The sounds and smells of a campground ignite my childhood memories -- campfire smoke, bacon cooking, the soft music-like camper voices. Tonight the stars and a new moon are so close it feels like I can reach out and touch them. After boondocking the past few nights on isolated backroads, Death Valley provides us with a full campground experience. What's especially surprising and delightful is many of the campers are tent campers. There are tents everywhere -- Boy Scout troups, biking groups, family gatherings, and forest service worker gangs.
|National Park service worker camp.|
The few RVers have small rigs. No generators are allowed. There are no hookups. The quiet is powerful and soothing.
|Texas Spring Campground, Death Valley, CA|
|We walk the hillsides before dinner|
Long after the sun has set, it is warm outside. There's a soft breeze. We have just finished a delightfully tasty dinner. Campers' fires flicker with most other lights dimmed or out entirely. Camp contentment settles.
|Our first night in Death Valley|
Hiking in National Parks and the State Parks of California is problematic for us. Dogs are not allowed on the trails, even on leashes. It is too hot to leave them in cars, plus it is against the rules to leave them unattended. This pretty much means dog owners don't get to do back country exploration. Death Valley's deep canyons will remain out of our reach. Fortunately, Benton can go on any auto road, so the little, narrow, gravel car-traveling roads can be explored, both in Thistle and on foot, or perhaps on our bicycles. Tomorrow we will set out to see what we can see, despite the restrictions placed on our dog-owning, dog-loving , dog-traveling family.
We have been on the road for seven days and already the dates, days and times are fading into mulled confusion. Was it yesterday, or the day before that we biked or hiked or drove too many miles? Our biggest problem might be how to keep track of the time, the day, the month. Do we notch our belts? Or do we simply give up? Next you see us, will we not know the year?
Tonight's camping fee in Death Valley is $7.00, with our National Park senior discount. That, and the $22 we spent one night at a campground in Nevada, are our only camp costs to date. The $22 night included free hot showers, free dumping, and hookups to allow us to totally recharge Thistle and all our electronic gadgets. Seven days for $29, providing adventure and pleasure aplenty, is a bargain price!
|Lake Topaz, Nevada|
Midnight and we both wake up to the wind howling and our awning flapping. What looked like lightning, were flashlight flashes as other campers battened down their hatches. We hadn't anticipated this wind, despite the forecast for 30% rain. We both crawled out of our cozy "upstairs bedroom" to lower the awning and move the chairs inside, then back to bed to enjoy the breeze - the breeze that was a flat-out cyclone before securing our camp.
"Don't you wish you could take a single childhood memory and blow it up into a bubble and live inside it forever."
- Sarah Addison Allen