The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #13

Bill and Kit’s 2010 Excellent Adventure

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

 

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

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2 thoughts on “The Bill and Kit 2010 Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #13

  1. Hi- Bill and Kit -I was just looking at google to see the web sites with my hosel in them and came across yours. How great. Nice pictures and story about Death Valley with me included.THANKS! After talking to you I went on down the valley to the west valley road and camped at the rivers edge till the next morning befor fording it to continue on up Warm Spring Canyon to camp for a couple of nights.I dug out the silt and sand from the soak tub that had been deposited from the rains and enjoyed a nice bath in nature. When driving back the next day out after45 minutes and 2.8 miles,real slow , I broke the right front ball joint on my suspention. I was stuck. I hiked out of the canyon a couple of miles to try signal someone across the valley with a mirror. The sun was to far behind me because of the time of day so I hiked back to my rig and spent the night. Beautiful stars to watch and listen to wild donkeys that night. After breakfast the next morning I took water and food,left a note on the van and took off for the 12 mile hike accross the valley. About the time I was back to the place I had got to the day before I saw dust along the road seeming to be coming my way. I started signaling with my mirror and after about 15 minutes 3 jeeps with a family got to me. They gave me a ride back to my van. I lucked out! The guy is a auto mechanic he had a floor jack and tools with him. About an hour later we had the van jacked up and the ball joint removed. He and I then drove 60 miles each way to Purump Nevada and back to get the part while the rest of the family went on up the canyon to explore for the day. Late in the afternoon we were just finishing fixing it when the other two jeeps returned. They stopped to see how we were doing  and we said we were just about ready to get going. They then went around my van and headed on back. We finised cleaning up and he and his brother jumped into his jeep and followed me out at a much slower pace. We stopped a couple of times to check out the suspention and make sure everything was “OK” . It was. When we finally got across the valley and river he said to go ahead of him on the blacktop Bad Water road and to go as fast as I would drive normally which is the speed limit of about 45 to 50 MPH. It drove perfectly. After driving the 35 miles to the park campgroud area where they had their big RV parked they invited me in for a beer and dinner and I stayed parked there for the night.I stayed another night at the other camground up the hill a mile away and camped next a troup of boy scouts before driving to the north end of the park the next day.After seeing the conditions of the rest of the roads and my experiance with the broken suspention I decided to head east out of the park on the  paved road past Scotties Castel. From there I had to drive north and then west and back south to get to Yosemity. It is a great National Park. Stopped at some hot springs north of Mono Lake on the way. After Yosimite. it was a couple of days up Old 99 and I-5 to see friends in Ashland Or. for a couple of days Then I contiued north to Portland then east to Spokane Wash. to see my son and his family on my birthday the end of Feb 27. Then over to Seattle Wash. to do some some kayaking on Lake Union and Lake Wash. around Seattle . From there it was up towards Bellingham Wash. with a couple of nights stay near Antacortis. The ferry trip home from Bellingham was rainy and windy as it has been now for the 2 weeks I have been home.My hostel is now open and I’ve had a few guests already. I have reservations for quite a few for the summer now through my emails. A couple of groups 5 and 10 are coming to Ketchikan to go out to the Misty Fjords National Monument to go Kayaking. I start work running a boat about the 1st week of May. Till then I’ll be busy with chores around the house keeping the Hostel going. It was nice meeting you and hope you will make it to Ketchikan Alaska some day to do a kayak trip here.   Captain Dale Rogers

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