few minutes & I didn't have any hookups. Last night I woke up around 3:00AM & it was 22°F, and stayed that way until 7:00AM. And, I had water hooked up. The term "had" is a good one - although it was hooked up, nothing was coming out of the taps. The hose was frozen solid, along with the faucet feeding it. I was a bit nervous whether any of the trailer plumbing was also frozen, but there was no way to find out until things thawed. I finally managed to unhook the hose, roll it up, listening to the ice inside crack, attach the ends to each other so that when it thawed it wouldn't flood the storage box, and hook up the trailer to the RAV4. I'm glad I had gloves when I was attaching the spring bars...

That left the problem of the water faucet. I couldn't close it because it was frozen, but as soon as it thawed, it would flood the campsite. No problem; as I was unhooking the electric, the ice plug in the faucet blew out, soaking me! At least I didn't have to wake up the campground owners to let them know the problem.

By the way, the Willow Springs campground is a great place to stay in the Mono Lake /Bodie area. Very nice people, and lots of activities, at least a bit further into the season.

After getting hooked up I headed south on 395. The road parallels hills & mountains on both sides - a beautiful drive through the Owens Valley. Just a few small towns to stop & get gas, and the price is exciting - I paid $4.37 a gallon at Lone Pine, CA, but managed to drive by stations in the upper Death Valley area on CA 190 that were selling regular for $5.75.

There are some interesting passes in the park. Not all that high, at least compared to those in Northern California or Montana, but the steepest grades I've driven. We made it up a 9 mile 8% grade; at times at 40mph, but no overheating. CA 190 is quite narrow & has many twists & turns through the park, but gorgeous scenery. I did hit light mixed snow & rain on the earlier parts of the route.

I made a couple of stops in Death Valley - the first at Padre Crowley Point - quite a trench! After that it was the Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station to get my entrance sticker (free with the Senior Pass) and a bit later the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. Although they were difficult to photograph because the sand was blowing, I did get a couple of photos of some interesting trees. I also took a photo of three bus loads of tourists that were lined up to use the bathrooms. I thought they had them on the bus - glad I didn't have to wait; just hop into the trailer! They will be available at my lakeshore Site when I find a fast internet connection.

I quit for the day at Furnace Creek campground. Fairly empty with 136 sites (I'm in 123) and maybe 5 campers at 4:00PM. It is windy, but I found a site that has trees blocking most of it. Only bad part is the trees also shade the solar panel, but I came in fully charged, so I don't think it will be a problem. By the way, I'm in Death Valley, a dry place and, for the second time today, it's raining! Oh well, I have had great weather for most of the trip, at least since I picked up the trailer...

Another interesting point - I've been told that Verizon provides better connectivity than AT&T across the US, and for the most part that seems to be true, but here at Death Valley I have a strong AT&T signal (at least for voice) and nothing for Verizon data. I don't think I'm going to be able to post this.

Well, I was right.  I tried to do a post from my iPhone on the AT&T network, but never got the photo to load.  It is now 4:02PM & I'm posting from Arizona.

Till Tomorrow - actually later today!

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