Saturday, May 14, 2011

From Vegas to Death Valley

We haven't had good cell coverage for the last week so I have to post our travel starting when we left Vegas. I will post more pictures on the link on the top left of the blog on the main page, that takes you to photobucket.  The pictures from Death Valley are incredible!  We are in Carson City tonight. We drove through Lake Tahoe but didn't stay for long. We had to skip Yosemite because of the road being closed due to snow. They don't think it will reopen until July sometime. That's ok.  We have seen and will continue to see other beautiful parts of the country.  Maybe we'll leave Yosemite for another trip. :) Here you go!

Monday, May 9th

Hello from the Valley of Death!  We made a stop by Death Valley today, coming off of a 3 day Vegas high. :)  I don't have any good fortune stories for you, unfortunately. We had a blast in Las Vegas and Hoover Dam over the last 3 days though. We stayed at Sams Town casino about 7 miles off of the strip, and it had an RV Park right outside of the parking lot. We ate well at the buffets, we played some games, we walked 50 miles every day trying to see all of the casinos and shows that they offer, we played at the pinball hall of fame, took pictures at the Welcome to Vegas sign, went to a swap meet and even saw where they film Pawn Stars, on the Discovery channel.  We were busy! I probably only got to play a maximum of 2 hours in the casino because we were so busy.  But, Joe and I did get to put a dollar or 2 into the slots at just about every casino that we walked into. We were up and down and it was fun.  We saw the old and new parts of the town. We got to see the World's largest gold nugget and take a picture behind $1 million!  I have been out to Vegas many times, but never really got to see any of the tourist stuff, so it was nice to get to see some of that.  Laurie had a mile long list of things to do and we got to most of them.  Laurie's highlight of Vegas was playing at the pinball hall of fame.  It is off of Tropicana ave and it is a 5000sq ft building, packed with pinball machines from the 1940's through today.  It was cool to see the history of the pinball machine and to see what it evolved into nowadays.  We had a lot of laughs and fun but we had to keep moving today.  

When we left, it was sprinkling on and off today.  We drove towards Death Valley, our next stop, and had to go over a mountain range. It started snowing again!  Well, it was nice having 90 degree weather for 2 days!  We thought being out in the desert was supposed to be hot. It's not! 

 I didn't know too much about Death Valley before we got here, but now I know just enough to tell people about it.  It was name Death Valley from the travels of a group of people that cut through this part of the country as a short cut to get to California back in the 1800's. All but 1 person made it out alive, but they still called it Death Valley.  It is over 200ft below sea level and is very hot in the summertime.  On Thursday it is supposed to be 102.  Right now, it's 73 and a high tomorrow of 88.  Not bad for a place that is called Death Valley.  There is a small resort here with a golf course and a few things to see and do.  The mountains are rocky and have a lot of various colors in them. We are going to go sightseeing tomorrow and then hopefully, we'll all go play a round of golf out here.  I'll finally be able to get the sticks out, instead of just carrying them out here and never using them!  Who would have thought that our first round of golf for the trip would be in Death Valley. I'll take it though!  I would like to ride my bike over some of these hills too.  They look pretty fun to try and climb.  

In a few days we'll be traveling to Goldfield, NV, then to Yosemite, the Redwood Forest and then up the coast to Seattle to fly out for Shana and Todd's wedding.  This trip is going by so fast but it has been a lot of fun so far.  This country has so much to see and so many diverse regions in it.  I better get to bed because we getting an "early" start tomorrow. Probably 10am…but that is early than most of our starts. :)  Good night!

View from Hoover Dam into Lake Mead

Laurie & I at the Bellagio

Jan & Laurie

New bridge to the Hoover Dam

Joe at the Venetian

Lake Mead

Holly got to swim when we stayed at Lake Mead

Vic the Cowboy!

Speaks for itself!

Tuesday, May 10th

We survived another day in Death Valley. We took a gorgeous drive around Death Valley and saw some mountains that were various colors, salt flats that were rigid because of the winds and just some spectacular views and rock colors and formations that I have never seen before. This park is a must see for everyone!  It is breezy and sunny today.  Very pleasant.  We played golf this afternoon at the course where "I played my lowest round of golf." :)  200ft below sea level!  The course was pretty and in great shape for being out in the middle of a dry desert.  We saw some coyotes, rabbits and a roadrunner. Beep Beep!  Joe, Laurie and I went and played.  We had a blast.  Joe finished his round on #9 but Laurie and I continued to play the rest of the course.  I finished with an 88.  Not bad for not having played golf in forever!  Plus, I finally got to use my clubs!  We had a fire and had s'mores also.  Not a bad day at all.  

Death Valley

The Devil's Golf Course. Seriously, that is what it is called.  Salt and sand form this!

Salt Flats

Natural Bridge

Of course I picked it up...and put it back!

Always climbing something!

Two happy Death Valleyers.

Now that is a look!

Artists Pallet

First time on the golf course. He did well too! 

Look at that form!

Showin' us how it is done!

One of the few coyote sightings

I played my lowest round of golf!

Beep Beep! Roadrunner

Wednesday, May 11th

We left our campsite this morning and drove down the road to Stovepipe Springs (Still in Death Valley).  We parked the RV's there so we could drive the truck to different places around the park.  The first stop we had was a mile hike up a creaked to see marble rock formations.  That was very cool!  There were so many different colors.  I was looking for tarantulas along the way because the sign said that they "might" be out, but we didn't see any.  We drove out towards Beatty, NV, and old mining town outside the park.  On the way there, we stopped by a ghost town called Rhyolite.  They used to mine for gold there, but deserted it when the mining business ran out of money.  We walked around some of the structures that were left like an old brothel and jailhouse.  We walked up to an old mineshaft but it was gated off. We drove into Beatty for lunch and stopped at a saloon.  The food wasn't that good, but it was one of the only places to eat in town.  We tried to find a hot springs after lunch and after turning around after passing it, we found it.  It was in a campground and the springs were located inside wooden buildings.  The water flowed through the building.  There was a gravel floor in the spring that you could stand in or sit in.  We opted not to do either.  I just took some pictures and told the indian that was running the joint, thank you. We stopped back through Beatty on the way back and picked up a cargo container for the top of the motorhome, since ours blew off in Arkansas somewhere.  It looks militaryish, but I think it will hold up well. On the way back to the RV's we took a dirt/rock/gravel road through a canyon.  This was the highlight of Death Valley for me.  The road was rough for about 15 miles, so it took us 3 hours to get through it, but it was well worth it.  We drove through the desert, up into the mountains, through a ghost town and finally through a canyon.  It was an old creek bed that cut right through the mountains.  There was marble rocks on both side, jagged cliffs and the most beautiful scenery.  I couldn't believe we were driving the truck through a mountain range.  So cool!   We made it back to the RV's at night and drove to another campsite.  We were exhausted from a long day, but it was another great day of scenery.  

Old Railcar

Bank Building

Old Brothel! Is that a smile?

Outside of Beatty, NV.  They do exist!

Mine Shaft 

Drive through the canyon


Thursday, May 12th

We got up this morning and put our cargo container on the top of the motorhome.  It looks good sitting up top but we are going to give it a trial run before we put stuff in it.  I want to see if it is going to hold up there.  We drove to a crater in the park today.  It is 500ft deep and was created by a volcano. We drove up to the rim of it and were able to look inside of it.  The edge was steep with black gravel.  Every day that we have spent in Death Valley has been amazing. It is one thing after another.  On the edge of the crater, it was windy so we didn't stay too long.  I wish we had a sled to slide down into the bottom of the crater.  That would have been fun.  After that we drove to Scotty's Castle.  A large house that was once owned by some Chicago Millionaires.  they built the house as a getaway from the business world in Chicago.  This guy named Scotty (last name) kept calling it his mansion when he talked to people.  the owners like Scotty so they went along with him calling it his mansion. Basically Scotty was a scam artist, but was friends with the owners, so it took on the name Scotty's Mansion.  It was pretty.  The Spanish style decorations were very well crafted.  We left there at 3pm and headed out towards Goldfield, NV. We arrived in Goldfield today and walked into the City Hall to try and find record of Joe's dad's property that he bought back in the early 40's. The town was definitely old and run down, but it had a cool historical feel to it.  There were mining equipment on the surrounding mountains and you could see reminiscences of the Goldfield hay day throughout town.  We talked to the lady at City Hall and she took our name and information down and said that she would have someone look it up for us.  We walked into town and talked with a man that lived in Goldfield for a while.  He told us of some Silver mines that he owned and some hot springs that we could visit.  Then, we walked by the old Goldfield Hotel that used to be the town centerpiece back in the early 1900's.  Now it is rundown and vacant.  Roosevelt stayed there on his way through town one day.  We stopped at the Santa Fe Saloon down the road and had a beer at the oldest bar still operating in Nevada.  It was built in 1906 and the owner of it died in a historical gunfight. I put a dollar in the $0.05 video poker machine and won $1.50.  Yeah!  I was on fire, but I cashed out while I was ahead.  We left town, with the hope that the City Hall lady will call us back with some Bodenmiller property information.  It was a nice town to visit. We drove to Tonopah, NV and are staying in the Mickey D's parking lot tonight, along with 4 other trucks.  It is cool out so no A/C will be needed.  Not sure where we are going tomorrow since the East road to get into Yosemite is closed right now. We might have to bypass that and head straight for the Redwood forest.  See ya later!

500ft Volcanic crater

Scotty's Castle


  1. Info on the old caboose:

    It is Union Pacific caboose #3303,
    built by Pullman in November 1903
    It was originally number 4217 of the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad,
    The LA&SL became part of the UP in 1921.
    The caboose was renumbured to UP 3303 in January 1922.
    It was retired in October 1928.
    It is 30 feet long.

    Ain't the internet great?

  2. Wow! That was more than what was on the information pamphlet! There really wasn't much info on the ghost town. There wasn't anyone there to ask either. :)