Friday, November 23, 2012

Callville Bay on Lake Mead, Nevada

After Death Valley we stopped in Las Vegas at the Oasis Luxury RV Park, what a mistake. Besides them having water problem that required excavating and turning off the water at times, it smelled! We needed to stay in the Vegas are for doctors visits and catching up with friends.

We soon moved to Callville Bay campground some 25 miles from town...what a difference. Although there were no hook ups, we have solar and a generator so no problem there, it was perfectly quiet, sparse of visitors and the weather kicked butt! $5 a day gets you a huge site with showers and flush toilets.

Just outside the campground are a series of hikes, some of which take you up a hill overlooking the lake.

My morning walk always included a strenuous 1/4 mile hike up the boat ramp. On this morning I knew they were going to pull a houseboat out for the season so I boogied back to the camp site for my camera.

Quite impressive to watch them pull the 50,000 pound houseboat from the lake up the 19 degree ramp. We have in the past rented a houseboat but now a days they are way too expensive for my blood.

Few things, while camping, are as relaxing as a nice campfire.

What can I each their own.

Literally just minutes from Callville are some of the most outstanding landscapes in the west.

There are a number of 4x4 roads that when they say 4x4...they mean it.

Here is the "world famous" Las Vegas River. Wild trout, catch and release and I am surprised I don't see fishermen in float tubes on the water. (na, its the Vegas Wash, all the street runoff going into the lake)

A view of the Las Vegas Strip some 17 miles away through the trees of the bankrupt Lake Las Vegas resort.

Enjoying lunch overlooking the lake, did someone say "treat".

From the lake road we can see the entrance for the $1,000,000,000
intake tunnel project under Lake Mead that was prompted because of the falling water levels of the last 10 years.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Titus Canyon in Death Valley

This I believe was the first time I had been to Titus Canyon and it will be the last of our Death Valley blog. My brother Jack wanted to test his Jeep on this 24.1 mile dirt road so off we go.

Just a about two miles from the Titus Canyon turn off is Rhyolite, the ghost town.

Rhyolite started in 1904, became a huge gold boomtown (why was it called Rhyolite is anyones guess) and the lights were turned out by 1916. It's funny that Charles M Schwab (no relationship to the banker) a protégé of Andrew Carnegie, bought the biggest mine for 2 million or more in 1906.

After about ten miles we stopped for a break and looked back behind us...what a beautiful valley we drove through without even noticing it till now.

At about mile 13 we are getting near the top of the pass that leads down to the canyon.

Partway down the pass we came to this cut in the hill. All the rock was heavily polished which leads us to believe that, because of the angle on the hill, it must be an ice fall. We could see where no sun hits it for a good part of the year.

My brother was giving me some good real estate advice about buying here in Leadfield. Seems it was quite a con job getting folks to buy into this town that went from boom to bust in one year.

Not sure if Leadfield has a zip code, but I know people who could fix and flip this tin shed.

This photo may not clearly show that the alluvial fan coming out of this small canyon was carrying uniformly sized and uniformly, the same purple color rock...not something that I see everyday.

Within the deepest part of the canyon you are virtually an arms length on either side of the vehicle.

By looking at the wall you could almost feel the amount of energy and pressure it took to break, fold and flip the sediments and rock. As a side note...not sure at this point how much more of Jacks "gayest imitation" of Huell Howser's California travel narrative I can take...people do have their limits!

After 24 miles, we only have 1/10th of a mile left of the beautiful Titus Canyon. The canyon suddenly opens up to the north end of Death Valley floor, a welcome sight.

Upon exiting the canyon, Jack and I were greeted to one of Death Valley's violent, but rare fall storms.
This pretty well sums up our visit to Death Valley, a stop that will most certainly be added to our future travels.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Furnace Creek Inn

Donna and I have been to Death Valley nearly 20 times having stayed at the Ranch motel, tent camping and now in a motorhome...we have yet to stay at the Inn but it may have something to do with the price.

Here I am trying to convince my older brother to put me up for a night at the Furnace Creek Inn. Cheapest room is $340 + $12 hotel charge and 12% California hotel tax on top of that? I've bought cars for less money!

Besides the monetary cost of the Inn, it has a wealth of history, timeless elegance and a long list of past famous occupants. 

Alex Cabana, the manager of the hotel, gave a group of us a tour with the history and idiosyncrasies of the Inn. Seems Marlon Brando and a few others, Presidents, Senators and state officials all had their own favorite rooms. Built in the 1920's the hotel has made a special effort to update it's accommodation while also very careful to keep the same style and ambiance.

Donna wants to know why we can't get this room...with it's own special patio.

Alex, the hotel manager said something to the effect that they won't rent to the "tie-dye" crowd! haha

Jack and Dayle are the only people I know who could really afford to stay at the Inn. :-)

For over $400 a night you get to go downstairs and view a solid calcite wall. (or for a dollar you can take the tour and see it)

Then again it's hard to beat such a beautiful pool area.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Death Valley 49'er Parade

The Death Valley 49'ers is a non-profit, all volunteer organization with the sole purpose of promoting Death Valley. The encampment is scheduled every November and draws up to 600 motorhomes, trailers and vans. I got the feeling that even though the 49'ers promote the valley and give a scholarship every year to a Death Valley resident, (usually one of the rangers kid) they weren't all together welcomed, because of the size of the encampment and the pressure of all those folks put on the Death Valley infrastructure.

There were plenty of "period dress" couples in the 49'er parade.

Even some of the little four legged critters got into the act.

Now I might join the parade if someone would let me ride this bad-boy. I have to hand it to the lady riding the Segway she looked to be in her late 80's.

Many of the 49'ers had these small replica wagons in the parade, all with rubber tires.

Brenda, one of the singers playing all week, serenaded the parade participants as they rode or walked by.

This cowpoke looked like he just got off a 10 day, rough ride on the range. I expect to see a black Harley parked right next to his black saddled horse.:-)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Borax 20 Mule Team

While the 20 Mule Team ran just six years, from 1883 to 1889, much like the short history of the Pony Express... they left quite a mark in our storied past. The 20 Mule Team delivered over 36 tons of refined borax to the rail station at Mojove...165 miles and 10 days away.
This link provides a personal account of being a "teamster" on the
  20 mule team.

         The "20 Mule team is actually 18 mules and two draft horses.

It takes a while for the crew to harness all the animals.

Donna and our sister-in-law Dayle, wait for the "replica" mule team to ride by. This is the first time in 13 years the 20 mule team gave a full demonstration in Death Valley for the 49'er Days.

Here the team was demonstrating "jumping the chain" which they really needed to do just to get around the sharp corner.

You get a perspective of size with Donna standing next to the 
seven foot wheel.

This is a bit heavier than I first thought.

Bobby Tanner Jr from Bishop, California, along with his aging father Bob Tanner are two of a very small group that can expertly handle a large group of mules with a "single-jerk" line.

Donna and Dayle are waving good-bye and hoping to see 
the team again in the not too distant future.

This wagon train at the Harmony Works in Death Valley is the "only"  train in existence that made the 165 mile trip in the late 1900's. All the other show trains were based in Boron and made much short trips. I realize Death Valley is a dry climate but your'd think that something with this much historical value would at the very least have a cover?