January 5, 2007
We found out what the big mess on the highway at
January 6, 2007
Stopping at Bailey’s RV Park turned out to be a very good idea. Last night the wind was fierce, and the temperature was below freezing, so we didn’t even attempt to check out the hot spring, which would have involved a stroll up the hill and possibly being blown into the next county and found frozen to a Joshua tree. Instead, we sat in the motor home, rocking in the wind, playing Scrabble until it was time to sleep, by which time the wind had died down some.
This morning we went exploring. Although the temperature was still -2C, there was no wind, so we felt brave. We went to the park office, a faded orange and white Dodge Jamboree camper parked at the base of the hill at the back of the park. Someone has painted RV OFFICE in red along the top of the camper. In case you miss that, there is a cheerful red and yellow wooden sign planted in front of the vehicle. It also reads RV OFFICE, but with the word WELCOME below it in white on a blue background. Beside the camper is a small wooden bench, atop which sit three keys attached to numbered wooden blocks. The keys open the doors to three different mineral baths. There are also three rocks to weigh the keys down, lest they also end up pasted to a distant Joshua tree, so if you go looking for a key and it isn’t there, you know that that pool is in use. If it is there, and you take it, you can be assured that you will have that particular pool to yourself.
I had pictured the spring looking something like the original one at
At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I was sitting on top of a sand dune – but five hours earlier, we were already in Death Valley, more than 3000 feet below where we slept last night. We drove to Furnace Springs, where the Visitor Centre is, and where you pay your $20/vehicle admission fee (good for a week). We took the bicycles down from their rack for the first time on this trip, R cleaned them, and then we set off to explore. We visited Furnace Creek Ranch, which boasts a restaurant, saloon, golf course, stables, tennis courts, a post office, and a museum devoted to the history of mining in the valley. I decided I would like to send a post card to
Our next cycle ride took us to a campground that reminded us of the state park at
Half an hour later, I left R sitting on a dune with the camera while I clambered on ahead. The temperature had risen to about 16C. I wore jeans and a t-shirt, hiking shoes and my water bottle belt. A couple of dunes away, I sat down and began to write in my notebook. I had tears in my eyes, overwhelmed once again by this place. Writing that postcard earlier in the day, I had said that R and I both love being in the desert, that there is a wonderful silence about it, not just for the ears but for the eyes as well. Now, sitting quietly alone, I realized that this particular place isn’t really silent. There is a quiet hum, almost a sigh, here. I listened to the hum, I watched the play of light and shadow on the distant dunes and hills, and I wrote “I feel like a pilgrim.”
January 7, 2007
On the way home from
As I was leaving the shop, the proprietor – whose name is Ron, not Gus – asked me whether I had ever seen the mushroom on a $1 bill. Can’t say that I had. So he showed me. He folded the bill one way, then another, until the picture of George Washington was transformed into a picture of a mushroom. Very cool, I said. Had I ever see 9/11 on a $20? Rather apprehensively, I said no, I hadn’t. There ensued another flurry of folding that produced a semblance of the
When the time came for our visit to the spring last night, we went back to #1, but on the way home we stopped in for a look at #3. It turned out to be even better than #1. We estimate you could get thirty people in that pool if you wanted to do such a silly thing. There is no vestibule – you walk in the door and the pool is there, on your left. There are benches and hooks along the wall on your right. The water is a little cooler than in #1, like a warm bath. I was standing by the wall as R walked down the mesh stairs, fully clothed, to check out the water temperature. Suddenly he cried out “Ooh- that water is so clear, I walked right into it!” I’m afraid I laughed (Bad wife!). I apologized, but I laughed, just the same. Then we walked back home, one of us sloshing a little, and propped R’s right shoe up to dry.
We played cards, and the wind rocked the RV again. It was like being on a ship at sea. Fortunately, things calmed down again before bedtime.
Today we drove back to