Doug & Lou’s Exceptional Adventure: Driving out of Death Valley and Beyond

February 9th — Heading out of Death Valley was another one of those crazy drives where straight roads turned into steep, windy mountain passes followed by flatlands and sand storms.

Death Valley Sand Dunes. I kept looking for Geronimo to come riding over the hill on a camel!
Gnarled old trees looked like driftwood……. walking on these sand dunes made me think I had gone to another part of the world altogether

You could see millions of footsteps on the dunes….impressions that must have been fairly fresh because when the winds blow in Death Valley all traces of these tracks are erased in minutes. Lucky for us, the wind was not blowing while we were trekking through the sand!

We drove a short distance away and came upon some mountains that had pretty amazing colours.

An Artist’s Pallet of colour

We were back into travelling mountain ranges and valleys. Neither of us had expected to pass through such steep passes on our way out, but the increased heart rates and palpitations (Louise — extreme, Doug — moderate. Hey, I have to protect my reputation) were rewarded with vistas that were amazing……a good thing, too…..because when the warning light for “brake system needs service” came on…..well…if it weren’t for the view…!!!!!##*!

We were climbing so high, it looked like we would be in the snowy mountain tops….and then we would come down and turn into a valley that stretched for miles
Then up another climb

When we finally made the last turn toward Olancha we were greeted with winds of about 50mph and sand sweeping across the road. It looked like people actually farmed in this area…..there were a few tractors in fields …. and a few cows, too. We wondered how anyone could work in such a wind, but I guess they do!

Who has seen the wind? Looks like fog, but it is sand

We decided to drive as far as Bakersfield, CA and called an RV Park in the city to reserve a spot. Driving toward Bakersfield we were greeted with the greenest hills we have seen so far this trip. Finally….it is beginning to look like summer!

The grass looked just like emerald green velvet

Driving into the city, we could smell the oranges from the orange groves along the highway.

River Run RV Park was located right in the city, and our grandiose dream of walking to a nearby restaurant was discarded as soon as we got hooked up and settled in with a beer…..so we happily ate one of my amazing stir-fries once again. I worked on the ‘long blog’ and we retired for the night.

February 10 - In the morning we called the Dodge dealer to see if they could look at the brakes. “Nope, not until next week sometime!” So we called the dealer in the next town about 1/2 hour away, described what we were driving and he assured us “no problem….as long as you get it here before noon”……so off we went to Delano. Arrived at the garage at 10:40 where some young man was sent out to tell us that “no….we don’t have the equipment here to do anything on your vehicle”! We went inside and spoke to the man who had told us ‘no problem’ to discover….. “oh, no….we can’t work on that vehicle here!” Doug politely thanked him for his “incompetence” and we left. The warning lights had not come on all morning, and the brakes were working fine, so we put the problem down to the blowing sand of Death Valley and have been merrily travelling along ever since! Yes, we do have CAA! ( The gentleman at the auto dealer saved us some money as the brakes are fine. The blowing sand probably got into the brake linings and the morning’s heavy rain washed it out. I should send the service guy a note to tell him his “incompetence” saved us money. Wonder if I’ll get around to that? ha!)

It was raining when we left Bakersfield, and it continued to rain all morning so we put Plan B into effect! We would find a Barnes & Noble and chill out for a few hours before driving on to a campsite. Better still….we would find a hotel for the night about an hour outside of Vallejo, CA where we were headed to visit someone very special.

Stopped in Merced, CA for about two and a half hours. Best Barnes & Noble so far! (First place with anything much more than People magazine and Adult colouring books. That would be 6 or 7 Walmarts and 2 other Barnes & Nobles. A very uneducated population. No surprise how they vote. …. but this one was in California….so ……We have met any number of ‘Educated’ American who were barely aware of their own history. The Decline of the American Empire …is in full swing). Spent some U.S. $$$ (I bought a discount book on the history of Rum. I should be ready to lend it to any of you souses out there when we get back.) Headed for Dublin, CA where we found a great Holiday Inn right next to OUTBACK steak house!! A perfect night of steak and sleep!

Next Blog…..Vallejo to San Francisco!

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