Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rose Bowl Dreams

First of all, I’ve been remiss in not welcoming my new readers and followers.  I’m always tickled pink when someone signs on as a follower.  I never thought anyone other than family and friends would be reading my blog.

We’ve been pretty laid back since we returned from Vegas.  Kevin has been watching all the Thanksgiving weekend football. 

The Wisconsin Badgers won their last game of the season yesterday and are tied for the lead in the Big 10.  There is a good chance they will be chosen to play in the Rose Bowl this year in Pasadena.  It just so happens we’ll be about 100 miles from Pasadena.

I checked out ticket prices on Stub Hub just in case.  Wow!  The cheapest nose bleed seats were $265 and the best seats were over $1,400.  That’s too rich for our blood.  It sure would be exciting to go, though.  We’ll have to see if prices come down.  That’s probably wishful thinking.

It’s been pretty cold the last few days.  It got down to 21 degrees the other night.  Kevin disconnected the hose to avoid freezing.  And the wind is back.  I can’t wait until Wednesday to get out of here.  It was a very nice place to stay, but the wind was a deal breaker for me.  I doubt we’ll be back.

Hoar Frost 1 Jan 17, 2010

I’m not complaining about the cold, however.  This picture is from our yard in Wisconsin after any icy rain in January. 

I haven’t even been outside since Friday.  While in Vegas, I managed to get blisters on the bottom of both of my little toes.  I have weird feet, and it’s not the first time this has happened.  I was wearing my Avia tennis shoes which have been the best shoes for my feet for years. 

Last year I bought their Avi-motion exercise shoes which are equivalent to Sketcher’s Shape-ups.  I didn’t really believe the advertising saying that you will lose weight by using these shoes, but I wanted to try them out.  I must say they are the most comfortable walking shoes I have ever had.  My feet and back don’t hurt! Your center of balance does change a bit, so they take some getting used to. 

That pair are getting a bit worn so I took my regular tennis shoes to Vegas.  That was a big mistake considering all the walking we did.  I’m definitely sold on the Avi-motion shoes and will be buying another pair when we get back to civilization. 

So, that’s about it around here.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  This has been a year of many changes for us, and we are so thankful we were able to begin living our fulltime RVing dream.  We’re also so thankful for the love and support of our family and friends.

We spent the day yesterday wandering up and down the Vegas Strip exploring many of the hotels and casinos.  We had dinner at Flavors Buffet in Harrah’s.  I enjoyed the shrimp, crab legs and desserts.  We don’t eat at buffets often because I always feel too stuffed by the time I’m done.  This time was no exception.  There is just so much food to try.

We attended the Terry Fator show at the Mirage.  I was blown away by his talent.  It really was a great show.  He allows the audience to take pictures and even record some of the show.  He’s an amazing ventriloquist, but he is also a very good singer and comedian.

Las Vegas Terry Fator and Winston

After the show we went to some of the outdoor evening shows.  The winds had died down from the day before so we saw two showings of the fountains at the Bellagio.  This is my favorite thing to do in Vegas. 

Las Vegas Bellagio Fountains 13

Las Vegas Mirage VolcanoWe saw the volcano erupt at the Mirage.








Las Vegas Treasure Island Pirate ShowAnd we watched the Sirens battle the Pirates at Treasure Island.







We did a little gambling, but unfortunately weren’t winners.  At least the drinks were free. 

This was our third visit to Vegas, 1996, 2005 and 2010.   It is no longer the cheap vacation spot it used to be.  Our room at the Imperial Palace was very nice and a bargain at $25 a night.  Other than that, everything else has gotten rather pricey.

Food and shows are no longer inexpensive.  I remember the first time we went with friends, we walked up and down the Strip getting freebies or deals at every casino.  We had 99 cent margaritas and shrimp cocktails.  Each casino gave away trinkets like coffee mugs, cards or dice.  And we even saw a free show.

Now, the only freebies are if you go to a time share presentation.  Each casino has their player’s club, but it’s a pain to sign up for them.  The best one we found was $5 in free slot play if you signed up; hardly worth the effort.

I don’t think we’ll be going back anytime soon, if ever.  It’s one of those places that is amazing the first time you see it, but not that much has changed. 

Today we drove back home.  On the way we stopped at Wal-Mart in Pahrump and stocked up on some groceries for our last week in Amargosa Valley.  I’m really tired.  I’m not used to late nights anymore.  Time for bed!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Full Service Gas Station

P1010105There was another beautiful sunrise yesterday morning with the full moon over the mountains.  I never tire of these moments.



Remember the days when you went to gas up and there would be an attendant that would fill your tank, wash your windows and check your oil?  You wouldn’t even have to get out of the car.

We stopped at a gas station yesterday in Nevada that had a different kind of full service idea. 


On the left there’s a red light on the roof, a red light above the door, a red door, an intercom to get buzzed in, it’s open 24 hours, and it’s called Cherry Patch Ranch.  I think you can guess the services provided.  Next to there is the Brothel Museum, and then the door on the far right is label Trucker Showers.  Seems they’ve pretty much got all the bases covered.  We’ve seen some really unusual places in our travels so far.

We arrived in Vegas around noon and met Janie and John who write the blog Flamingo on a Stick at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Restaurant in the Flamingo Hotel and Casino.  We had a very enjoyable time with them.  It was so nice to meet them.  We discovered we have a lot in common.  What great people.  I had planned on taking a picture, but we did so much chatting that I completely forgot about the picture.

I ordered the Cheeseburger in Paradise.  It came with fries and a pickle.  I wasn’t all that impressed.  The food was OK, but a bit expensive.  The margarita was good, though :)

We spent the rest of the day and evening wandering up and down the Strip.  We’ve been to Vegas before, but there’s always something new to see.  And the people watching can’t be beat.  We spotted two Elvis’s, one Marilyn Monroe, one Star Wars Storm Trooper, and a few people who were dressed up as something that defies description.  What were they thinking!

My favorite thing to see in Vegas is the fountains at the Bellagio.  I could watch this show over and over and over again.  It was very windy so the evening shows were cancelled.  We did catch a daytime show. 



A new hotel called The Cosmopolitan will open on December 15th.  It looks quite fancy.  Next to it were these two buildings.  Don’t they look like they could fall over any minute.  Very interesting architecture.


The large silver building in the front is a Prada store.  There are so many designer shops in Vegas.  Who shops at all of these places?  Obviously, there are still people with money to burn.  Our big purchases were some candy at the M & M’s store and dollar margaritas.  I love a good deal :)

Kevin spent a few hours in the casino after I went to bed.  He’s not up yet, but he didn’t wake me when he got back to tell me we’re rich, so I’m thinking he didn’t win big.  Maybe tonight :)

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blue Moon

I saw on the news that the full moon last night was called a Blue Moon.  There seems to be some confusion about what that means. 

After doing a little online research, I discovered that some say a blue moon is the second full moon in the same month.  That wouldn’t be the case this time as it’s not near the end of the month.  Others say it is the fourth full moon in a season, which doesn’t happen very often.  This full moon is the fourth in the fall season this year.

Amargosa Valley Full Moon Whatever the explanation is, it sure is beautiful.  I took this picture just after sunrise this morning. 





Thank goodness the winds finally died down last night.  We were able to go back to our normal sleeping arrangements, and I got a good night’s sleep :)

The weather across the country sure has been strange the last few days.  The strong winds the west has been experiencing are very unusual.  Utah has blizzard warnings posted for tomorrow.  The weatherman said Utah rarely has blizzards, and they’re freaking out about it.  Wisconsin had two tornadoes today.  That’s almost unheard of for November.

Tomorrow we’re headed for Vegas for a few days.  Five years ago when Kevin turned 50 and our son, Korey, turned 21, we took both boys to Vegas.  In a few weeks Kevin will have his 55th birthday so we thought that warranted another Vegas visit.

We’re meeting blogger friends, Janie and John for lunch tomorrow.  We’ve never met in person, but have found we have much in common through our blogs.  I’m looking forward to getting to know them better.

I leave you with two sunset pictures from a few nights ago.  I love how the colors are so different.  Both pictures were taken at the same time, just a different part of the sky.

Amargosa Valley Sunset 4

Amargosa Valley Sunset 5

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Unusual Bed

I’ve mentioned before how much I dislike wind.  Well, it’s been very windy since Friday morning.  Sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts over 40.  There have been a string of huge storms all over the southwest.  All least we’re not getting hammered with snow like other places.  We haven’t even had rain, just wind, wind, wind!

The wind is just so noisy.  The slide toppers make noise, but it’s more than that; all kinds of noises, flapping, creaking, howling, etc.  I knew sleeping was going to be a problem Friday night.  I took 1/2 of a Tylenol PM which is normally all I need, and I put in the earplugs.  I slept for 3 hours and that was the end of it.  Spent the rest of the night watching late night TV game shows.

It was still howling last night, and I was dreading another night without sleep.  When desperate, you can come up with some out of the box ideas :)

We have an Aerobed for when the kids visit.  I pulled in the bedroom slide and squeezed the air mattress between the bed and the shower.  There was just enough room.  I also pulled in the kitchen slide which is next to the bedroom and that also helped cut out some noise.  I ran a little electric heater in the bedroom which created some white noise.  This time I took a whole Tylenol PM and put in the earplugs.  Success!!!  I slept a solid 8 hours.

Poor Kevin ended up sleeping on the couch.  The noise doesn’t really bother him, and he can sleep just about anywhere.  He said it was fine.  What a great guy to put up with my craziness!

When we bought this trailer, we had never heard of a bed lifting up when you pull in the bedroom slide.  We didn’t find out about it until after we had purchased it and spent the night on the dealer’s lot.  When I pushed the button to pull in the bedroom slide, I was sure surprised to see the bed lift up.  That way it doesn’t hit the dresser across from it. 

I highly, highly doubt our next one will require the slide to be out in order to sleep in the bed.  It also concerns me when we spend a night at a Flying J or Wal-Mart.  We’ve done it a few times and never had a problem, but I’d rather not have to slide it out.

The good news is the wind is supposed to die down tonight or tomorrow for sure.  So I may be sleeping in my alternate bed for one more night.

I’m not complaining, though.  This still beats the alternative!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How Low Can You Go

On Wednesday we spent another day at Death Valley.  We started out by driving up to Dante’s Peak which is a mile above sea level.  There was a fantastic view of most of the valley and the salt flats.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Dante's Peak

Then we headed down to Badwater Basin which is 282 feet below sea level.  It’s the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Badwater Basin Kev & Ev

Death Valley Nat'l Park Badwater Basin Sea Level Sign Look carefully and you can see a little blue sign on the upper left side of the picture that says sea level.





We took a walk out onto the salt flats.  They cover an area of nearly 200 square miles.  The salt is washed down from the surrounding mountains.  Since there is no outlet to the sea, the salt just accumulates in this valley.  It’s a mind-boggling thing to see.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Badwater Basin Salt Flats 2

Nothing grows in this salty soil.  You would think there is no water, but there is Badwater Pool.  It’s fed by an underground aquifer and has very salty water year round.  It is home to the Badwater Snail which only exists in a few springs on the edges of the Death Valley salt flats.  And, with just this little bit of water, there are pickleweed plants growing next to the water.  I am so surprised that any life can exist out here.  We did encounter some flies out there.  They’re everywhere!  I’m starting to despise them even more than mosquitoes.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Badwater Pool

We hiked 2.5 miles along Golden Canyon.  At the end of the canyon is this large wall called Red Cathedral.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Golden Canyon Red Cathedral 2

Death Valley Nat'l Park Golden Canyon Rocks with Salt All along the trail the rocks had crusty salt deposits on them.


We hiked along Natural Bridge Canyon to see, you guessed it, a natural bridge.  You can see the size of it by looking for the two tiny people below it.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Natural Bridge

Death Valley Nat'l Park Artist's Drive 1At the end of the day, just prior to sunset, we drove along the nine mile road called Artist’s Drive.  We have seen so many rocks over the last two months, but I am still fascinated by the natural beauty.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Artist's Drive 4

We’ve found a nice dirt road behind the casino, so the days we don’t go anywhere, we’ve been walking an hour or more for exercise.  I am so appreciating the great weather. 

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


We haven’t been doing anything too exciting the last few days.  Sunday was football and laundry day.  Kevin’s been cleaning the outside of the trailer the last few days.  We haven’t washed it since we left Wisconsin, and it was dirty from traveling; bugs and dust all over. 

Most campgrounds don’t let you wash your trailers so we weren’t sure how it could be done.  We met a man in Utah who was cleaning his trailer using auto detailing spray.  He just sprayed it on and wiped it off, no rinsing needed. He told us he got it at Wal-Mart.

We checked it out, but it was rather pricey to buy enough to do the whole trailer.  Kevin had a bottle of 409, so he decided to try that.  It has worked great.  He did wash the awning using the hose.  The campground here doesn’t have any rules posted about washing, but we didn’t want to overdo the water usage.


Here’s our clean trailer with the moon above it.  Next week the truck gets some cleaning attention.





The weather has been in the 70s every day.  We’ve been taking a walk each day for 1 to 1.5 hours.  It’s so nice.  Nighttime temps are in the 40s.  Our electric heater takes care of that.

I wiped down all the woodwork inside with Orange-Glo wood cleaner.  It’s all nice and shiny now.  I’ve also been doing some quilting. 

Today my sewing machine was acting up.  Suddenly the tension wasn’t right.  I tried all kinds of fixes, but nothing worked.  Finally, I went online to see what it could be.  One recommendation was cleaning the bobbin area.  I had cleaned it out with the little brush, but I didn’t realize there was another layer of parts to take out.  Wow was it dirty down there.  It’s working like a champ again.

Tomorrow we plan to spend one more day at Death Valley National Park.  Next week we’re going to Vegas for three days.  We got a room at the Imperial Palace right on the strip for only $25 a night.  We’re leaving the trailer here and treating ourselves to a hotel room.  We could camp, but I’m not much of a gambler.  With a room, Kevin can enjoy the casino, and I can go to bed.

I reserved tickets for the Terry Fator show.  He was the first winner of America’s Got Talent.  I’ve wanted to see him ever since he won.  Several websites say his show is in the top 10 things to do in Vegas.  I’m excited to see it.

I’ll leave you with another beautiful sunset tonight.


Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wagons Ho!

The 61st annual Death Valley 49ers Encampment was held this week at the national park.  This organization holds the annual event to celebrate the spirit of the 1849 gold rush wagon trains that crossed Death Valley. The five day event includes western-style music, an Invitational Western Art Show, craft shows, cowboy poetry, golf and horseshoe tournaments, a pioneer costume contest, 4X4 tours, wagon train and horse parades, community breakfasts and more.

Yesterday was the wagon train parade so we planned our second day at the park to coincide with the parade.  It was an interesting site to see.  I started thinking about what it must have been like for the actual pioneers traveling through this desert.  I’m definitely happy to be a 21st century “pioneer” with my modern “covered wagon”.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Wagon Train

Death Valley Nat'l Park Wagon Train 3

Death Valley is the hottest, driest and lowest area in the United States.  Yet, surprisingly there is a creek that flows through part of it.  It’s called Salt Creek and begins at a brackish spring and marsh.  During the heat of the summer, it is mostly dried up except for a small pool at the spring.  Even with the heat, the salt and the evaporation, there is a species of pupfish (The Salt Creek Pupfish) that live only here.  Nature keeps amazing me.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Salt Creek

There are a few other spots in Death Valley that have springs creating an oasis.  The main such area is called Furnace Creek with an inn, a few campgrounds, a visitor center and even a golf course.  The springs gush a million gallons of water per day.  That’s enough to provide water for the resort and to allow irrigation of the lowest golf course on earth!  Greens fees for 18 holes with a cart are $67.50.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Golf Course 

Death Valley Nat'l Park Date Palm Trees There are a lot of palm trees around the resort.  As we were walking beneath them, we discovered they were date trees.  The ground was covered with dates.  I never really thought about where dates come from.  Now I know.


In 2008 Xanterra, the private company that owns Furnace Creek Resort, installed a solar powered energy system.  The one megawatt system covers an area larger than five football fields.  It was installed in the middle of an existing developed area and is screened by vegetation. The solar plant is expected to generate more than one-third of the total annual electricity needs of Furnace Creek Resort by producing more than two million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. That's enough to power more than 400 average-sized American homes.  The picture is from the back of the panels.  They pivot during the day to follow the sun.  I would love to see other companies follow suit and use more solar and wind power!

Death Valley Nat'l Park Solar Panels 

Death Valley Nat'l Park Sand DunesWhen I pictured a desert, I always thought it looked like the Sahara Desert with miles and miles of sand dunes.  That’s not the case at all in Death Valley.  I certainly never expected to see mountains, but the valley is surrounded by them.  Most of the landscape looks like dirt and gravel with a few sand dunes scattered throughout the valley.

There are a few areas referred to as Badlands formed by erosion with many layers of colors.  We’ve been to the Badlands in North and South Dakota.  I wasn’t expecting to see more in Death Valley.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Zabriskie Point 2 

Death Valley Nat'l Park Mosaic Canyon MarbleWe drove along a very bumpy dirt road to get to the Mosaic Canyon trailhead.  Some of the canyon walls are polished marble.  Everywhere we go, we find new surprises.


Our final stop of the day was at the site of the former Harmony Borax Works.  Prospector’s came to Death Valley looking for gold and silver of which they found very little.  They did, however, strike it rich with borax.  The borax was processed on site in Death Valley and then transported through the desert by 20 mule team wagon trains to the railroad over 100 miles away.

Death Valley Nat'l Park Borax Ruins 1

This is part of the processing site.




Death Valley Nat'l Park Borax Ruins 2

Here is an original wagon train.  Each wagon train carried a water tank for the long trek through the desert.

Death Valley Nat'l Park 20 Mule Team Sign This interpretive sign shows one of the 20 mule team wagon trains.  I so remember the commercials for 20 Mule Team Borax when I was a kid :)

We plan to go back to Death Valley for one more day.  There is so much to see!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holstein Cows in the Desert?

Being from Wisconsin, we are very used to seeing Holstein cows.  We did not, however, expect to see them in the Mojave Desert in Nevada.

Longstreet Casino Cow

This huge cow stands guard in front of the casino and RV park.  In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s not real.  But don’t worry, there is a very large living Holstein steer here as well.


His name is Herman.  He stands 6’4” tall and weighs 2,800 pounds.  I asked the clerk in the lobby why there are cows out here in the desert.  She said it was a gimmick the owners came up with to get people to stop; something to make the place unique.  I’d say it is definitely a unique feature.  Herman has some friends that live with him.  These two donkeys are full grown so you can see just how big Herman really is.


There’s also a goat and the pond behind the casino is home to several ducks.  I get a kick out of hearing the donkeys braying and the ducks quacking.  It almost feels like being on a farm in Wisconsin, but the weather is much nicer.

There’s something else that seems very unusual about this area.  Other than the casino, there is not much else around here for miles and miles.  There are some mobile homes here and there, but that’s it.  The casino has a little mini-mart.  Otherwise, the closest full-size grocery store is 35 miles away.  The closest gas station is 16 miles away.  The entrance to Death Valley is 8 miles away, but then there are hundreds of miles of roads inside the park.  It’s the largest National Park in the lower 48.

But, I digress.  The other thing I find to be very strange is that there are miles of power poles that seem to go nowhere.  There are dirt roads out in the desert that seem to go nowhere.  We’ve been taking walks along such a road behind the casino.  For miles all along the road there are water pumping stations.  I have no idea where the water is being pumped to.  There’s nothing out there.


I took this picture today while we took our walk on the road behind the casino.  You can see the dirt road along the left side.  The casino is about 2 miles back down the road.  If you look very carefully, you can see the buildings in the center of the picture.  The mountains are much further away.  Do you see the snow on top of the one on the right?  There is just a little snow on that one mountain.  Spaced all along this road are water pumps.  If you look in the other direction, the road keeps going.  We’re not sure how far it goes, but eventually there are mountains that are part of Death Valley.  That’s it.  There’s nothing else out there.   Strange!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Revisited

On Tuesday we went back to Ash Meadows to check out some more springs.  The first time we went it was quite hot out, and we didn’t feel like walking on all three of the boardwalks that lead to springs so we only did one.

This week the weather is cooler so we went back for another look.  The refuge is home to several endangered species of pupfish found only here. 

We walked along a very nice boardwalk to King’s Pool to see the Ash Meadows Amargosa pupfish.  They are only about an inch long.  The males are bright blue, and the females are green.



It’s just the strangest thing.  You’re driving through the desert, and suddenly there’s one of these springs.  Here’s what the landscape looks like.


The refuge is called Ash Meadows because Leather Leaf Ash trees used to be prominent trees here along with Mesquite.  Most trees had been cut down for farming and ranching.  The refuge has been replanting them.  The ash trees are pretty in their fall color.


The refuge is about 20 miles from Death Valley National Park.  For some strange reason there is a small section of the refuge that’s actually part of Death Valley.  The area is called Devil’s Hole.  When we got to it, there was a gate across the road with a sign saying it could only be accessed on foot.  The path was short, and when we got up there we were quite surprised by what we found.  There’s a hole in the ground filled with water that looks like part of a cavern.  There is a fence around the entire area with razor wire on the other side of the fence.  They really don’t want anyone going down into that water.


After reading through the information, I discovered that Devil’s Hole is home to the endangered Devil’s Hole Pupfish which are estimated to have been in existence for 10 to 20,000 years.  There are only a few hundred left, and they are only found here.  There is  a great deal of research being done at this site to try and save these fish.  It’s really quite interesting.

One of the boardwalks leads to the Longfellow Spring.  The spring is named after Jack Longfellow and his cabin has been reconstructed at its original location next to the spring. Jack came to the area in the late 1800s and became infamous as a prospector, gunman, gambler and horse breeder.  It sounds like he was quite a character.  The casino we are staying at is named Longstreet Casino.


One of the things I really like about this lifestyle is the ability to discover places we would never have had time for in our old life.  The Ash Meadows Refuge is definitely one of those places.  We are truly out in the middle of nowhere, yet here’s this amazing place. 

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wind, Wind and More Wind!

We’ve had the most beautiful weather this fall, but the last two days have not been very nice.  Wind bothers me more than any other kind of bad weather.  I’ll take cold, cloudy or rainy any day over high winds.  Of course warm and sunny is my favorite :)

Since Saturday night it has been super windy.  The slide toppers are noisy when it’s this windy.  The wind itself is noisy.  The trailer shakes a little bit.  The worst part is I can’t sleep with the wind noises.  Last night I pulled in the big slide and slept on the couch.  Or I should say I tried to sleep.  The couch is a bit short for me so my legs were falling asleep.  I wish the rest of me would have :)

When we bought this unit, we didn’t realize that you couldn’t sleep on the bed with the bedroom slide pulled in.  The bed lifts up when the slide is pulled in so it doesn’t hit the dresser across from it.  I can’t sleep in the bed with the slide topper flapping around.  The good news is the wind is supposed to die down for tonight.  If not, earplugs and a Tylenol PM might be needed.

The clouds that have been zooming by did help create any amazingly beautiful sky last night.



Yesterday was football day and today we stayed home.  We did talk an hour long walk around noon during a lull in the windy weather.  Kevin started washing the outside of the trailer, and I got out the sewing machine and worked on some of my sewing projects.  Nothing too exciting.

I did add a page to the blog yesterday for Campground Reviews.  I post a review of each campground we’ve stayed at on the RV Park Reviews website.  I use that site all the time when looking for a place to stay.  I thought it might be helpful to have a page on my blog to review the campgrounds as well.  Hopefully, it will be useful for some people.

I also changed the look of the blog a little bit.  I’m playing around with background colors.  My text background color used to be light blue.  I liked the color, but found that most of my pictures are taken outside.  My background color seemed too close to the sky color in many of the pictures.  I’m hoping the new color makes the pictures pop a bit more.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Scotty’s Castle

Yesterday we drove to the north end of Death Valley National Park to take a tour of Scotty’s Castle.  What an interesting place in the middle of the desert!


This home was built between 1922 and 1931 as a vacation home by Albert and Bessie Johnson.  You’re probably wondering why is it then called Scotty’s Castle.  The story could easily be right out of a novel. 

Walter Scott “Scotty” was quite a character.   In the early 1900s he was selling shares in a gold mine that didn’t exist.  As investors in the west grew wise to him, he expanded his search to other cities.  He convinced Albert Johnson of Chicago to invest in his fictitious gold mine.  After two years of no returns, Albert decided to visit Scotty in Nevada to see the mine.  He never did see a mine, but he fell in love with Death Valley and found Scotty to be very entertaining.  Albert decided to build a vacation home in the desert.  By the time he was finished, he had spent 2 million dollars. 

Scotty stayed with the Johnson’s at their home when they came to Nevada.  He told many stories to their guests including the fact that he owned the home and Albert was his banker.  The Johnsons went along with the story so the press wouldn’t bother them.

Albert used his engineering background to build the home with electricity, indoor plumbing, an electric refrigerator, and all the newest innovations of the time.  He used water from a nearby spring to create the electricity.  I was amazed by the many modern conveniences in a house build in the 1920s!

The National Park Service offers two tours at the house.  One tour is of the inside of the house and the other is an underground tour in the tunnels under the house to see how everything worked.  Both tours were very informative and enjoyable. 

Here’s a view of the entire compound including a cook house, guest house, a clock tower and stables.  It’s set in a valley surrounded by mountains on all four sides.


IMG_0656[1]The Johnsons enjoyed music so they built a music room at the cost of $200,000.  The main instrument was a pipe organ.  Neither one of them could play the instruments, so they had paper rolls of music which played the organ and piano.  We were given a demonstration of the instruments playing, and it was quite impressive. 

P1010004This is the main living room.




The Johnsons lost a lot of money during The Depression so they were not able to finish all of the projects they had started including a large swimming pool made to look like a moat at the front of the house.  They also began renting out rooms to bring in some revenue.  Some of their guests included President Hoover, Clark Gable, Will Rogers, Betty Grable and Betty Davis.

We were walking along a path on the grounds and we heard a noise.  It sounded like crickets to me.  Kevin looked down and saw a rattle snake under a little bush along the side of the path.  Yikes!!! I’ve never seen a rattle snake other than at the zoo.  I am going to be very careful walking around the desert from now on!!  Can you see his tongue sticking out?


We took a drive up to the Ubehebe Crater.  About 2,000 years ago this volcano blew it’s top and the result was this crater.  It’s the largest such crater in the park.  It’s a half mile across and 500 feet deep.  The explosion spewed rocks over a six square mile area.

P1010014 A cold front moved through yesterday afternoon.  It was extremely windy and it even rained!  This area is only supposed to get about 3 inches of rain a year.  I think we got a good part of that last night.  It’s much cooler today, only a high of 64.  It’s supposed to be in the 70s this week; perfect!

Vermilion FlycatcherThis morning I saw this little bird sitting on the electric box outside of our window.  I did some research and think it’s a Vermilion Flycatcher, but that’s just a guess.  If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!