Friday 20th – Saturday 21st May 2011

After a good night’s sleep we headed for Barker Dam and a two mile round trip walk to find the old dam still holding water and producing a great oasis for animals and birds. It was constructed by a rich Rancher to provide water for the cattle and their mining operations, a case of those that controlled the water had the power. The walk continued past the dam and we found ancient Indian paintings on the walls of a cave. Back to the car park for a sit and a cup of coffee before setting of on another 2.5 mile round trip walk to see the ruins of an old Ore Crushing Plant. On the way we found an old house now derelict and an abandoned old pick-up motor vehicle, which because of the dryness only had surface rust but was still structurally sound. A little further on we came across the wind driven water pump which was presumably for the house. We finally came across the Ore Crushing machinery which was apparently in use until 1966. Most of the machinery was basically intact and you could see the precarious working conditions, especially in the heat of the Mojabe desert. We slowly drove through the rest of the park stopping to read many of the roadside information boards then set our target for the nights camping at the Mojabe reserve another park but not a National Park. The three hour drive took us along a beautifully straight stretch of the old “Route 66” from Amoy to Essex unfortunately we missed our turning and ended up on a dirt road so had to backtrack a little. We found the “Hole-in-the-wall” camp ground at about 6pm and again posted our Camping Money into the safe. This time it was $12 but they had water and dumping facilities which we used before leaving the next morning. The visitor centre a short walk away was not open in the morning but some guys we met said the dirt road we intended to use was smooth and no trouble to use, the map said it was ok for two wheel vehicles so we took it, it was about twenty miles which would save us about 50 miles back tracking. It might have been ok in a car but it was what they call a “wash board” surface and shook our RV to pieces or it sounded like it and were down to 5 or 10 mph but it was beautiful scenery and worth the shaking but took 1-1/2 hours. We finally hit proper road so continued on to Kelso which was just a railway stop which had become important during the second world war but was now just a visitor centre.

We were heading for “Death Valley NP” so filled up with Petrol at Baker the last fuel stop before the park. We took the South to North route via Shoshone which was stunning with a seven mile continuous hill taking us from about 1200ft down to 200ft below sea level. We stopped at Badwater which is the lowest point about 282ft below sea level where we stopped and along with about 500 other people walked out about half a mile onto the salt lake. Which actually was a damp salt surface but not a lake. Amazing though, as it was about 106 degF Back to the air conditioned cab for the rest of the drive to our camp for the night at “Furnace Creek” stopping to walk into our first canyon “Golden Canyon” on the way. We had a nice evening sitting out listening to the wildlife all around. We took a walk to the visitor centre to talk about where else we could go but they were advising against hiking as it was getting too hot for safety and were actually closing some of the back country roads. So we decided to leave the park and head for Las Vegas where we are sending this from but that’s for next time …………….

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