Death Valley, California
November 7-19, 2007 - After leaving Valley of Fire, we spent some time near Las Vegas visiting friends, staying at Boulder Beach
on Lake Mead. The lake was 85 feet low when we visited in 2004, and now, three years later, was 105 feet low. A campground
and boat launch had closed a few months earlier because they were now nowhere near the lake anymore, and we heard that the
turbines in the dam would soon be above the water level. Scary stuff. At least Lake Mead still had her pretty colors in the
We hiked along the rails-to-trails path that
goes from Boulder Beach on Lake Mead to
Hoover Dam. It passes through some old
train tunnels and comes right out at the
visitors center for the Dam. There is a
wonderful statue commemorating the
daring and hard physical labor it took to
blast the rock and pour the concrete to
build the dam.
From Las Vegas we made our way to
Death Valley. We arrived on Veterans Day
and found the road through the park
lined with flag waving veterens
celebrating the days of the 49ers, the
intrepid souls who traversed Death
Valley in pursuit of gold in 1849. The
campground was full, so we were
guided back up the mountain to an
open boondocking area by the side
of the road.
This was our first introduction to true boondocking -- where you set up camp
on public land and stay a while. There were many other rigs in the area, and
as we got to know our neighbors we discovered they were part of the
Escapees Boondockers club and were gathered there for a few days.
Eventually most of the Escapees left, but we stayed with another rig
and enjoyed long lazy days and silent nights.
It felt so good to relax after our whirlwind tour of the northwest. We
stayed almost two weeks, making music with our neighbors and
exploring the area.
Death Valley is the hottest place in the country on many summer
days, but in November the weather was perfect.
We learned that the 49ers took two routes to the gold mines in
northern California. One group went around Death Valley, but the
other group trudged through the middle of it. They barely survived.
Borax is mined in Death Valley and has been since the late
1800's. It was hauled out by mule team, and to this day Borax
has an image of the mule team on the container.
We took the Artist's Drive which is
a thin ribbon of road that winds
among brightly colored hills. The
light danced on across the cliffs.
Back at the visitors center we
found the perfect gift for a young
child. If only we could all be
children for a little while once
From Death Valley we wandered east and
south through Laughlin, Nevada and then
down along the Colorado River to Lake Havasu,
Arizona and finally settled in Quartzsite, Arizona.