Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Start of Our Death Valley Journey

I've been trying hard to get on line to start getting caught up on our travels of the past ten days or so... and find myself Running Against the Wind...

We finally moved out of the valley... Thinking we'd have signal to work with... and I do... NOT.

As fabulous as our new RV Boondocking camp is, I don't have a workable internet signal in that new camp either! but... there's a Mickey D's with free WiFi just down the road a short way, so I figured to be catching up with our journey over the next couple of days there... and I need to do that 'cause our new boondock camp is pretty danged awesome!

The only trouble with THAT scenario is the less than poor performance of their WiFi... so... I hooked up my air card down there, where there IS signal... at least it shows there to be... 4G and plenty of bars... that do... Nothing... grrrrrrr.... so... I sit here suckin' up their coffee waiting on the declining Verizon performance to get the job done...

It looks like a summer of internet struggles as I hunt for a workable alternative to Verizon Wireless...

and now on to the beginning of catching up! ...

When we pulled out of Cottonwood We used the Walmart in Kingman for our first night on the road. Let's just say that it's right up there with the Wally World resort over in Winslow for ambience ;) Remember that line in Crocodile Dundee? "You can eat it... but it tastes like shit!" Well, that same sentiment works in regards to some Wallydocking too! ;) But, what can I say? Kingman, Arizona isn't exactly known as a tourist mecca. ;)

We hauled west after some goooood Mickey D's coffee the next morning and headed for Beatty Nevada up Hwy 95. That's the spot I'd picked to access Death Valley National Park.

If you come this way... top off your tanks OUTSIDE THE PARK... Beatty, Pahrump where ever you can find it. Diesel in Beatty was $3.99. But less than 50 miles away... $5.98 at Panamint and $5.44 at Furnace Creek. Uh Huh... they figure they've got a captive audience so they're gonna squeeze ya for all your worth, so top off early and fill your larder too... there's no groceries to speak of in there, and what there is... well... you won't be able to gain weight at those prices...

$14.50 for a hamburger at Furnace Creek... damn thing must be good huh? ;)

anyhoo... Hwy 374 runs south and a touch west from there and drops over 4316' Daylight pass into Death Valley. Now that don't sound like much in the way of a high pass does it? But remember... you're droppin' into a hole.

Whoooooeeee! That's a brake BBQ'n ride! I'd guess you got 15 miles or so of steady, endless brake testing grade to descend into the lowest place in the country.

I vow... as quick as you get off your five second brake application to pull the RPM and road speed down... that 19 or 20 thousand pounds under and behind you shoves the needle on the tach right back to 2600 rpm. Considerin' that 2700 is just about the come apart speed for a Cummins in compression braking... it makes for a genuine butt wiggler of a decent! ;)

I could pick up the sweet smell of roasted asbestos on the desert breeze when we bottomed out.

We were aiming for the Campground at Stovepipe wells. I thought it might make the best place to ride out from for at least the first few days... and it worked well.

It's only drawback is the same as the rest of the place. For those of us that have to make a living ;) there is pretty much zero internet access in the valley. You'll have to go off line cold turkey! They have put in a tower at Furnace Creek that provides cell service... but for whatever reason I was still unable to hook up the air card when we moved there the fourth day.

We put the Raider on the ground that first afternoon and rode down past Furnace Creek through the 96+ degrees hoping to catch some good views of Artists Palette in the evening sun... Check out the video I put together of that ride and see if you think I did.

In the morning, expecting another sizzler that we sure aren't acclimated for yet... we struck out into the Mesquite Dunes that sit a mile or so east of the Stovepipe Wells Campground...

Something to remember about Death Valley; Mid day sun is difficult to photograph under anywhere... In this valley... it's dang near impossible... You'll do best to plan your day to start early in the a.m... hide out in the shade somewhere through the middle part of the day... and then go back out to do your viewing of sights and such, in the late afternoon and early evening...

You'll get better pictures and might could be avoid heat stroke too! ;) It did cool back into the low 80's and 70's later in the week so broiled brains was less of a danger.

So... since I took so many pictures... I thought maybe building them into a nice slide show would be the best way to present 'em...

Let me know what you think...

I'll be getting the rest of our sojourn in the Valley of Death caught up as soon as I can assemble all the pics... and find the place to get 'em uploaded to you!

Camped Now Under the Snowy Shoulders of Mt Whitney


klbexplores said...

I haven't been to Death Valley but intend to go. Your video shows so much more than sand dunes ordinarily associated with Death Valley. Great video.

C. J. Hall said...

Hello, I am enjoying poking around your site. I've only recently found the whole boondocking community. In reading about your wifi problems, I wondered if you are familiar with RVSUE? She has a special tab on her website menu bar for a detailed description of her relatively inexpensive antenna system to pull in a signal for her Verizon air card. From everything I read, Verizon is the best for mobile wifi, so if you can't get their signal there may be another problem. (I've used Verizon for cell phone for years and have found many, many times that I have a signal when others don't -- like at Sand Dunes NP.) Anyway, here is the link to the Internet antenna page for Sue's setup: http://rvsueandcrew.com/8014-2/

Best, Carla

Brian said...

Thanks KB; There's a lot more to Death Valley than it's reputation if you look for it.

C.J. ; the Problem is not signal but bandwidth. In death valley there's no signal, but near every other place we've been we've had usable, workable Verizon signal. three bars give or take of 3G and even 4G signal... but signal that DID NOTHING. It's like owning a top end Porche and living in L.A. You have a car that'll break 200 mph but you can't ever get it over 35 because the road is so corked up with other cars.

The providers are all touting (dishonestly) their system speeds but fail to tell all the device buyers that Real World speed in many many areas is going to be a fraction of that because they are concentrating on selling more devices and two year commitments rather than building the "Highway" to carry all the data plans they are selling.

The end result from everything I've been able to dig up is to expect declining or static at best service quality for the foreseeable future. surely 3 years or so... until they manage to catch their system up to the devices they've sold and will sell.

So... finding an alternative to Verizon that actually works is unlikely. They do have the widest coverage. They just have the widest coverage with the declining performance of everyone else in my experience.

Life in the West for a gypsy! ;)