Trip to Death Valley - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-26-2015, 09:05 PM   #1
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Trip to Death Valley

Whatís the lowest place on the continent? Answer: Badwater Basin, Death Valley, CA. 282 feet below sea level. Got a tee shirt that confirms it. January, towed the trailer to Death Valley National Park. High summer it is so hot there they close it down, and, do the same for much of southern Arizona. Then, just too hot. Donít exactly know why Death Valley landed on my bucket list. Iím not a passionate rock and rubble lover. OK, so the glaciers came, and then they left. Donít study rifts. Got over my horny toad infatuation in í52. No air conditioner. January seemed right. Also wanted to see Quartzsite, AZ, and, oh yes, another place I heard much about, Las Vegas. Yeah, Las Vegas. Everyone needs a little decadence in life, right? My bucket list for January was set.

For Nancy, not so much. She had visions of blinding January snowstorms on I-40. Blinding snowstorms? After revealing our route would take us to the warm south, down to Tucson and to Phoenix, where her three old friends had moved, she came around. We were westbound 12 January, packed with Bertolli dinners, water, a few beers, propane, ice chest, solar panels, DVDís, Gaviscon, and Ben. I did not de-winterize. No sink was deemed needed. Instead, kept 5 gallon jug of water on the floor of the necessary room. What joy, packed and pulling out of the driveway that morning, taking the scenic southern route from the Duke City to Death Valley.

Our first stop for the night was Sagebrush Mobil Home Park, 7 PM, off I-10, Willcox, AZ. Earlier had passed up a few suspiciously Purgatorial RV spots. Sagebrush was friendly, spotless, heated restrooms, coffee and TV in the lounge, $15 no hookups. This clearly a refuge for wintering old snowbirds and, though very far from Death Valley, an easy drive to Tombstone.

The next day, after visiting people in Tucson we found Tucson Mountain State Park, $20 with electricity, water. Beautiful place, where our spot was across the street from Ron of Ontario, whoíd been touring with his Escape 17 since November. The campground is called Gilbert Ray Campground and is south of Saguaro National Park (west). Highly recommend.

Finally, Quartzsite, AZ, 19 miles from California. The trailer-manís place to congregate, itís the BLM field of your bad dreams, a grizzled party plate for random, haphazard free-life camping. Quartzsite town has acres of tables filled with silly yard sale junk. Browsed until I spotted a rusty 10 inch cast iron fry pan, but for thirty bucks? All the concessionaires look like Gabby Hayes. The BLM acreage south of I-10 I thought is a great place to circle the wagons, light a big bonfire to keep the snakes away and hope the Calvary gets there soon. What do a hundred WalMart parking lots jammed together look like a hundred years after all life on the planet had ceased? No need to ask. See Quartzsite. On the other, north side of I-10 a few miles from the junk tables was the High Jolly 14 day BLM. It looked acceptable. You park anywhere. The price, free, was appropriate. Back in town had lunch at the funky Grubstake Restaurant with neighbor-back-home Charlie, who winters in the area. The fried clams and fish and chips were good. A couple hours later, so was the Gaviscon.

That cold night watched a 2 hr DVD movie in the trailer. Next morning inverter display showed 12.7 v. At Parker I pulled into a Pilot because something in my head said check the tires. Down to 30+ pounds. We had been averaging 13.5 mpg. Air cost me 8 quarters. Past Lake Havasu glimpsed a 21 passing us, later stopped at the Railroad Pass Casino for supper, won fifteen bucks. We overnighted there.

Charlie had said when in Las Vegas the Circus Circus casino had nice RV parking. Itís free with no hookups, but $50/night with full. Towing through this city for the first time can be a trial because you want to stop and park nearly everywhere but you canít. We drove in total awe towing the length of the Las Vegas main drag, then came back, gawked more, and parked at Circus Circus beside a Montana. Or was it the Bismarck? Dehitched, drove over to the casino garage and inside for lunch, wandered about, bought a Las Vegas Tee shirt, lost fifteen bucks, but did not stay. I simply must come back and see more here next time. Gassed up now, and on to Pahrump.

Best advice before final leg into Death Valley is top off the tank. On Belle Vista Avenue a few miles west of Pahrump it was $1.79. In mid-valley, gas at Furnace Creek Ranch was $3.41/gallon. I should mention every amenity at Furnace Creek Ranch is expensive. An unheated shower room is 5 bucks. By 4 PM the nice Furnace Creek Campground was already filled. Plenty of room for us across the street (at bare bones) Sunset Campground. $6/night with senior pass. Restrooms unheated, Spartan, clean.

Sunset was the perfect place to try out my 100 watt portable solar panel kit. Decided to slide the heavy panels up onto the trailer roof. Had to stand on the tongue frame. Outdoor 4x6í carpet with the rubber backing protected gel coat, made the push less difficult. Solar panels worked just fine despite not much sunshine. Must say I enjoyed touring up and down the valley, taking washboard roads to hidden canyons and driving 4-wheel-drive-only places. On one I noticed the car 400 yards behind me beeping and flashing so I stopped. My tailgate hadnít been securely shut and the ice chest flew out, got laid open in the road. Lesson learned. After that, locking tailgate shut every time.

Total trip miles, 2,394. Towing, 2,177 miles. Base towing average, 13.9 mpg. Stopped for gas eight times. I used cruise control constantly, towing usually at 61-64 mph. Coming home to New Mexico on I-40, the northern route, yes, thatís right, we got hit with a blinding snowstorm.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:03 PM   #2
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Nice tip. Did you get to Rhyolite outside DV and near Beatty? Rhyolite is where I did something last February, fell badly breaking my arm. Had surgery and got a rod and screws. Learned not to do things that would be a bad idea for an old f**t.
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Old 01-27-2015, 06:51 PM   #3
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Heard that. Much regret not going past Scotty's Castle.
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Old 01-27-2015, 07:33 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Myron Leski View Post

Finally, Quartzsite, AZ, 19 miles from California. The trailer-man’s place to congregate, it’s the BLM field of your bad dreams, a grizzled party plate for random, haphazard free-life camping. Quartzsite town has acres of tables filled with silly yard sale junk. Browsed until I spotted a rusty 10 inch cast iron fry pan, but for thirty bucks? All the concessionaires look like Gabby Hayes. The BLM acreage south of I-10 I thought is a great place to circle the wagons, light a big bonfire to keep the snakes away and hope the Calvary gets there soon. What do a hundred WalMart parking lots jammed together look like a hundred years after all life on the planet had ceased? No need to ask. See Quartzsite.
Myron, Great Trip Report! Loved the description of Quartzsite. Sums it up nicely

Isn't the price of a shower in Death Valley crazy! Surprised you paid it. I stayed at Sunset last trip as well and just used the water thief on my extended hose to get water from the washing station to refill my water tank so I could shower in the trailer.

Cruising the strip while pulling a fiberglass trailer is indeed an experience. How was your night at Circus Circus casino? have considered staying there but jammed out and stayed just outside of town and took a free shuttle into town that the park I stayed at offered. Wished afterwards I had stayed downtown instead.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:02 PM   #5
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Only used Circus Circus' RV lot to park for the few hours we spent in town. We only had time enough for a first taste. From brief chat with our big bus neighbor the place seemed quite well managed, secure, etc. The $50 tab includes sewer connections no doubt primarily to keep them big RV's happy. Nothing available in between that and free with no hookups, for us smaller fish. Hope to eventually find out about other trailer parking off the strip, must admit I was a tad intimidated and overwhelmed. Our schedule just didn't permit time enough to truly understand the lay of the land.

You know, I never even thought to shower in my trailer, and was certainly not expecting the Furnace price. Too late, they also even made me sign some kind of disclaimer. It was 7AM, probably 46 degrees F outside, the building miserably unheated. Well, it is Death Valley, after all, the hottest place in North America.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:28 PM   #6
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I stayed at Sam's Town RV Park and Casino. It was definitely set up for the BIG guys. It was about 6 miles from the Strip but they had a free shuttle bus to the strip that went every hour. Downside was the last free shuttle from the strip left at I think about 10PM so if you went to a night show you needed to take public bus back to Sam's Club. Did that one night wasn't bad - it was just one direct bus.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:58 PM   #7
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Nice story Myron and your thoughts of towing thru LV brought back one trip we did there. On a trip in '95 we stayed one night at an RV park. I was towing my Manx dune buggy so we hopped in it to cruise the strip. Sure got a lot of looks from folks, guess they had no idea of what it was. On the plus side, the road had so many chuckholes I had the perfect car for it.
Quartzsite is a zoo, I don't go there anymore for the big show. The FG rally there in Feb is perfect and still has enough vendors to find a few goodies.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:10 PM   #8
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The Sam's Town RV park was sold to KOA who used to be at Circus circus. I heard Circus Circus wanted the property to expand.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:22 PM   #9
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2 years ago,we did the trip to Bad Water, and Death Valley in August! 129 degrees! It was awful, but there was a rather unusual heat wave in the area. Yes,mwe looked way up in the mountain to see the sea level sign way up there! A trip to remember for sure.
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:32 PM   #10
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ID:	80000We were there last year in February. Rhyolite and Titus Canyon were the highlights of the trip. Titus Canyon was similar to the trip we took thru Long Canyon at the Moab rally last year.
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Old 01-28-2015, 05:28 PM   #11
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J-a-c-k --that guy in the pink sweatshirt looks familiar. You heard anything about Moab for 2015?
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Old 01-29-2015, 11:50 AM   #12
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J-a-c-k --that guy in the pink sweatshirt looks familiar. You heard anything about Moab for 2015?
Hi Myron; I thought you might recognize that guy from Long Canyon. I have not heard of any Moab plans but I have not been monitoring the forum as much as I would have liked. I sure would like to see a rally or just an informal get together in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico or Colorado. I am hoping to head to Quartzite for the rally Feb 7 but it's not looking good for that to happen.

I've had some family priorities lately and have not used the trailer in a while. Hopefully I'll get back on the road soon. I get new tires for the trailer today.
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Old 01-29-2015, 04:10 PM   #13
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If someone wants to put something together for the Four Corners states I'll pitch in and help.
Kind of busy right now getting ready to put my house on the market. Tired of just seeing my camper sitting. I'm just about ready for the road again.
Patti
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Old 01-30-2015, 01:29 PM   #14
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Cool Through Death Valley

Last year, we drove through DV. 190 west to the Sierra Nevada was interesting. If you weren't going up, you were going down on winding, two lane roads.

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You can see the sea level sign on the side of the mountain, and Homelet in the parking lot. A fabulous place, however no longer the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. They found a place in Argentina that is quite a bit lower.
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