So, James and I head out to Death Valley. The goal is to stay in the exceptional Geologist’s Cabin. https://spikekalashnikov.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/cabin-fever/
Tacoma loaded, we blast over to Sacramento and then take 50 over the Sierras. Up through the pines into the snow with a deep blue sky above, we go.
Down the other side to hit 395 and then cruise all the way down the other side of the Sierras. It is a beautiful day and we have huge snow covered mountains to the right and desert to the left. One of the great drives.
We try to drive up to Bodie https://spikekalashnikov.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/lashed-by-tempests-of-lust-and-passion/ but the main access road is closed because of snow but I know a back way and we drive around back trials, gleeful at having beaten the man until, well on the way up, the road is blocked by impassable concrete blocks. Rats!
However we take at tramp around Mono Lake, which is amazing.
We have no plan other than drive down towards Death Valley until we get fed up. It is getting dark and we are getting vaguely fed up as we gallop into Big Pine. The town looked quiet, indeed strangely quiet. We stop at a motel and ask if they have a room. It takes us a surprisingly long time to notice the candle burning on the counter. They cannot rent us a room because there is no electricity.
Strange experience a U.S. town with no power – McDonalds with no golden arches, no street lights, all gas stations closed, everything closed.
We have no option but to keep driving. It is pitch black as we roar up the 40 miles to Panamint Springs, there is no light anywhere. There is a total blackout over this part of California. We finally see lights ahead. It is Panamint Springs, a gas station, restaurant and camp site on the edge of Death Valley. Their power comes from generators. We camp.
Up and off but we do not buy gas as it is much cheaper 40 miles away in Stovepipe Wells down in the valley. Beautiful drive into Death Valley descending from 6000ft to sea level with massive vistas at least the size of Belgium. Regretfully, there is no power in Stovepipe Springs and so no gas. Fundamental rule of desert adventure is to set off into the backcountry with as much gas as possible so we turn around and head back to Panamint Springs.
Hmmm, strange start.