Death Valley Anniversary 2003~2004
In Shoshone Lolli went to the museum to get postcards, I filled the gas tank and water tank. While Lolli was grocery shopping I asked the store owner if there was anyone around that could remove stitches? He pointed to the health clinic just three buildings up the highway!
I walked over to it and, sure enough, a regular health clinic. The nurse had me go into one of the small rooms, took a look, and asked why I had eight stitches in the side of my neck. I told her. She sat down and removed them. She said, “Who ever did those stitches was really good, they used one continuous running stitch! I don’t see that kind of work very often.” Soon she was done. I asked how much. "No charge"!!
I caught up with Lolli and we had lunch at the Crowbar Café and Bar. A cheeseburger for me. Prawns for her. Lolli finished her postcards, off to the Post Office, then to Tecopa for a shower and a soak.
After our soak, we headed back into the vast wilderness to visit the cabin we had stayed at last year before, and after, our wedding. It was four in the afternoon and the sky completely overcast so it was already getting rather dark. We got to the turn off and up the rut we go. The cute thing about this cabin… we never know if we have it to ourselves until we make the final turn out of the wash. We made that turn and Yippee! It was ours!
We parked and looked around. A propane barbeque was out in the “front yard”. In the cabin there was a down vest hanging on a chair. The place looked like someone was there, maybe out walking. Further investigation convinced us no, except for the mouse, it was all ours.
Darkness arrived and we got the 55 gallon barrel fireplace going and the chill off the cabin. The place looked real good.
We woke to a beautiful day coming on, did the lazy get up and I decided to fly my LazyBee. There was no wind to speak of. I got out the table and the equipment, checked receiver and transmitter voltages, and fired her up. The driveway to the left of the cabin looked pretty good for takeoff so I set her down, ran up the throttle, taxied, and poured on the coal. Up and away she went and then to the left and it started to spin and spin. I wiggled the sticks but I could not get her straightened out. She was spiraling down so I finally remembered to cut the throttle. She landed in the rocks. Damn! I walked out to get her. All that was damaged was the prop was broke, the spinner cracked, the landing gear rubber band broke, and the landing gear structure pushed back some on the right side. Not too bad. I took her back to the bench.
I replaced the prop and got the landing gear straightened out. I had thought that maybe I had mixed up the sticks and used the left stick instead of the right to try and turn but no, I discovered that the pushrod clevis had come off the rudder control horn! Evidently the rough driveway takeoff had tweaked the tail gear and caused the clevis to pop off! I put it back on and was good to go.
The next time I hand launched and that went fine. Up and away she goes. I flew around and around and did some fly byes and then I decided to see if I could land on the gravel road. I brought her around and slowed down and committed to landing, coming in good... and discovered I was too far to the right of the drive and was going to hit my lawn chair! I gave it some up and cleared the chair but clipped the work table! Lolli thought I was trying to land on the table and I almost did! No damage, amazing! I decided to take a break from flying!
We started our first game of Petanque. We were playing and suddenly a Toyota 4x4 comes around the bend, down the grade, and honks an "Oooga" horn! We waved and on down it comes. Some white haired guy with a dog. He parked and hopped out and we introduced ourselves. His name was Jake. His dog was Tinker. We visited and talked about the cabin and he mentioned he was here to check and see what needed fixing; he and some friends were coming out Friday to do some work. He had a drill motor with him and we fixed the upper hinge on the outhouse. I told him I was going to fix a couple of chairs in the cabin that were loose and wobbly. He left for Pahrump.
Lolli and I played another game of Petanque. I am now two games up! What I call a good game!
5:26 PM and well into dark, we holed up in the cabin with the wood stove going, the candles lit. Lolli read her book and I caught up with this missive. It had got up to around 60 degrees during the afternoon!
There was a full moon shining in the Vanagon windows at night and bright sun striking the Vanagon at 7:26 AM. Perfect.
The weather just got better and better. We did our lazy morning get up and I got inspired and did some fixing around the cabin. There was a largish sheet of Plexiglas in the cabin. Since the glass was missing in the window by the wood stove I figured it must be for that window. I removed the window frame, measured and cut the Plexiglas to size, and installed it. Some of the wood screws holding the frame together were stripped so I used tooth picks to add grip. I straightened the photo of the ring tailed cat, put the door back on the medicine chest that some fool had pried off.
I did a drawing of the cabin on the cover of the log book. Then we went for a hike. During our walk we saw coyote tracks, deer or sheep tracks, and burro tracks! It looked like maybe three or four burro and a baby burro had walked along our route within the previous 12 hours. By the time we got back to camp the solar shower was ready! After our showers I beat Lolli at another game of Petanque; I am now four games up on her!
In the morning we woke to a nice moon setting behind the cabin. We had our breakfast and coffee and I was just getting started on repairing more furniture when a white pick up came around the bend, an old grizzled guy with white hair and beard pulled up. I said, "You must be Tom". He said, "You must be Ron, Jake told me you were out here". Soon Jake showed up and then their friends Jeff and Marti. Soon they had their guns out and were shooting. Mostly 22’s but Jeff had a 223 something that was quite loud. Tom had made a target out of the protective cover from a oxygen cylinder and had mounted it to a heavy link chain. He had a length of re-bar with a tab welded on top to put a bolt through to hold the chain. Jeff had a sledge hammer so Tom and I walked over to the hill and he picked out where he wanted it and I pounded it in. Jeff grabbed his 223, took aim, BAM!, and the target fell to the ground! Jeff had cut the chain in half! Tom said, "Well, Damn!"
Marti set out a bunch of deviled eggs and sweet rolls, then got out her cleaning supplies and set to work cleaning the counters and table and sink in the cabin, then swept it out. Us guys got to work cleaning out the fire pit, dealing with the outhouse by smoothing out the pile and put lime on it and then soaking it with twenty gallons of water.
Late in the afternoon Marti brought out hotdogs and chili and beans. I checked and lit the barbeque that had been left at the cabin; by golly the five gallon cylinder of propane felt almost full. We heated the food on that and soon had a buffet style lunch and sat around and visited.
Nice bunch of folks. Soon they headed out. Marti left us hot dogs and beans and chili for our evening dinner.
Saturday morning we packed up and put the cabin to bed, closed the shutters, latched the door. Then played another round of Petanque. I beat Lolli again making five games straight for the Old Fart! We rattled out to the highway and went to Tecopa for a dip in the Hot Springs. Jeff said that the Tecopa Hot Springs are going to go private because the county can’t afford to keep them going! I hope he is wrong. I heard the same story several years ago.
From the Hot Springs up to Shoshone and then over to Pahrump, Nevada. We hooked up with our new friend Tom and he showed us around his place. He let me fill my Vanagon water tank with his well water. He builds birdhouses as a hobby and gave Lolli one. He is 78 years old and bought a 1977 corvette last year... but he really wants a Harley! I like his style! A very interesting guy.
Into Pahrump for a late breakfast of sausage and eggs at Mom’s. Next a laundry matt. Then a Smith’s market for groceries.
We headed for our next cabin at 4:30 PM as the sun was going down. Seventeen miles up Salisbury Pass, the CV Joint started talking for the first time the whole trip! I eased off the throttle, got it quieted down, hoped for the best, and pressed on. I had the laptop and GPS going and soon we arrived at the turnoff to the cabin. We started through the greasewood on a sandy rut thinking we would just pull over and call it a night if the going got too rough or the CV joint seized. We were creeping along and soon Lolli spotted the cabin through the gathering darkness and by golly, we arrived. We hopped out and explored. The cabin was quite large and had several rooms. We would explore more in the morning when it got light.
The morning sun cleared the hill quicker than I thought it would, 7:30 AM. Perfect. 42 degrees. By 1:30 PM it was 65 degrees in the Vanagon with the ShadyBoy deployed, the sliding door open, and the back hatch open! A very light breeze coming up from Death Valley. Perfect.
The cabin was surprisingly well stocked. The boom box worked as did the portable radio on the table. The refrigerator would need ice to stay cool since there is no electricity. Kerosene in the lanterns. Log book. Wood stove. Very nice.
We did a walk-about. There was a lot of debris from mining activity, even an 1950’s era Hudson laying in the weeds. Up the hill was foundations and timbers and mining odds and ends.
After our walk I went to work. I got out Eddie’s half shaft that I had been hauling around with me just in case I had CV joint trouble. Aren't I smart!! I jacked up the Vanagon and removed the left side half shaft and installed Ed’s. I hope it is going to work okay.
I beat Lolli at another game of Petanque but it was close, 12 to 12! I squeaked by and got the final point. It was total calm by 4:00 PM so I expressed thoughts about flying the Bee. Lolli said go for it! I checked the batteries, still good, fired her up.
I hand launched and had a hairy take-off but I got her straightened out and the throttle cut back and soon was buzzing around the cabin and the surroundings. I practiced doing fly-byes up the driveway. My last landing went really quite well. It was beautiful to see it flying in the late sunlight.
We moved our chairs and barbeque up in front of the cabin and used the outdoor fire pit. This was our first outdoor fire of the whole trip. It was very nice. I barbeed pork steaks and Lolli did fried potatoes with garlic and also cooked broccoli. Yum! It was a splendid evening. Bats flying around. We are going to hang out here for another day or two and then mosey back towards the barn. The view and surroundings and the duration of the sunshine makes this place wonderful. We have a very comfortable set up what with the ShadyBoy, the bus leveled, the propane refrigerator keeping things around 40 degrees… we are living large!
Two days later we headed out at 11:00 AM after Lolli beat me at yet another game of Petanque. The running total, Me 7 She 3.
We drove to Shoshone and Lolli bought more postcards. We drove to Tecopa and took a dip. We unloaded our trash at the dumpsters by the trees in Tecopa, then over to the post office to send our post cards. I mention I would like to stop at the dry lake north of Baker and fly the Bee if the wind isn’t too strong.
Down the hill we go and when we get to the dry lake we see a bunch of motor homes lined up in a row. What are they doing out there? Why aren’t they over at Little Dumont Dunes or someplace else. I whip out the binoculars to see what they are up to. By golly there are model airplanes on stands by some of those motor homes!! We drive over to them. Yes! Model airplane folks! Turns out they are a group from Pahrump, Nevada!!
We are invited to join them. I see three U-Can-Do, and Extra 300L and a twin. The guy next to where we park, Tom, has a big electric plane that he scratch built. He makes his own props. We stay the night. Everyone heads off to their various motor homes for dinner but we are invited to their group campfire in the evening. Hopefully the wind will be calm in the morning.
There were clouds at daybreak but it cleared as the day came on. The wind had subsided. I got out the Bee and flew some big lazy laps around and some slow fly byes. Tom flew his electric powered Wendell/Williams racer and John flew his twin. The other guys flew U-Can-Do’s.
We couldn't stay so said our good byes and hit the road around 11:00 AM. We stopped at the Mad Greek in Baker for munchies. Gas in Barstow, took the new bypass around Mojave, over Tehachapi, down into the fog, FOG!, through Bakersfield, and onto I-5 for the long grind north listening to books on tape, this time, Jeremy Irons reading “Lolita”.
The miles sailed by and soon we were at our little camping wayside by Firebaugh Road and called it a day. Seven hours of driving under our belt. Not a peep from Eddie’s CV Joint. Perfect!
By 3:30 PM, the 16th of January, we were home. A great vacation!