This is the face a very Happy Camper!
Every year (sometimes twice a year), I make my pilgrimage to Death Valley's, Saline Warm Springs, a place that really speaks to my soul.
It may be that I'm a "Desert Rat," it may be that I love going to a place where there's no cell service or it may be a combination of the two, but this place is special to me, in fact, this is where I want my ashes to be scattered when the time comes.
This time, I plan to spend seven days at the springs; limited only by the amount of ice and water I can take with me.
I've posted a lot of blog entries of my trips to Saline, so this entry may seem a bit redundant, but I do want to record each of my visits to SV, so, here it is.
Because the clocks changed back to Standard Time, I had to get an early start out of Reno if I wanted to arrive at the springs before dark, so I lit out around 8:00 a.m. The traffic was light and the drive was easy, especially because the North Pass Road into the springs was in very good shape, which is usually not the case.
This sign means you're leaving the pavement, cell service and civilization and I get flat out giddy every time I pass it. The sign also means you're about three hours away from your final destination.
I arrived at the springs with a little over an hour of daylight left. As soon as I pulled up to my usual spot, I was greeted by a woman with a tub of homemade ice cream and a handful of spoons. She was offering everyone a spoonful of dessert and was making her way through the entire lower springs area. People are always so nice here.
I got my rig set up quickly and as usual, I was soaking within 30 minutes of arriving. I always re-read an Edward Abbey book when I go to S.V. and this time, it was The Fool's Progress, which is one of my favorites. I soaked and read until some other evening soakers arrived at the "Sunrise Pool" and we all had a nice conversation until well after sunset.
After getting my first soak in, Dexter and I went back to the camper, where I made our traditional first night's supper of steak bites, fried potatoes and salad. Like I always do, I ate my dinner while watching an old black & white movie on my DVD player. This evening's feature was "Out of the Past" with Robert Mitchum.
The contentious mid-term elections were going to happen in a few short days, but here in S.V., it was easy to put all of that bullshit behind me and just BE.
The next morning, as I did every morning, I slept in, made some coffee, took a soak, read my book and took Dex for a walkabout.
The weather was perfect (for the most part). This is a beautiful view of the Inyo Mountains from the oasis, near the main pool area.
Back in Reno, you'd need a coat and warm clothes, but here, you can walk around naked...and many people did!
There are always a wide array of interesting rigs and campsites here...
This guy set up his teepee, wigwam, or whatever it should be called and
his camp hosted croquet games and nighttime tribal drum ceremonies. He
was considerate though and set his camp up far away so as not to disturb other
visitors with his late night drumming.
This rig just looks natural here.
There are always a ton of pop-up truck campers here; probably because they're
so practical to take to places like this.
It was my first time seeing this rig. A Canadian family put the body of a Casita camper onto
this 4WD commercial Mitsubishi rig.
It was a very interesting set up and it seemed to work great for them.
S.V. has a primitive runway known as "The Chicken Strip" and it seems to get a fair bit
of use. Pilots can make a quick trip from Las Vegas, land here, take a soak and return home,
which makes for a very nice day trip.
This plane landed without any problems. The wind was calm and other conditions were
perfect. In a day or two, this would not be the case.
Of course, the little private planes have to avoid the ever-present fighter jets that
make daily appearances at S.V. It's always a treat when these awesome machines
buzz the springs. Sometimes they're so low that you can see the goggles on the pilots
faces. They'll rattle your filings loose and frighten the dogs, but they're just one of those
things that make this place so special.
As the day wound down, it was time for a cigar and a cocktail. I recently discovered the
incredible Michelada (Mexican beer, Clamato juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire), which
is a great warm weather drink, so that would be today's Happy Hour.
After a sunset soak, dinner and another old movie, I made my way down to the main pool for a
late night soak. There's usually live music around the campfire, near the main pool, after dark
and this trip was no exception.
There were a number of guitars and even a full-sized acoustic bass at this week's
campfires. There were also a lot of very talented singers around the fire and some of us
not-so-talented singers putting our two cents in from the soaking pool nearby.
I was told that this guy goes by the name of "Tequila Pete."
What a great way to end each night.
Another day, another walkabout...
Dexter made friends with an adolescent burro who stopped by
the main pool area.
They're so cute that it's easy to forget how much of a nuisance they are.
Mama burro decided to have a quick snack of newspapers from
the fire pit. They'll eat damn near anything, so if you visit the area,
stow all of your things out of their reach.
These burros are smart. They can kick an ice chest until it opens, remove gear
that you thought was safely stowed under your vehicle and get into your tent if you
don't remain ever-vigilant.
The word around the springs was that the Park Service has already started to round up these burros in the southern portion of the park and that they're going to work their way up north. In a year or two, there may no longer be burros roaming around the springs.
A great place to sit a spell every morning...
I always check out the ever-changing rock art in the area.
This gecko was really incredible!
The bat is the official/unofficial logo of S.V.
This rock-art bat was beautiful, but watching the real bats come out each evening and buzz the springs (sometimes within inches of your face) is the real treat.
These are the upper "Palm Springs" pools.
This is the Wizard Pool and it had just been cleaned and was being refilled
when we stopped by.
One of the many Labyrinths in the area. This one was right outside one of the restrooms
(the shadow is from the privy).
I'm sure that this old "Canned Ham" trailer is just used for storage now, but it gives
the area a nice vintage throwback feel to the area.
During my week here, the weather was perfect at times and at other times, it was windy, dusty and cold. Temps would fluctuate wildly, but always seemed to be within the "acceptable comfort zone." It's always wise to prepare for a wide variety of weather because, after all, it's DEATH VALLEY!
My days always consist of: wake, eat, soak, read, walk, nap, eat, walk, read, soak, eat, soak and end it all with an old movie AND REPEAT.
I need this every year and I'm so glad that places like this still exist and that I'm fortunate
enough to live within a day's drive of it.
Well, another pilgrimage to Saline Valley is in the books.
I'm already planning another trip for March, 2019, but if the passes are dicey, the roads are bad or if life just gets in the way and prevents me from going next spring, one thing's for sure, I'll be back in November for another week at my sacred spot.