Thursday, October 25, 2012

Death Valley

                                  Death Valley, California
(At the urging of my wife, the captions will now appear below the photos)

Although Death Valley is somewhat isolated, I'm not sure that alone justifies the prices they were quoting for gas, diesel or food in the local market.

The, near Olympic size pool, at Furnace Creek
is completely devoid of chlorine or other man-made chemicals. This is a mineral spring fed water and flushed 4 times a day naturally, it's like swimming in "silk"

One of the coolest old refurbished RV's I have seen this year. I would of loved seeing the inside but couldn't bring myself to ask. This is an early 1950's Flixible.

A group of wild mustangs just outside the park were spotted one day while driving to Ash Meadows. This group of 6 mustangs with a newly born colt are giving some support of food and water at Death valley Junction.

The week before the big "49'er Days" started there was no shortage of entertainment nightly in the campground.

What I'd give to have Hanks fingers and musical beat, he was really very good but he was also the only musician would did not's got to know his limits, right?

Bret was outstanding as a drummer and looked just like a "parrothead".

I wouldn't categorize this as anything special...most nights looked like the above.

Sign says it all...20 miles outside the park.

See, even a forest of one, has a fall coloring.

Just past Dante's View on Hwy 190 is a slab city from a mining town of years ago. I talked to the local historian, ranger and internet search but still am no sure who or why the town was built.

These 20 or more slabs of cement were most likely the foundation for trailers or mobile homes of a mining community. The former town also had a swimming pool, hall, sewage treatment and water system...but still no one knows the who or why it is there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Reno to Death Valley, California

The drive from Reno to Death Valley should of been non-eventful had it not been for the horrendous winds in lower Nevada. First we had a awning that started to unravel at 60 MPH. After a stop for some "duck-tape"  repair we resumed our travels and while keeping an eye on the problem awning all of a sudden another part flew off the the roof. Turns out one of the air conditioning covers was torn loose by the 45 mph headwinds while driving 60 mph.

After driving 400 miles the last two days I was a little tired. Donna couldn't drive a 45,000 lbs motorhome but our faithful Benji jumped at the chance to show us how good of a driver he was. Mile after mile all he kept saying was "shit, a monkey could do this"!

We can't go to Death Valley without stopping for an ice cream at Amargosa Junction Cafe. Marta Becket first stopped here in 1967 because of flat tire and with offer to perform at the opera house, and never left. Marta quit performing this year at the age of 87, I hear she was quite a show...sorry I missed it.

If you want to stop at a "point of view" in Death Valley to see the surreal landscape and see four buses in the parking lot....move on to the next one, move on!

This is why! (anyone have a camera?)

A campground that is only 1/6th filled is not necessarily a bad thing in my book.

This is an original chassis of the one of the 20 Mule Team cargo carriers.

I have a fondness for the "lowly" coyote and went out many nights with my floodlight just to see the eye's looking back at me, 5 sets were most at one time. 

Don't ask, I just like this sign.

Sunset in Death Valley.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Eugene to Reno

 Leaving Monaco Service Center, we head towards Hwy 58 that goes over the Cascades to Klamath Falls, Oregon. Fall colors have already started to put on a pretty good show for mid-October.

We unexpectedly hit snow going over the summit. 

This is the way to travel. Wife and two dogs barely able to keep their eyes open while dad drives, hour after hour through snow and rain!

The beautiful land in Northern California Modoc area is largely, I mean really largely, lacking of human presence. 

Traveling down Hwy 139 from Klamath Falls, Or. to Susanville, Ca. 170 miles away, about the only stop is Adin, Ca.  This little town had one heck of a "general" store that seemed to have a little bit of everything.

Lucky for Donna, this guy was somewhat stuffed!

Thought this sign was smart, yet funny!

Eagle Lake, just north of Susanville, has special meaning for Donna and I although Jason our son hates to hear about it. We always remind him of which campground and camp site he was "conceived" in. haha

Friday, October 19, 2012

Monaco ServiceCenter

"After a 4 week delay because of bandwidth problems we resume our blog"

After leaving Salem, we make a run to Eugene, Oregon for some maintenance issues with the motorhome to be taken care of at the factory.

Monaco provides hook-ups for all motorhomes in for service and if you get there on a Thursday, you can stay the weekend for free.
We met quite a few interesting folks, also in for service, with their very new Dynasty's, Holiday Ramblers and other makes that Monaco has bought out.

Here Monaco is making sure that a pesky water leak when raining, was fixed.

Across the street from Monaco was the Marathon Motorhome factory that offered free tours for prospective buyers. The Prevost buses come from Canada "bear-bones" and are then completely stripped before any custom work is done.

This was one of their "spec" homes. We were told they build two spec's a year. 

This is what two million will get you...yes $2,000,000 good ole American dollars. But...for that 2 mil, you get what no one else on earth has because every home is custom made.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Silver Falls State Park

Just 20 miles east of Salem lies Silver Falls State Park. We took an afternoon drive without the dogs to see what was up there. The park has 10 reachable waterfalls just by following the signs on the trail. Since this is October and we had just witnessed a three month drought in the area I was surprised at how much water still flowed.

Upper North Falls are only 65 feet tall but so beautiful and only a few blocks from the parking area.

North Falls from about 1/2 mile away still looks awesome, but there is still something very special about North Falls.

There is a hike that goes behind the North Falls, so cool!.

The North Falls have a huge cave that has been cut away by the water.

We were hiking through a temperate rain forest to get to the falls.

South Falls Lodge was completed in 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps using only material from the park itself. The furniture inside, many chairs, tables and chests were made from just two myrtle trees. The combined weight of the those two trees was 18,000 pound, but after weeks in the kiln to control warpage they came out at 8,000 pounds. The 1940 furniture still looks beautiful today.

Donna overlooking the valley below from the State Park.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Weather Information Balloons

When we first got to our present RV lot in Salem, Donna had seen this sign on a couple of the cars here at the park. We'd had thought they may be storm chasers but when I asked the front desk about them, we were told that they release weather balloons regularly at the Salem Airport.

Ted Vaughn is owner of a company that has 5 year contracts at 4 or 5 of the 87 sites around the United States that release weather balloons twice a day...once at 4:00 am and again at 4:00 pm. All 87 sites across the country release at the same time. As president of the company he gets to pick which site he'll release from. Ted got his degree in meteorology while in the Navy.

While most of my friends know I am a weather addict, unfortunately this is about the extent of my weather education.

The cardboard box Ted is holding is the key to National Weather Service Center getting current meteorology information from our atmosphere. At $400 a launch, this little box has a GPS chip for altitude, a temperature recorder and humidity sensor. All data is recorded and sent back to Ted once every second. 

This building houses the radar that tracks the balloon and is where the balloons are filled.

Most balloons burst at around 90,000 to 100,000 feet. Ted did have one hit a record 131,801 feet before bursting.

Ted fills the balloon with hydrogen, which is flammable, in a completely grounded safe room which even cell phone are excluded.

If the balloon doesn't burst, or comes down unexpectedly, there are warnings for any unaware people to be careful of the material.

Damn it! Because I was doing the photos, Donna got to release the balloon...and she did a good job of it too:-) The orange cloth attached to the balloon is a parachute. The control box is hung another 100 feet below the parachute...nearly all are made of environmentally friendly (biodegradable) products.

After Ted called the tower and got the ok for the flight, off goes balloon "Donna", rising at 1000 feet per minute for it's expected 90 minute flight. 

By the time it hits 90,000 feet this balloon will have increased in size to about as big as a house.

Now it is back to the office to start collecting the data that will be released to the National Weather Service. After all the information is downloaded and then "cleaned up" by Ted, it is then uploaded to NWS.

Below is one of the many grafts Ted must interpret before sending along. Far line on the left shows the steady rise of the balloon. The middle line is temperature and the far right is the humidity. An example of "cleaning up" is, while rising through a cloud, if water gets on the humidity sensor and it freezes, the info would be corrupt and this is part of the "cleaning up" of the data that Ted must do.

Many thanks to Ted for his time and consideration in explaining the inner workings of his weather balloon company. We now have a much better understanding how weather is reported.