2008 Death Valley get together

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NVSteve
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2008 Death Valley get together

Postby NVSteve » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:25 pm

I figured it would keep things cleaner if I started a new thread for this.

Here's the scoop. I'm planning on driving down on Friday, March 21st. I'll most likely stay until Thursday or Friday of the next week (27th or 28th), but I'm still working on that part. It kind of depends on how many of my regular group goes & how long they stay. Since I have a backpacking trip the following month & a trip overseas sometime this year, I have to be really conservative with vacation days on this trip.

Since the time around Easter is the busiest time of year in Death Valley (tourists), the only problem I'll have the first night is trying to find a campsite. I've lost track of the number of times I've driven down, only to find everything completely full, which meant I had to sleep in the vehicle-usually in a parking lot. I will be camping out at the Texas Springs campground, which is very close to Furnace Creek. The lower portion of it is tents only, whereas the upper is for everything. I think it was about $18/night, but I never really pay attention to that & all the years sort of run together for me. Here's a little map for reference:

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They also have sites available at the Furnace Creek campground, but only if you don't mind generators rumbling throughout the night. You can also stay at the Furnace Creek Ranch (hotel) for about $170/night, or the nicer Furnace Creek Inn for over $300/night. Room availability will probably be close to nil at either place, so if you are a hotel kind of person, Beatty, Nevada, might be the only option. Here's a photo of the pool at the Furnace Creek Inn:

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Furnace Creek itself is a nice place to be at as a "home base." They have a post office, general store (way overpriced), a couple of places to eat and a gas station. This particular gas station happens to always have the most expensive gas you will find in the entire country, so fill up before you enter the National Park. What I have been doing for years, when the mood strikes, is to park near the general store and walk about 1 block to a big grassy area that has tennis courts, basketball, volleyball & a pool. I've generally had good luck sneaking into the pool to shower and swim, or I've been able to get one of the carded room keys from people I have met. In any case, you can pay a couple bucks at reception for a pool pass. They also have a nice NPS visitor's center in the area, with a small museum and theater that shows a film on DV.

The pool at Furnace Creek:

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Normally, when planning a trip, cell numbers are exchanged. In this case, let me just say that won't happen. I've had maybe 5 different cell providers since I started visiting Death Valley, and not 1 of them will work there. They have a pay phone at the general store, and that is the only means of communication that actually works. A few of my friends have been able to use their cell phones down there in the past, so you may be one of the lucky few. Mine will not work, so I'm not going to bother with it.

I've been there in the winter, when I was the only one in the campground aside from the coyotes, and I've been there in the middle of summer. Pulling in at about 1am and discovering it's still 123F is a bit disconcerting, to say the least. Spring is a bit different because it can be hot, warm or cold. Who knows what it will be like this year, but just prepare for heat during the day & cold at night (both of which are still only maybes). Since they only receive less than 2" of precip annually, I wouldn't worry about getting wet. About the only weather feature that is assured is the wind. If we're lucky, it will only be breezy.

Here are a couple of park maps:

http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/u ... VAmap1.pdf

http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/u ... oads-2.pdf

There are a number of dirt roads within a very short drive from Furnace Creek. A couple of them turn into really nasty roads, so those who want to be hardcore, can. What I normally do is just drive down one of the highways and pull off on one of the many dirt roads & just drive until I see something interesting, then pull off and take a hike. I always have my camera in tow, so I'm always looking for good photo ops. The long shadows and vibrant colors close to sunset really make the place come alive, so if you have even a passing interest in photography, be sure to bring a camera.

Badwater, a fairly short drive from Furnace Creek:

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Devils Golf Course, also on the way to Badwater:

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The Borax Works site, just around the bend from the visitor's center:

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There are many, many more places to visit within the park if you are there more than a day. Most of the places are very surreal and unlike anything you typically find elsewhere. Have a look at the park map & post any questions you have. I've been to every nook and cranny in the park, except for the Charcoal Kilns.

For those of you who are planning on coming out, please post your approx. arrival date & time. I know Carl said he wouldn't be able to make it out until the last weekend. While I won't be there, someone else might be, so let's get some feedback on this.


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rragpaoa
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Postby rragpaoa » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:55 pm

Thanks NV for the efforts to put this together.
I'll check the times with my wife and I'll get back to you. Most likely, I won't get there until the end of the week as well, but maybe before you leave.
I want to try some of the harder stuff, but that will depend if anyone else would like to come. I don't want to do some of the stuff alone.

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Postby guinnessjim » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:38 am

big thanks to NVS.

i dunno when i will be there (work schedule kinda up in the air right now) but i will be there for some of it. luv to try some of the harder stuff, but may not have myself fully rigged for it yet (e.g. will want to have underbody protection, maybe sliders also). and since i am torn between just getting it and looking at your guys stuff, then getting it, not sure if it'll be done by then or not.

but i will for sure have appropriate footwear by then, and have been digging the OME suspension so far so i will be up for something.

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Postby geoffstgermaine » Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:03 pm

I'm finalizing my trip plans now. I'll be in LV from either the 21st to the 28th or the 22nd to the 29th of March. We also have to finalize what we're doing on each day (6 people total are coming) as well as who will want to come out to DV. I'm up for some off-roading, but anything that requires skids will be out... I won't have them on by then. Heck, I might still be running the original tires, which won't help either, but I'm up for a meetup.

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Postby NVSteve » Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:34 am

Okay, my boss is an idiot. She failed to update our company wide vacation calendar, and the dates I had are conflicting with someone else. Looks like I'll be heading down on either the 24th or 25th, returning on the 30th. Still hashing out the details on my end, so I'll post again once I have 100% official confirmation on the dates.

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Postby RacerZX » Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:11 pm

Well, I think that may be a good thing NVSteve, since everybody seems to be leaning towards later in the week. My two kids and I (9 & 10 y.o.) are heading South on Tuesday the 25th, and driving back to Northern California on the 30th. I'm thinking we'll camp in Joshua Tree for the 26th and 27th, and then drive up to DV on the 28th, stay for the 29th, and then home for the 30th.

While I don't want to do any extreme boulder crawling, getting off the paved roads and exploring sounds like just the thing. A couple of the things on the top of my list would be Titus Canyon and the Eureka Dunes...

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Postby NVSteve » Mon Mar 03, 2008 2:26 pm

RacerZX wrote: While I don't want to do any extreme boulder crawling, getting off the paved roads and exploring sounds like just the thing. A couple of the things on the top of my list would be Titus Canyon and the Eureka Dunes...
Fine by me. Maybe Rhyolite & Titus, since they are so close to one another. I'm game for whatever.

I will be leaving on the 25th for sure now. I've cleared it up and worked out various work-related deals so that I can be there the 25th-30th (heading home on the 30th).

Here's an older (pre-digital) photo from one of the 3 or so years that had bad flooding. This is the dirt road on the west side of the main valley:

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Here's the lower portion of Texas Springs campground. Note that there is only shade at a couple of sites. This is the last place you want to be during the day because it is so hot:

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Late sunset from just above the same campground:

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I'm not much into the whole plant thing, but sometimes there are photo ops that provide more than your average flower shot. Every few years, when conditions are just right, pretty much all of Death Valley bursts to life with wildflowers. I normally could care less until I find something that contrasts starkly with the surroundings:

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If you don't mind lots of heat, intense sun & no cooling wind, then there are a bazillion little canyons worthy of a hike. This is the type of place I like to spend a lot of my time exploring:

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This place is right around the corner from Texas Springs campground. Nice little dirt road that goes from good to worse, eventually just stopping altogether. This is an interesting place we've always called the beehive because both rock faces on either side of the cut are strewn with little honeycomb type holes.

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Postby RacerZX » Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:19 pm

Bugger, pretty much everything in DV and Panamint Valley are booked up. I'm thinking of staying in Ridgecrest (China Lake)...

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Postby NVSteve » Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:51 pm

RacerZX wrote:Bugger, pretty much everything in DV and Panamint Valley are booked up. I'm thinking of staying in Ridgecrest (China Lake)...
Since you mentioned Titus Canyon, did you by any chance check Beatty? I'm assuming you are talking about motels?

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Postby RacerZX » Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:13 pm

Yeah, not really any motels of any size in Beatty. Personally I'd normally just wing it, but with the kids along I'd rather have reservations at a reasonably well established place.

Maybe we'll do Pahrump Friday night, meet you all at the Titus Canyon trail head Saturday morning, do that drive plus Rhyolite (sp?), maybe over to Racetrack and then over the mountain South down to Panamint? The restaurant at the Panamint Springs Resort would be reasonable for dinner if the timing works out. Eureka dunes would be fun, but that's a bunch more father north, unless y'all are particularly interested in those.

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Postby NVSteve » Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:02 pm

RacerZX wrote:Yeah, not really any motels of any size in Beatty. Personally I'd normally just wing it, but with the kids along I'd rather have reservations at a reasonably well established place.
I have no idea what it's called, but there is a very new motel/hotel on the north end of town in Beatty. Pretty large. I've been stopping there for the last few years and filling up before driving into DV. Just a thought. It is literally just a few miles from the Titus turnoff (maybe 15 miles?), and only about 10 miles to Rhyolite. Every town on the outskirts of every highway leading into DV is pretty much a dump.
Maybe we'll do Pahrump Friday night, meet you all at the Titus Canyon trail head Saturday morning, do that drive plus Rhyolite (sp?), maybe over to Racetrack and then over the mountain South down to Panamint? The restaurant at the Panamint Springs Resort would be reasonable for dinner if the timing works out. Eureka dunes would be fun, but that's a bunch more father north, unless y'all are particularly interested in those.
Fine by me. Although if you/everyone want to see Rhyolite, that'd have to be the first stop since Titus leads in the opposite direction. But yeah, I'm game for Saturday. Anyone else? And has anyone else finalized any plans on heading out for a day or so? If so, which days?

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Postby RacerZX » Wed Mar 05, 2008 8:17 pm

And I promise we'll make time for test drives of the Supercharger for everybody... :wink:

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Postby NVSteve » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:37 am

RacerZX wrote:And I promise we'll make time for test drives of the Supercharger for everybody... :wink:
I don't know if that would be a good thing or a bad thing :cry: I know I'd like it, but I'd also know I wouldn't cough up $4k for one. Having experienced how it performs would only make it worse, but who could refuse the offer?

As soon as the highway runs into the park near the Titus turnoff, there are a number of great dips in the road. That would be a great place for the supercharger. Not as dippy as the highway heading out of the valley toward 395 on the west side, but still a lot of fun. I usually gun it through both sections.
Last edited by NVSteve on Thu Mar 06, 2008 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby RacerZX » Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:37 pm

Ragpaoa? Geoffstgermaine? Guinnessjim? You guys been kinda quiet, don't let NVSteve and I plan everything out without your input if it's not going to work for you...

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Postby RacerZX » Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:36 pm

BTW, for whatever odd reason I have 3 copies of the Tom Harrison off-road map of Death Valley. You gentlemen are welcome to my spare copies if you like.


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