Mar 30, 2016

Death Valley "SUPERBLOOM" Part 1


Hey everything’s brown... We missed it, oh well. Don’t read any further...

Every year we set out for the area in and around Death Valley National Park. The first year it was the items on the Park Map: The Racetrack, Lippincott pass, Saline Hot springs and we even found a few adopt-a-cabins. The following year we stuck to roads that didn’t exist on most maps and found ever more interesting places and cabins. 
Every year since, going on 9 now, we scour maps for months ahead of time trying to find new surprises and gems before we ever start the truck up to head out!

2016 was no different. We had a lot we wanted to cover, but we’ve also gotten better at trying to focus on one area instead of it all. This year we would start in Mojave and use Butte Valley as our northern most point. (Traditionally Butte valley would be our southern most post)
After working a long day in Phoenix, AZ we rolled into camp well after dark. What we woke up to was extraordinary.

Most of us slept in our trucks, but my brother and T slept in the cabin. This one is very well kept and visited almost every night. We were lucky to get it, but thankfully a Wed night is the most likely to get it.
I had to get up and walk around. There is something special about mornings in the desert. All the more so when you didn’t get to see it the night before.

So many old mining ruins. The air is dry, cold and still.

This was a beautiful spot. Within sight of the I-15 and people speeding on their way to Vegas to loose money or speeding home to Los Angeles to go and make some more.
Sometimes it’s nice to step back from that obvious rat race to think about other ways you yourself fall into that trap. Always gunning for that promotion so you can afford more toys, but in the process work too long to have time to use them? Always finding that your costs exactly match your current pay? Funny how that works...
This little shanty of a cabin sits in view of all the sheep, but is somehow so far removed from it.

Tin can alley next to the guest house.

The folks who are working to keep this cabin in shape are coming back to complete a bench on this swinging bed frame.

The walls are filled with photos of the original inhabitant.

Although this room looks a bit eerie in the lighting, it’s just had a new floor put in making it a much nicer spot to spend time than before.
Now, go sit in that chair and practice violin until your fingers bleed. Now.

There is a little artifact museum in one room that exists, only if people resist the temptation to take things home with them. I know it’s strong, but do you really want to deprive others of the wonder you felt?
Plus, my Danish friend says their Queen makes a mean ham!

There was even a note from the son of the Cabin’s owner thanking folks for all of the hard work.

We took our time getting going and spent the first half of the day just exploring the old cabins and mining remnants of this little valley.
Off to the next cabin!

The interior was the cleanest of any I’d ever seen. It had a lot of recent work done as well.

In it hung this note:

Moving around the valley the next camp had a bus that was visible for miles away.

For some reason buses and commercial trucks are always imposing. Even when in the desert without an engine. I feel like at any moment they can decide to crush you.

The transmission on the bus was free and you could still find a couple of gears. It’s amazing what some oil and a well sealed case can do to prevent rust.

The interior was rough.

This bunker had a fair amount of time put into keeping it secure. Concrete, home made latches and hidden hinges. It may just have been food stored here, but someone wanted it to be safe.

The house had a great view with it’s own mine entrance just behind it.

Moving along. We’d only move another few hundred yards when we came to this truck.

Which led right to another cabin. This one had yet to be restored.

The desert was sure happy and loving spring.

Hmmm, what’s that strange wall that’s literally build around the rock?

Well, it’s just more wind protection for the fire pit of course! I love it.

In some of the more run down areas you really have to look past the big picture to see the details. Things like this barn door slider were beautiful.

This large picture window in a wood paneled room with a fireplace. This would be a good place to spend some time when this building was in it’s prime.

Need an addition, just back it in.

Most of the roads we explore in the deserts and mountains were built with a tractor/dozer. Most are long gone. This highly used and highly DIY repaired one was still on site. I wonder how many of the trails around here it built.

The air controls of this long forgotten car are still nice and legible.

Time to hit the road, we took some dirt roads towards Baker, CA. (Home of the worlds largest thermometer! WOW!)
This would be our last gas stop for several days so we topped it off and headed back into the dirt. This next cabin was new to us and the road to it had been mostly washed away. At times there simply was no road. We’d scan on the horizon and eventually someone would see signs of a road and we’d B-line over to it.
This washout was worse than most, but easy enough to have some fun on it.

Now Steve, time to crush those plastic bumpers a bit...

The front departure angle was fine on the drop in, but the rear bumper was going to touch.

Go slow, very very slow. This hill is big enough that if you hit it at too much of an angle it could flip you, but it’s also a steep enough of a step up that your front bumper will sit on the dirt if we don’t angle it a bit. Okay!?

Damnit, too fast Steve. Be nice to your truck! Listen to the spotter...

Once the lockers clicked in it climbed up and out though.

Chewie is audibly laughing at his driver.

Lockers a supercharger and 33's meant that Kevin was going to use the whiskey throttle technique to cross.

It worked, but it wasn’t pretty. I give up.

Eventually, we made it to the cabin. This one had quite a collection of appliances at it’s round about.

All in all, it was a nice one, if a small one.

What can you guess about the caretaker?

Yep, D. All of the above.
He sounded like a really good guy. Just a couple years ago he was killed when a semi crossed over the center line while on his way back home from working on this very cabin.

He sounded like a really good guy. Just a couple years ago he was killed when a semi crossed over the center line while on his way back home from working on this very cabin.
“Dear old dad, the best pal I ever had.” Stickers were posted around the cabin. The words seem to hang over the entire cabin, but not in a creepy way. In a comforting way. We were visiting a place that a very loved person spent some special times at.
Many of these cabins have shooting ranges at them. This one was no exception.

The best addition to every cabin we’ve ever visited? A deck. Somewhere to sit outside, but out of the sun is a little piece of heaven. We sat here on the deck for a while and decided that we’d better fix a football sized hole in the roof we’d noticed. So, we moved a truck next to the cabin and used a home made ladder that was exactly as sketchy and bendy as it sounds to get an oven door to sit over the opening. Hopefully it keeps out any excess dust and rain that may have gotten in.

At this point it was barely afternoon of our first day and we’d seen and done a lot. Time to head for a cabin to stay at. Off we went!

As the terrain changed, we knew we were getting close, but that’s for the next part!

Now, until Part II, go and repent. Sinner!