Friday, February 17, 2017

Juicy Oranges

It is very nice to resemble a desert tortoise.  Self-contained in a relatively small shell of Q.  We'll travel 25-30 miles to the next camping spot that invites us to stop.  The roads are alternating rocky and bumpy with sandy - sometimes deep sand.  One night the camp is in a lava bed and we sleep well.  The next night is in an incredible Joshua Tree forest accessorized with granite boulders - and we sleep well.  Tonight we'll likely sleep very well in the high desert mountains that the Mojave includes.

Have fun stormin' the castle!

Our camp near Keystone Canyon induces terrific sleep though the moon's waxing does light up the night sky.  The extent of our physical work is a hike to explore a hill that has a couple of cuts, one horizontal as if it has been a road - and another vertical cut that just seems mysterious,

Can't explain the mystery, but the hike is fun.  The views from on top of the hill stretch across distant mountain ranges.  From the top we plot our route of return to Q.  It is a desert wash that is sure to be full of animal tracks.  We can see that it eventually crosses the road to Keystone Canyon.

From Keystone Canyon we plot our route into Death Valley.  Getting there includes a couple of stops to resupply food, water, and fuel.  
Quiggy re-supplied
Years ago we entered Death Valley through Titus Canyon and it remains our first choice.  Alas, we discover at the turn off near Beatty, NV, that the dirt road to Titus Canyon is closed.  It is a one-way road, so if we don't enter this way, we may miss the opportunity to drive the most beautiful backroad route into the park.

We camp on BLM land just off the closed road and enjoy the (coolish) desert air.  Alex does a mean bok choy and broccoli stir fry.  

By sunrise we decide against being scofflaws and enter the park by the east main road.  Our prize = seeing wild burros.
 And the entrance to the park, though not as stunningly beautiful as Titus Canyon, is still really awesome.

It is a little frustrating to find that the only place for info is the visitors' center at Furnace Creek - about an hour's drive round trip out of our way. But, the prize is meeting some very cool people in the process.  At the gas station, we meet Russell who has been coming to Death Valley for about 50 years.  He admires Quiggy and wishes that he could tag onto our plans for soaking in a hot spring that is accessible only by way of a rough mountainous rocky dirt road that may be under snow.  He is driving a Nissan Extera with a bumper chop on the front - and a bicycle on top.
The first person we meet at the Visitors' Center is National Park Ranger, Amy.  She gives us a number of recommendations for things to see in the park and places to camp - after she catches a glimpse of Q through the window.  No need to stick to the options of a paved road and official campground.  When we ask about the closed roads, such as our favorite Titus Canyon drive, she explains that the rain and snow fall have been heavier than usual - and mud is the reason for most of the closures.  The road to Scotty's Castle is out for a couple of years.  

Our inquiry about the drive to the hot springs brings a hand gesture.  It is directed towards National Park Ranger, Bob, who appears to be about twice Amy's age.

Ranger Bob's words very nearly echo Russell's.  "I wish i could meet you there!"  He doesn't care to drive the treacherous road, but he does sometimes get to fly in.  He says that the road isn't officially closed though it may be under 3-8 feet of snow.  He also admires Q, and asks Alex if we could have lifted Quiggy any higher.  It is clear that he means it as a joke, and laughs when Alex explains that if it was any higher, he would have to get on all fours so that I could climb up on his back to get into Q.

Ranger Bob kindly offers to take our avocado, apples, and bananas which are going to get bounced around and bruised on the road over South Pass.  The oranges will just get juicier.

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