Malibu Beach to Death Valley
We don’t have the air conditioning running late in the evenings or during the night, and last night the vehicle seemed to have held the heat of the day, and it was really quite warm. After a period of sleep I awoke, checked the alarm clock and it was only 22:45. I eventually got back to sleep waking again at – 22:45 and so I checked the clock and found that the battery was flat. A similar clock at home runs forever on one battery but this one for just 6 weeks, so I replaced the battery, reset the time and went back to sleep. When the alarm clock went off at 06:00 I really didn’t feel like leaping out of bed having had a rough night.
I unloaded the folding bikes from the rear cargo hold, quickly and easily prepared them before we set off on our cycle ride at 07:30. It was a long, long, straight road with desert on either side. It seemed really hard work to pedal the bikes. We knew we had an obvious uphill stretch further ahead of us but this was downhill, we couldn’t even freewheel. I suggested that perhaps the tarmac was of a special type due to the intense heat and the surface causing additional friction. It wasn’t until we eventually gave up and turned round that we realised we had been peddling slightly uphill the whole time. A real trick of the light!!. We did though get R-E-S-P-E-C-T from the Harley bikers who approached us from the opposite direction; they probably felt wimps having seen what we’d ‘achieved’ on push bikes. They probably thought we’d been travelling for miles rather than about 4, having already chickened out and turned around.
As we neared the campground we pulled up. There was a steep gravel road 2½ miles long to our right going up to Mosaic Canyon which The Chef fancied taking a look at. I agreed we’d go up there but not cycling, firstly it would be very hard work and secondly there was a good chance of puncturing the tyres on the bikes. It was agreed we’d walk up, pushing the bikes which we would use to take the weight of our backpacks containing the water, and to get us back down the hill, quickly if necessary, especially if we ran out of water.
The walk/push was hard work; the sun was getting really hot. Couples and families driving up behind us, many in 4x4’s, could not believe their eyes as they passed us pushing our bikes uphill. When we finally reached the top we locked the cycles to a sign and made for some shade under the rocks. There we cooled down for a while, drank some more water and got our bearings before entering the canyon. We made a special point of being bright and chirpy to all those we met coming back out as they would have been the people who passed us in their cars coming up the steep hill.
We didn’t stay up there exploring for too long before it was playtime. We put our backpacks on, climbed on our bikes and came all the way down the hill freewheeling, picking our way between the loose gravel and bumps galore with our hands carefully controlling our speed with the brakes. Part way down I was ahead of Rosina and stopped to wait for her. When she caught up I remarked that she looked as if she was really having fun to which she replied “I do sometimes wonder if I’ll ever reach my next birthday” to which I replied “Good - that’s how life should be lived”. We then climbed back on to our bikes and hurtled down the hill. As we arrived at the bottom we had enough forward momentum to take us in to the campground and back to the RV without peddling.
After a period of cooling down thanks to both our air conditioning, switched on as soon as we opened the door, and some cold drinks, our thoughts reluctantly turned to chores including some hand washing. Most campgrounds don’t allow it, this one doesn’t mention it, and so I erected the clothes airier at the rear of the vehicle, out of sight of the reception office way over on the other side of the road, and made a start on the hand washing, drying them on the airier which took no time at all as the temperature was 115F. It was like putting them in a huge fan oven.
The Chef went for a spell by the pool whilst I caught up with some emails, typing, and more chores.
This evening we ate egg and bacon alfresco. I was hoping to sit outside by the gas-powered campfire after sunset but the wind as usual got up around that time and I gave up on the idea. Wind has been a real problem to us one way or another ever since we’ve been in California. Tomorrow we will leave it behind and re-enter Nevada as we make our way back to Las Vegas the cross-over point, and the second leg of our trip. We will miss the fantastic scenery of California, but not the winds.
We had several new neighbours arrive this evening, next to us we had a retired couple from Canada who are driving a 1998 class ‘A’ motorhome and are also new to RV’ing. They are stopping just the one night before setting off north for Reno then back home to Canada.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Stovepipe Wells Village campground, Death Valley, CA
Today we hiked across the desert to the sand dunes about 1½ miles away. We wore our sunhats, mine being a naff drovers hat on this occasion, took plenty of water and I carried an extended trekking pole with the rubber tip removed for personal protection. We didn’t expect to bump into anything nasty as the wildlife tends to keep out of the sun and hunt during the cooler nights; however there are sidewinder rattlesnakes, scorpions and black widow spiders here. Not surprisingly when we arrived at the sand dunes we had them all to ourselves, and so had a play on them like a couple of big kids as well as taking a few photographs.
On the way back we could really feel the sun on the back of our necks despite having plenty of sun-block on, hats on and shirt collars turned up. Nearing the end of the walk we startled a jack rabbit which leapt out from behind a bush and ran off, and that was all the wildlife we saw.
On our return we attempted to erect our cheap Wal-Mart gazebo so that we could sit outside in the shade relaxing in our reclining chairs. Once again it was a real problem. I’m sure it would be fine if it was erected on deep soft sand or grass, but it cannot be properly secured on hard surfaces as it relies on tent pegs and guy ropes for stability and so Whimpy-Gazebo was taken to the campground dumpster. The next time we’re at a Wal-Mart I’ll look to buy Super-Gazebo, big brother of Whimpy-Gazebo, rock hard, and costing twice as much, and if it doesn’t deliver the goods, will take up twice as much space in a dumpster.
After lunch The Chef made her way to the pool area with a good book whilst I went to find a payphone to speak with the RV people in Las Vegas in the hope they could undertake some warranty work for us on Monday at short notice. Fortunately they could, but we needed to be there at 07:30. This is a good way to save money as there’s no way we’re paying for a campground on Sunday night, only to have to leave it in the middle of the night to arrive at the RV dealer at that time of day.
I then joined Rosina at the poolside. There were a few Europeans there including Germans and a few French. I tired of being there after a while and so went back to the RV to play with my little radio controlled toy helicopter, purchased during our last visit to Las Vegas. It's for indoors use only but I was attempting to master flying it outdoors in a 3,000 square mile desert. Later in the day we noticed we were various items of shopping missing, we’d noticed a few items missing yesterday, but today there were more. Loud words were spoken before eventually concluding that they had never been loaded on to the RV. That the trolley, which kept blowing away in the strong winds at the Wal-Mart car park in Palm Springs, did in fact end up getting left, still part filled in the car park with each of us assuming that the other had finished emptying it and returned it. Rather embarrassing and annoying. That's old people for you!
After our evening meal, cooked in the slow cooker, we took the laptop over to the Guests Room and gained internet access. This was useful and we were able to send off photographs and text to family and friends. Tomorrow we have decided to take our folding cycles for a bike ride, starting off early before the sun gets too high in the sky.
LOCATION TONIGHT: Stovepipe Wells Village campground, Death Valley, CA (GPS: N36.607434 W117.146545)