A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Meike Carter

Alabama Hills boondocking at its best

View Winter Journey on Meike Carter's travel map.

On the base of Mount Whitney, driving down Whitney Portal, we pulled right into Movie Dr. and found ourselves in the most amazing place- the Alabama Hills. Tons of movies have been filmed here, such as Star Trek V and Star Trek VII, Maverick, Tremors, Gladiator, Iron Man, Django Unchained, the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger, and the Man of Steel. Back in the day, many western TV series were also filmed in Lone Pine including the 1949 TV Series of The Lone Ranger, Rawhide and Bonanza.
This area is managed by the Bureau of land management (BLM), which is excellent for boondocking. We drove the 40 ft. RV down some dirt roads looking for a great protected area to park. We did not want to get stuck with the rig and decided to disconnect our tow vehicle and scout the place with our Jeep.
There are so many twists and turns around these big boulders , easy to stay hidden in the wide open. 20181130_073850.jpg
We found a great spot shielded on one side by hills with a build in fire cave and a great view onto Mount Whitney on the other. We couldn't believe how quiet and peaceful it was. I fired up the generator, fixed some fresh coffee and prepared dinner. While we had power, all devices were plugged in to be charged. Tony was outside, trying to find an area that gets a signal on the cell phone. Once he got closer to the main road, Whitney Portal he received 4G. That meant, homeschooling won't be done in the RV. It had to be done in town.
When you dry camp everything has to be planned, check for internet and use water and electricity sparingly. Definitely no long showers! Early dinner was finished, a fire outside built and we were wrapped up in blankets sitting in our chairs outside watching the stars. 20181130_073030.jpg 20181130_072951.jpg 20181130_073003.jpg

Posted by Meike Carter 09:45 Comments (0)

Mount Whitney, California

View Winter Journey on Meike Carter's travel map.

When we arrived at the base of California's highest peak called Mount Whitney, Winter storm Carter caused the pass up the mountain to shut down.
After just visiting Death Valley, the hottest place on earth and walking Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in North America, we really wanted to add the highest mountain in the State of California to the list.
Bummer...maybe we will try it in the Spring again.
Mt Whitney Trail starts in Inyo National Forest at Whitney Portal, 8,300 feet above sea level. The trail gains over 6,200 feet of elevation before reaching the summit in Sequoia National Park. The summit of Mt. Whitney is the southern end of the John Muir Trail.
We drove as close as we could, just to see if there is a way. We heard of a rescue that took place when the storm approached , which called for an immediate closure of Mount Whitney. A8DE19BA9F973A7AC7677050CA0E0482.jpg A8DD8ED00A0EFA3DAE398FF853E732F7.jpg
The next morning the sky was a beautiful blue and the sun shining. With the sun's ray warming me up, I would have never guessed that it was 32 degrees. It felt much warmer. A8D80FD4BC4510C8765947FE42DC7FBD.jpg 20181130_151646.jpg 90_20181130_151652.jpg
We really wanted to see some snow and took the Jeep to a campground that is nestled right into the foothills of the mountain. There we spotted a very bouncy dirt road and followed it to the end. There we finally got our snow.

Posted by Meike Carter 11:14 Comments (0)

Badwater Basin, Death Valley

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Death Valley is one special place !
This area sits in a below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. I did not expect to find mountains, salt creeks, dunes and one of my highlights- Badwater Basin, all within one huge park. Death Valley National Park is made up of 3,336,000 acres.
Two days were definitely not enough to explore.

Death Valley, the name doesn't sound inviting, yet here the beauty of the landscape was mindblowing. In this valley where much of it is below sea level, you can find spectacular wildflower displays, snow covered peaks, beautiful sand dunes, abandoned mines and industrial structures.
The Furnace Creek Inn and the Furnace Creek Ranch provide motel accommodations in the Furnace Creek area. The Stovepipe Wells Village provides motel accommodations and limited camping facilities. The Panamint Springs Resort offers resort accommodations and camping. We stayed at the Furnace Creek campground for $11 per night. The spot we chose was completely dry, but they offer full hookup in the same park for an additional fee.
We really loved our site, because we had a beautiful view of the mountains. No trees or campers were blocking our view .
After we hiked the Mesquite Dunes, we pulled in at Saltwater Creek but decided against the hike. It was already 2 pm by then and we really wanted to make it over to Badwater Basin before it gets dark. The distance between all the different locations are very long and require planning. We skipped eating lunch in the RV and passed right by our campsite on our way to Badwater Basin. 20181128_155528.jpg
This place is absolutely stunning! We walked about a half of a mile into the basin to get the full effect of this spectacular area. We were standing in the lowest elevation in the Western hemisphere, looking up at Dante's Peak that had a marker displayed to show where the sea level is. We were 282 feet below sea level.
60F700BFBDA6670AE58A91FEF65F66E7.jpg 20181128_161137.jpg
Several movies have been filmed in Death Valley, but one that stands out to me is Star Wars. They filmed parts of it at Badwater Basin, due to its interesting landscape.
After all the excitement our stomachs were letting us know, it's time to eat. We did not eat all day, besides breakfast and had walked over 9 miles, per Tony's pedometer. Thankfully, the little Indian village - Timbisha Shoshone- has a restaurant were we ordered some Indian tacos and caught up with social media. I was able to get very spotty internet and was excited to upload a few pictures.

Posted by Meike Carter 01:16 Comments (0)

Mesquite Dunes, Death Valley, CA

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Driving around the slopes of a mountain range in a 40 foot RV in the dark is no fun. We already came this far, there was no turning back. We had to keep on weaving our way towards Furnace Creek Campground, even if the last stretch seemed like a lifetime. Everything looks different in the dark and trying to find a free space to camp and then backing up into the spot quite challenging. Tony taught me how to guide him in the dark using only arm signals and a flashlight. It worked like a charm. In no time flat, we were set up and had some burgers on the griddle. The sky was covered with stars, probably the most stars I have ever seen.
In the morning I tried to connect to Landon's online school, with 3 G and barely 2 bars, it was impossible to get anything uploaded. I walked around the campground, holding out the cellphone in front of me, in hope of another bar. I found that extra boost right beside the dump station. Desperately to get Landon logged in for school, I stayed beside the sewer until business was taken care of. LOL
With some classes out of the way, it was time to prepare for a great day of exploring.
First place we visited was the Furnace Creek visitor center, to gather info, maps and Landon's Junior Ranger assignment. After that we were off to Mesquite Sand Dunes. 20181129_093515.jpg 20181128_110115.jpg
I was soooooo excited to hike this absolutely incredible place. This seemed like a big playground to me with the biggest sandbox ever. We wanted to get to the highest peak which seemed not too far away, yet it took forever to get to. Walking in sand is no joke and climbing some of these dunes will get your heart pumping. 20181128_132922.jpg 20181128_123831.jpg
Once we made it to the peak, we were totally surrounded by sand, as far as the eye can see. I packed a light lunch and we devoured our cookies. Landon wanted to swim down the dune, getting a great exfoliating experience along with sand in his pants. My shoes were so full of sand it began to hurt. Several times we had to empty our shoes and we found several lost socks along the way.
People walk barefoot to keep from the hassle of sand laden shoes, not realizing that their socks decided to stay. 20181128_123043.jpg
We did not see any animals out there, only holes leading to burrows that belong to the kangaroo mouse. Upon returning back to the parking lot, I was already able to feel my legs from walking the hottest place on earth. 02D8A9E89275C104D8978EFE6F1249EF.jpg 02D9B4C8DB41BE3C7CCE022624D2AED2.jpg
But...we weren't done yet.
Next stop was Salt Creek and Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in the western hemisphere.

Posted by Meike Carter 05:23 Comments (0)

Red Rock State Park

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About a 30 minute drive from Las Vegas, heading West is another amazing place, Red Rock State Park .The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converges with the El Paso Mountains. We asked at the visitor center if the parking lots along the 13 mile stretch thru the park could accommodate RV's. We were told, it is doable. Well...we took Journey through the park only to discover that all the parking lots were swamped. We had to come up with Plan B.
Red Rock Campground is just a couple of minutes from the main entrance and serves as first come, first served. This is a primitive campground, no hookups, no water, some composting toilets, but right in the desert with the nightsky as clear and full of stars. Luckily two more spots were available. We set up, paid our $11 and relaxed for the night. Our plan B was to enter the park in the morning, park in overflow parking with RV, unhook the Jeep, take advantage of the WIFI connection to do school. That plan worked ! I even prepared lunch and packed my hiking bag full with water, sandwiches and camera equipment. We jumped into the Jeep and explored Red Rocks. A much better attempt! One of my highlights was this amazing hike through a canyon that got steeper and rockier the further up we hiked. In some parts we had to climb up sides of little cliffs. It was so thrilling and adventurous, perfect for a picnic at the top of an overlook. 20181127_124209.jpg
DFBDAEF9BF729DB17F96EDE5FA7865BF.jpg W 90_20181127_131428.jpg e also hiked the Petroglyph wall trail alongside the mountain. That trail seemed safer to me, it wasn't as strenuous as the other. I am glad we took the entire day to visit Red Rocks. Around 3pm, we returned to the Visitor Center parking lot, connected the Jeep and headed towards Death Valley, California.

Posted by Meike Carter 09:17 Comments (0)

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