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The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #13
Death Valley National Park
Wednesday, February 10, 2010, continued: Kit and I became fascinated with our nations National Parks, Forests and Monuments years ago when we first laid eyes on the Grand Canyon in the summer of 1969. As most of you, we enjoyed last winters PBS presentation of Ken Burns “The National Parks-Americas Best Idea”. In November I had an opportunity to purchase the companion book and meet Ken Burns at a signing hosted by LL Bean.
He was very friendly and interesting to chat with. He seemed to have a keen interest in all who waited patiently in line to meet him. I learned that he lives in Walpole, New Hampshire and visits Maine often. I also purchased the films soundtrack CD which we listen to in the truck whenever we drive through a particularly beautiful area of our great country. We had the CD in the player this morning and enjoyed the music as we encountered mile after mile of incredible beauty and breathtaking landscape. Yep…..in Death Valley!
Moving on down the park road we saw this strange site:
Yep, it’s a snow plow folks. But there are no maintained roads up into the surrounding mountains. Then we discovered it was actually a mud plow. Apparently when it rains hard, or the wind blows strong, the roads can quickly become covered with sand and mud. The park road crews are constantly working to keep all the roads open and passable.
Oh, um…..that guy isn’t doing what it looks like he’s doing. The crew was pumping the water from last night’s accumulation of rain off the paved road. I guess an area that only gets 2 inches of rain a year doesn’t have a way to naturally dissipate a lot of water quickly.
Speaking of dissipating water quickly, I guess the below contraption would help. Apparently it is a mobile loo…..taking care of the needs of the road maintenance crew. We didn’t follow too closely…..for obvious reasons. Boy, the practical jokes one could play with this thing!
Kit was kind enough to take a nap in the truck so I could hike up into one of the many slot canyons in the area. This one led to a natural bridge which was creatively called “Natural Bridge” by the park service. It was only a few miles but it felt nice to get out and walk a bit in the back country.
We stopped for a while at Badwater Basin. At 282 feet below sea level it is the lowest place in the US. With the added rain it took on a surreal look:
While traipsing around trying to find water deep enough to float my kayak a van with Alaska plates and a kayak on top pulled in. Ah, a kindred spirit. We immediately took on the task of looking for a suitable launch spot. Not finding any we stood and talked for a while.
His name was Dale Rogers and he is a wilderness guide, commercial boat captain and all around interesting person. Dale lives in Ketchikan, Alaska where he runs his home as a hostel in the summer. Check it out at: http://www.eagleviewhostel.com. In the winter he takes off for a few months and heads south….often into South America. A very interesting guy with many unusual adventures to his credit. Dale invited us to look him up when we RV that way in a year or so.
Further down the valley we came to an abandoned gold ore processing station from 1914. Legend has it that the owners, the Ashford brothers, bragged about selling the place to a Hungarian Count for $50,000.00. However the joke was on them as the count turned around later that year and sold the place for $105,000.00. Guess he could count gooder.
Kit’s Corner: Exploring the southern part of Death Valley was quite a wonder! I had no idea it could be so interesting and beautiful. Probably the best part of this day was running into this character, Dale, from Alaska! He was quite a talker and had lots of info to share. He travels alone for the most part and even avoids staying in campgrounds. We spent maybe an hour and half with him and thoroughly enjoyed his stories. It would be fun to look him up in Ketchikan and spend a little more time with him. Quite a “salty” ol’ character!
Tomorrow we explore the northern part of the park, including Death Valley Ranch, also known as “Scotty’s Castle”. Stay tuned,
Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit