Monday, November 19, 2018

Death Valley and the Jedi Transition

Pretty much every morning while camped near Travertine hot springs, Bridgeport, California, it would be a run to the hot water of the springs at first light, hoping to be the first and get my favourite pool.  It was chilly in the mornings, sometimes frost on the windshield and the heated seats were welcome.IMG_0005
Staying in the hot water till the sun came up was the key.  Once the sun appeared, the temperatures warmed up very quickly, and a towel was not even needed to dry off!  That strategy was working well till the truck refused to start a couple mornings Sad smile  I was actually surprised that the batteries had lasted as long as they did, having killed them completely a couple of times over the past couple of years.  In one case, an outside light on the camper had come on while parked at a fire camp while I was working at a remote fire lookout for 2-3 weeks.  So with batteries in mind, I left Hailey to guard the rig, and I backtracked northward up 395 to Gardnerville and Carson City, Nv.  Got the new batteries installed, then decided the time was right for a radiator flush, after nearly 400,000km.  I’d noticed that the truck had begun to run a bit warm on any sustained climb while towing the 5th wheel – and it never used to. Luckily the guy at Jiffy Lube suggested getting the work done at a radiator shop – and it turns out that was good advice as a simple radiator flush would have done nothing for the problem.  At Douglas radiator, the entire radiator and inter-cooler were removed from the truck.  Then the cause of the problem became very evident.  Although it was not visible from either the front of the rear of the rad, it was jam packed full of desert dust, bugs, feathers, moose parts, and I think there was even an elephant tusk in there.  The guys at the shop had to steam clean the rad from the front and the back before finally getting it clean and shiny and like new again!  Bring on the hills again.
Seems like Hailey had some company one night, as captured on my trail camera.
I think we had been at Bridgeport for about a week and it was getting close to the time to head out.  The final morning it was more than a little chilly as I headed to the pools.  My truck thermometer read –14C (7F), but the weather app said it was –17C (1.4F), and the water ceased to come from the taps!  Definitely time to head for some lower elevations!
Around noon we headed south, briefly stopping in Bishop to fill a propane bottle, then carrying on down to Lone Pine, and the Alabama Hills!  My spot from last spring was available, but what’s this? Some sort of sign at the entrance road!  It had the familiar circle with a line through it for cars, trailers, etc.  Hmmpfh!  Luckily, I got out and took a closer look at this new sign.  Aha!  It only said ‘not recommended’ for the above types of vehicles.  It makes sense because just past my site in both directions there were nasty little dips through washes, only suitable for jeeps or horses!  But since I was there in the spring, I knew there was enough room for me (to turn around), but not enough space to allow for noisy or unwelcome neighbours!
Could have used the extra space, as a friend from back home showed up with his 5th wheel after attending a trade show in Vegas.  Found him a spot a half mile away.  Took him one day over to the Jedi Transition (google it), but no planes were seen.  Nice day though.
I had been monitoring the progress of Kevin & Ruth as they seemed to be following the same route as me – from the California coast across to the Reno, Nv area, then their first trip down the 395.  They stopped by the Alabama Hills for a quick overnight and a hike before resuming their trip towards Mexico, eventually.
With my truck no longer concerned about the hills in Death Valley, that was the way we headed out.  Surprisingly, we caught up to them at the Jedi Transition.  This time however, there were a number of aircraft blasting through the narrow canyon below the viewpoint!
After the impromptu air show we took the steep winding downhill into Death Valley, followed by a couple of extended climbs, all of which were handled with ease by the big GMC.  
Price of diesel in Panamint Springs in Death Valley - $5.79/g  We didn't even slow down!  Compare that with $3.23/g in Pahrump, Nv!
Departing the park, we found a very nice abandoned RV park thanks to Don & Donna for an overnight stop.  It is known as the ‘Pads’, and it looks like an extensive RV park with concrete slabs to park on, widely separated, and good scenery all around.
It’s right close to the highway, but far enough away that noise is not a factor.  The roads are paved, and the sites are concrete!  It appears to be a cellular-free zone, so I set up my satellite internet system to stay connected.vlcsnap-2018-11-18-19h24m47s464Kevin & Ruth pulled in just after us and were back on the road early in the morning.
Like them we crossed over into Nevada in the morning for some cheaper fuel and propane in Pahrump.  While they continued to towards Vegas, we doubled back into California at Shosone, and then on down south to Baker.  South of the I-15 at Baker is the Mojave National preserve. We have found some pretty ideal spots (for us) not too far into the preserve.
IMG_0559There is a nice rock pile for hunting opportunities!
IMG_0560IMG_0562Nothing to do with Hailey, but I found a dead kangaroo rat just laying in a wash while on a hike in the area.
I think this must be a tortoise burrow/den, but in spite of a flashing warning sign on the highway, none were spotted.
I found a few of these round balls laying in a wash.  The first one, I thought it might be a plastic ball someone had lost, but I finally found the source bush!IMG_0576
One of Hailey’s playmates.IMG_5134
McDonalds appears to be bribing customers for good reviews …
Walmart, on the other hand, appears to have shoplifting warnings (?) in Spanish only in the washroom.  Looked all over, but didn’t find one in English!IMG_0555


  1. Those little balls look like some kind of nightshade plant, not good for horses.

  2. Nice to catch up again... see you down the road... :-)

  3. Some nice pictures, great views. Love the kitty pictures.


  4. You making good time and good thing to get your rad fixed up again. Nice that you caught up with Kevin and Ruth again in their travels.

  5. I would have really enjoyed that Jedi Transition spot. I am so homesick for the southwest I could spit!!

    1. The southwest is still here in all it's scenic warmth. Fire up that Triple E and get down here! We'll save a spot for y'all ;-)

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