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Author Topic: Death Valley - caution  (Read 7768 times)

ArdraF

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Death Valley - caution
« on: May 14, 2007, 07:29:07 PM »
Re curiosity about German visitors renting motorhomes.  On our first trip to Las Vegas I was amazed to see billboards in German warning visitors not to camp in dry washes that can get very wet, very fast.  We were told that Germans, in particular, are very curious not only about seeing our western terrain (they have nothing similar to some of our national parks) but want to experience desert heat as in Death Valley during August!  We were just in Bryce Canyon and most of the people on the trails seemed to be speaking some language other than English, so our national parks are quite popular destinations for foreign visitors.

ArdraF

ArdraF
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Carl L

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2007, 08:29:45 PM »
The goal for Europeans to go to Death Valley in August is to experience temperatures over 50°C.   That is 122°F which is not as memorable number for Americans and Brits.   

Other than that, Germans are by far the most noticeable group of foreign visitors.  They like motorhome and the Old West is a big deal in Germany.   There is a series of western novels by Karl May that is at the base of this.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Shatterhand.    As a group, the Germans are adventurous to say the least.  We meet a couple in Beaver, UT who did not speak English but they rented a motorhome from El Monte and took off to see the west.  We were the only two units in the CG.   We spent an evening working with a dictionary and Cindy's college German.   A lot of fun actually.   
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Mike (ex-f-221)

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2007, 04:59:54 AM »
As a German citizen I can explain a little bit what's going on in the hearts and minds of my people – hope I can.

AdraF, we don't know such things like washes; we cannot imagine they are able to change their character in such a short time.

The experience of a 122°F-Death Valley: As a foreign visitor you don't have much time. And you have to travel when your boss says: “It’s OK". Most of us travel in the summer (maybe a late effect of the first years after WW II, when Italy was discovered by the first Germans post-war-tourists as “the promised land”).

Carl, not only the Old West is a big deal in Germany. Your country is a large area with every kind of landscape, every kind of climes (?). Germany is not as rich in those things. Same applies to the National Parks, AdraF mentioned. So the whole country is worth an exploration. But as a “short-time-visitor” you have to decide where and how long you want to stay a while and enjoy. That may explain the curious behavior. A look at datastormusers.com shows you where you are in winter or in summer. Nice to see you sliding to the south in winter and swashing back in summer. And if you do so, the German visitors should trust you...

My personally dream is to fly to the USA, buy a motorhome (I calculated and learned that they are much cheaper than here) and travel around as long as the visitor visa (and the bank account) allows it. Then return to Germany and start it all over again. A time ago I bought a road atlas (Rand McNally) and about 1300 pages USA in a travel guide (Lonely Planet). So I get a picture of what I would do, when I realize my dreams, my plans.

Yes, AdraF, I remember: "The best laid plans of mice and men...."  ;) But when I really start the whole thing I'll hum the Elvis-song “My wish came true”.

Until then I hum what Perry Como sung:
“Far away places with strange-sounding names
Far away over the sea
Those far away places with the strange-sounding names
Are callin', callin' me

Goin' to China or maybe Siam
I wanna see for myself
Those far away places I've been readin' about
In a book that I took from the shelf

I start getting restless whenever I hear
The whistle of a train
I pray for the day I can get underway
And look for those castles in Spain

They call me a dreamer, well, maybe I am
But I know that I'm burnin' to see
Those far away places with the strange-sounding names
Callin', callin' me”
« Last Edit: May 15, 2007, 05:06:59 AM by Mike (ex-f-221) »
Mike Muellner
Bremerhaven, Germany

Tom

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2007, 07:24:50 AM »
While we were camped in Torrey a few weeks ago, one of those red tour buses arrived, the folks alighted and out came the kitchen. Later, while I was washing the windshield of our coach, a couple of German ladies walked by and we had an interesting discussion. They were from different parts of Germany and happened to book the same tour with the same tour company. They explained they were in a group of 20 passengers on a 21 day tour. (The bus can hold/sleep 27 people.) The bus driver was also the cook and the mechanic.

Walking through a campground in Zion NP a couple of nights ago, Chris Pennings recognized his native Dutch being spoken by a group of folks. He struck up a conversation with them and learned it was a group of 16 who had come over from Holland and rented RVs for a tour. Yesterday, Chris P talked with the tour guide of a different group of folks from Holland who have rented 11 RVs for a 6-week tour.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2007, 08:24:08 AM by Tom »
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MLCBFarrell

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2007, 07:54:39 AM »
Yes, it's not just Germans who are enjoying our country!
With the exchange rate right now, the Euro goes further here, so many Europeans are spending vacation time in the good ol' USA. A lot of Europeans speak English, since it is taught in schools as a second language in many European countries. We met a Dutch family a couple of years ago. The husband/father is a big traveler, and has made solo trips to the U.S. several times. Two years ago though, he brought the entire family (wife, daughter,and son).The father had met my sister-in-law in a small town WWII museum in northwestern PA on one of his previous solo trips, and they kept in touch. He helped her acquire things for the museum on one of her trips overseas. He is a huge history/military buff!

Long story short, because of that chance encounter with S-I-L, we had the luck to get to know them. They spent 2 days with us here in VA, and we all hit it off so well that we now have their daughter (who is 18) as a foreign exchange student this year. We have had her since August. Her father came to visit in January for 3 weeks, and spent a lot of time touring the civil war and military sights around Fredericksburg, VA along with visiting NYC, VA Beach, and Chincoteague Island. Not to mention PA Dutch country! One of the things they find so amazing is how big everything is here. One of her Dad's fun things was to drive our Ford Excursion on a trip home from Walmart. He could not believe how big it was!

Her mother will be coming for a 3 week visit in late June, then mom and daughter will go back to Holland in late July. We are treating them to a week long camping trip in the RV over July 4th. We figured that since our Dutch "daughter" was here to experience America this year, we'd wrap up her stay with a good old American tradition--camping on the fourth of July! Swimming, BBQ, Country music, S'mores, a campfire, and fireworks--they'll get it all!

By the way, the whole exchange student thing has been GREAT! So glad we took the chance on hosting her, we have had an amazing year with a great teenager. She will be returning to Holland to go to Medical School there!  :)
Mike (U.S.N., ret. '03), LuAnn, DD (17), DS (15)
Emma, the camping beagle mutt,
3 cats that stay behind as house guards!
2005 Ford Excursion 4x4 Ltd. V-10
2008 Jayco Jayflight G2 32BHDS
Lifetime Good Sam member
Northern Neck of VA

Carl L

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2007, 01:30:29 PM »
Quote
As a German citizen I can explain a little bit what's going on in the hearts and minds of my people – hope I can.

AdraF, we don't know such things like washes; we cannot imagine they are able to change their character in such a short time.


Don't feel too bad about that -- a lot of Americans have learned about dry washes the hard way.   The hardest lesson about dry washes that I ever heard of happened to the Southern Pacific RR in Tehachapi, California.   One of their huge mountain hauling steam engines was sitting on a trestle in Tehachapi Pass when a flash flood/mud flow came down the wash.  It picked the engine and carried it a kilometer down the wash and buried it so deeply it had to be found with a magnetometer.

Quote
The experience of a 122°F-Death Valley: As a foreign visitor you don't have much time. And you have to travel when your boss says: “It’s OK". Most of us travel in the summer (maybe a late effect of the first years after WW II, when Italy was discovered by the first Germans post-war-tourists as “the promised land”)

According to a ranger I talked with in Death Valley, the most common visitors to DV in the summer are, of all nationalities, the Italians.  Evidently they feel they are used to heat.  What the ranger said was that may be true but they are not used to humidities in the single digits as well as heat in the 50C range.

Quote
My personally dream is to fly to the USA, buy a motorhome (I calculated and learned that they are much cheaper than here) and travel around as long as the visitor visa (and the bank account) allows it. Then return to Germany and start it all over again. A time ago I bought a road atlas (Rand McNally) and about 1300 pages USA in a travel guide (Lonely Planet). So I get a picture of what I would do, when I realize my dreams, my plans.
 

Best of luck there.  We have a number of our members that have done exactly the same thing.   When you come to the USA, may I recommend the Four Corners country of Colorado-Arizona-Utah-New Mexico and the US395 tour of the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California.   Two of the most spectacular touring country of the USA.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2007, 01:32:02 PM by Carl L »
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Topolino

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2007, 01:48:05 PM »
MLCB Farrell can I just say thank you for opening your heart and home to your "Dutch daughter"  I was a foreign exchange student to New Zealand and to Italy and both times had wonderful families that hosted me.  You are giving her one of the most wonderful experiences of her life and she will be eternally grateful.  Mike (ex-f-221) you said that Italy is the "Promised Land" I had never understood why Italy had soo many German tourists in August.  I don't think my husband ever realized it either.  He grew up on the border of  Switzerland on the Italian Lake Como and they always had long lines at the border of Germans streaming into Italy many with their campers for August.  I still have a lot to learn about my second home.   :D   
Meg

MLCBFarrell

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2007, 03:30:01 PM »
I had never understood why Italy had soo many German tourists in August. 

Topolino, I think I can explain that one to you! We lived in the Naples, IT area for 4 years while my husband was stationed at the NATO base there with the Navy. In August, almost ALL Italians go on vacation somewhere. Some restaurants and shops are closed down for almost the entire month while they go on vacation, usually to the beaches. Italians love the beaches. My Italian friends lived in a tiny 2-bedroom apartment on the third floor of a building with no elevator. They had a boy and a girl who shared a bedroom. They lived very modestly all year long, but come August!!! They had a big house near the beach for the entire month. Most everywhere we went in Italy did NOT have air conditioning (other than hotels and some restaurants), and August is the hottest month, so they are outside near the water as much as possible, rather than staying inside. So, in August, I think it is less crowded for tourists to come from other countries and see places other than the beaches!

We would go back there in a heartbeat, especially our kids. That is the first home that they remember because they were so small when we went over, and boy did we have some adventures!
Mike (U.S.N., ret. '03), LuAnn, DD (17), DS (15)
Emma, the camping beagle mutt,
3 cats that stay behind as house guards!
2005 Ford Excursion 4x4 Ltd. V-10
2008 Jayco Jayflight G2 32BHDS
Lifetime Good Sam member
Northern Neck of VA

ArdraF

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2007, 04:55:19 PM »
Mike (x-f-221),

Thanks for your comments.  RVing has certainly made the world a smaller place!  A number of Forumites have come over to the U.S., bought motorhomes, and traveled here as long as they could.  We've really enjoyed meeting them.  I can say after talking with them that six months or even a year is barely enough time to get acquainted with our country, so please come and spend as long as you can when your dream finally comes true (I too love Perry Como's song).

Just a note of clarification, a wash (or arroyo in Spanish) is a ditch, gully, or channel where water flows when there is a rainstorm or melting snow in the spring.  Washes are generally dry, but a storm 40 miles away can cause terrible problems downstream so you always want to be on high ground and not down in a wash.  We once were staying in the Oasis RV Park in Las Vegas during a rainstorm and saw first hand what flowing water can do.  The wash between the I-15 freeway and the Oasis was clogged with debris and the water found a weak place in the fence, broke out the fence, and flowed through the lowest part of the RV park.  We moved our motorhome from a lower site to high ground and watched the water rise to the edge of our new site.  The speed of the water's flow, as measured by watching some orange highway construction cones float by, was something to see and within an hour all that was left was a lot of mud and some cement pads were broken by the force of the water.  One person's Class A motorhome was flooded up to his main floor.  Jerry took photos because they were not there when it happened and the fellow was really glad to have them later when talking with his insurance company.  He said trying to explain a flood in Las Vegas was very difficult!  It may surprise others to learn that we have flood insurance in the desert.

You Germans may recall about ten years ago when a group of German tourists were killed at Antelope Canyon in Arizona.  This tragedy happened when water flowed down the wash and through the canyon while they were in it.  In this case, Antelope Canyon is what we call a "slot canyon" meaning the wash upstream is quite wide (50 feet or so), but it narrows to 5-15 feet and water flows through it with so much force that it erodes and shapes the canyon.  The result of the water action makes beautiful photographs, especially around noon when the sun is overhead and filters down through the top of the canyon.  This means it's a popular destination for tourists.  Those of us who live in the west watch the weather report before venturing to such areas, whether it's for photography or a four wheeling adventure.  I believe we saw those billboards in German shortly after this happened.  We want our visitors to be safe and go home with wonderful memories.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

MLCBFarrell

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2007, 08:12:46 AM »
Mike (x-f-221),

Something else that I thought of, as far as foreign visitors coming to the U.S. and driving...

Make sure that you're familiar with driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. In Europe, most vehicles are standard transmission, which require you to shift. Here, though, a bigger majority are automatic, so you don't have to do all the shifting. When our Dutch girl's father visited from Holland, he had a hard time getting used to starting/turning off the car in Park. He also had a hard time remembering that he did NOT have a clutch to push in to shift into Drive from Park, but he DID have to push in the brake pedal. Let me tell you, that made for a few interesting moments in the parking lot of my son's elementary school!  ;D

Also, be aware of local laws. For example, here in VA (as in some other states), if the weather requires that you use your windshield wipers, then you had BETTER have your headlights on also. I would suggest that if you're driving in bad weather and you see the majority of cars with their lights on, then you should put yours on also. Although, there are many people who do not obey, and boy do I wish they only understood how hard it is to see them when the weather is bad!! Remember, wipers on=lights on!!

Also, as dangerous as it is to be driving TOO fast, it is also dangerous to be driving TOO slow. So, make sure to obey the posted speed limit, since a lot of Americans have a habit of driving at least 5 mph above the posted speed limit, if not faster. I was afraid my Dutch visitor would be run over from behind, since he was trying to drive and look at all the scenery at the same time, and was driving slower than other traffic. People on their way home from work did NOT appreciate his sightseeing. Since they could not tell by his rental car that he was a visitor, they just found it annoying that he was going so slow.

He was able to get around quite well on his own because he brought his TomTom GPS system with him from Holland. He had maps of the U.S., Canada, and Europe on it. That was a HUGE help, as he was able to find his way from the DC airport to our house  and do his sightseeing with no problems. I did give him some stuff for the trunk of the car, such as a flashlight, blanket, water, first aid kit, etc. in case he had an emergency. Hope this info helps you when you plan your visit to the U.S.!
Mike (U.S.N., ret. '03), LuAnn, DD (17), DS (15)
Emma, the camping beagle mutt,
3 cats that stay behind as house guards!
2005 Ford Excursion 4x4 Ltd. V-10
2008 Jayco Jayflight G2 32BHDS
Lifetime Good Sam member
Northern Neck of VA

Tom

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2007, 08:37:02 AM »
When we expect visitors from overseas who will be driving in California, either renting or borrowing one of our vehicles, I usually pick up a copy of the driving booklet at the DMV and mail it to them several months ahead of time with a note saying "some bed time reading before you arrive". I've been doing that for many years, although some folks don't read it. They usually have a tough time taking it seriously when they read things like "you must stop at a red light, but you can turn right at a red light unless a sign says you can't". It doesn't help that the booklet gets bigger ever year.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2007, 08:45:03 AM by Tom »
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Tom

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2007, 09:18:17 AM »
... He also had a hard time remembering that he did NOT have a clutch to push in ...

We are definitely creatures of habit. I usually tell folks to do something I learned when I first visited the U.S. and drove my first automatic in the 70's; I tell them to keep a light pressure on the floor with their left foot until they can forget it's there and no longer need to "do something with it" while shifting.

Also tough for folks from left-side drive countries is to stay on the right side of the road. It's not a problem in normal traffic, but can catch you unawares when, for example, you turn at an intersection and there are no other vehicles around; It's very easy to find yourself on the wrong side of the road after you make the turn. This occasionally catches me unawares when I visit the UK, although it doesn't take long to get a wakeup call. I've seen me try to get out of the car rental place through the entrance. Last trip I made the exit OK and immediately proceeded to drive anti-clockwise around the first roundabout before I caught myself. A bus driver stopped and shook his head until Chris made a "dumb tourist" gesture and he laughed.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2007, 09:29:21 AM by Tom »
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Mike (ex-f-221)

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2007, 10:49:34 AM »
ArdraF,
Flooding: Looked at Google Earth, saw the wash between I-15 and the Oasis and tried to imagine what you described. Must be a moment of joy for him when the owner came back to his flooded motorhome.....
Lived in Flensburg a few years ago. One day the level of the Baltic Sea rose (very seldom) and flooded a parking-lot. One (empty) car was not rescued in time. The water rose about 3 ft high in the car. It was winter. Very cold. And the car was frozen. A car dealer took a photo and some times later you saw the ad in the newspaper showing that frozen car. Subtitle: "The only [brand of car, don't know which], that did not start this winter"

Antelope Canyon: Saw the Antelope Canyon too at Google Earth. Great pictures to be found in the internet. And I learned that there are only guided tours due to the possibility of unexpected flooding.

MLCBFarrell,
Automatic transmission: My first car with automatic transmission was a Jeep Cherokee in 1988. Since then I never had a car w/o. The first time my wife drove the Jeep she pushed the brake pedal. Very hard. She wanted to turn left at a junction and wanted to press the clutch for a gear shift as she was used to do - and found the brake pedal. The car was new, the brakes were new: a very short breaking distance. She never drove that car again. Later she was happy about automatic transmissions: She had an injured left foot and was glad to drive my car. 
I drive my car with automatic transmission, my wife's car and rented motorhomes without automatic transmission.

Wipers on - lights on: I do so. A few years ago at a foggy day I met a passing forthcoming car driving without any light. Great Moment!

Speed: I live in the Black Forest. A wonderful landscape. Tourist often drive slowly to look around. Sometimes you see arm and hand of the driver pointing to a very, very lovely sight. Saw a police officer fishing the car out of traffic due to slow driving and provoking dangerous passing procedures.

Tom,
Traffic rules: Found some pages in the internet with traffic rules.
Turning right at a red light was impossible in Germany before East- and West-Germany were united. East-Germany had a sign that allows you to turn right at a red light. Now it is established in whole Germany.

Left hand drive: I am glad not to have to learn that. During my time at the Navy while NATO-training I was in the harbor of Portland, Dorset, UK. A few of our crew drove with a taxi to Weymouth (good music in great clubs). I sat besides the driver. A very weird feeling...
Mike Muellner
Bremerhaven, Germany

Lorna

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2007, 04:28:47 PM »
Tom

OK so I am dumb but what is the "dumb tourist" sign?
Lorna
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Tom

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2007, 04:32:25 PM »
Lorna,

You'll have to ask Chris to demonstrate it next time you see her.
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Lorna

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2007, 04:40:41 PM »
Tom

I will have to write it on my hand with marker or I will forget, you know CRS!
Lorna
Better to drive thy closet than pack thy suitcase
Want to know where we are?
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ArdraF

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2007, 06:43:58 PM »
Quote
there are only guided tours due to the possibility of unexpected flooding.

Mike,

Actually the "real" reason they have guided tours at Antelope Canyon is because it is on Navajo (native American or Indian) tribal land.  No one except Native Americans can go onto tribal lands without permission and/or a personal guide.  This is true even at some of our national parks or monuments, such as Betatakin and parts of Canyon de Chelly, because they are actually on tribal lands.  At Betatakin we took a ranger-led hike down into the canyon to see one of the ancient ruins and the ranger was a Navajo lady.  At Canyon de Chelly you can take 4WD adventures, but again, only with a guide.  At Canyon de Chelly they have specified certain trails where you can hike unaccompanied, but that's a small portion of the place.  These restrictions are in place so that unknowing or unthinking strangers don't desecrate sacred places.  Our ranger at Betatakin told us that Navajos believe old ruins are inhabited by the spirits of their ancestors (in this case the Anasazi) and that modern Navajos should respect their place and stay away.  Also, you should never take a photograph of our Native Americans without asking first (this is true in many countries).

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

Mike (ex-f-221)

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2007, 05:53:54 AM »
Carl,
Four Corners: Saw pictures of people with hands and foots in four states at the same time. Funny thing.

ArdraF,
Navajo: Thank you for the informations about native Americans/Navajo. Here we don't have tribal lands. So I have to learn about this - and I just started. Read about the "Navajo Parks and Recreation Department" in the internet and looked this video.

Photographing people: [...] you should never take a photograph of our Native Americans without asking first (this is true in many countries). Like the Amish people?  ???

Looking for states to see I picked up OR, UT, NV, AZ, CO, TX, FL. But the longer I read in books or in the internet the more places I find.
Why not GA? Just to see Jimmy Carter  :D
Why not ME? Must be a wonderful landscape
Why not TN? I love the music
(to be continued)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2007, 06:22:42 AM by Mike (ex-f-221) »
Mike Muellner
Bremerhaven, Germany

Carl L

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2007, 01:39:53 PM »
Quote
Looking for states to see I picked up OR, UT, NV, AZ, CO, TX, FL. But the longer I read in books or in the internet the more places I find.
Why not GA? Just to see Jimmy Carter 
Why not ME? Must be a wonderful landscape
Why not TN? I love the music

Let me again recommend the Eastern Sierra country of CA along US395.  CA is not all palm trees and big cities.   In fact over half our state is National Forest or Park, or public domain.   The Eastern Sierra Country is wild, scenic and uncrowded.  Great RVing, hiking, and fishing.   Check it out at http://www.thesierraweb.com/index.cfm

The Eastern Sierra country contains the highest point in the 48 contiguous states, Mt Whitney at 4,412 meters.   It also has the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, Badwater in Death Valley, at -86.0 meters.   That the two spots are 137 km from each other -- which says a lot about the geology of California. 
« Last Edit: May 17, 2007, 01:47:48 PM by Carl L »
Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

Prowler 23LV TT pulled by a '95 Ford Bronco

Mike (ex-f-221)

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2007, 11:09:40 AM »
The Eastern Sierra country contains the highest point in the 48 contiguous states, Mt Whitney at 4,412 meters.   It also has the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, Badwater in Death Valley, at -86.0 meters. That the two spots are 137 km from each other -- which says a lot about the geology of California. 

Very impressive, Carl.
Switched to Google Earth, marked Badwater and Mt. Whitney -  and saw another chain of mountains between the marked positions. Such as Cosco Peak, Cerro Gordo Peak and Telescope Peak (11.049 ft, next to Badwater).
Mike Muellner
Bremerhaven, Germany

Wendy

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2007, 11:39:57 AM »
Our ranger at Betatakin told us that Navajos believe old ruins are inhabited by the spirits of their ancestors (in this case the Anasazi) and that modern Navajos should respect their place and stay away. 

Anasazi:
Actually, the Navajo came long after the SW ruins were abandoned. Those who built these ruins are the ancestors of the pueblo tribes. Use of the terms "Anasazi" and "ruins" are now politically incorrect. "Anasazi" is a Navajo word that may mean "ancient ones" or "ancient enemies" and the pueblo people, descendants of the Anasazi, find the term insulting. Parks are now using "Ancestral Puebloans" when referring to the people who inhabited Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, etc. As for the "correct" term for "ruins," I haven't a clue what we should call them.

Death Valley in summer:
While working in Death Valley, we found that nearly all visitors in summer were from Europe. Most said that they came to the U.S. when they had their vacation time which typically fell in the summer. They all had guide books and all the guide books list "must see" places which include Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Death Valley. Makes for a good trip with DV between the other two. Few had any concept of what 50 degrees C felt like before visiting. Of course, few Americans have any concept of what 125+ degrees F feels like. I recall a German couple who traveled the back road (dirt) from Big Pine to north Death Valley and when they arrived at the Grapevine Ranger Station came in and told me that it was so hot and so deserted that they "were lucky to be alive."

Flash Floods:
The flash floods in Death Valley a couple of years ago moved the concrete vault restroom at Zabriskie Point. If you want to see pictures of what the power of water can do, check out this site http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/vef/projects/DeathValleyFloodSurvey.php
Always know where the high ground is when hiking in flash flood areas. Always have an escape route in mind.

[edit]To make link live. [/edit]
« Last Edit: May 18, 2007, 01:13:19 PM by Carl L »
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
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Wendy

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2007, 11:49:08 AM »
Telescope Peak is part of the Panamint Range, the western side of Death Valley. It's really cool to stand down at Badwater (-282 ft elevation) and look up at Telescope Peak (11,049 ft elevation), especially when there's water there and you get reflections of the peak. Then you turn around and look UP to the east where there's a sign that says SEA LEVEL.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
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2015 Allegro Ooen Road
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Carl L

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2007, 01:11:56 PM »
Quote
Death Valley in summer:
While working in Death Valley, we found that nearly all visitors in summer were from Europe. Most said that they came to the U.S. when they had their vacation time which typically fell in the summer. They all had guide books and all the guide books list "must see" places which include Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Death Valley. Makes for a good trip with DV between the other two. Few had any concept of what 50 degrees C felt like before visiting. Of course, few Americans have any concept of what 125+ degrees F feels like. I recall a German couple who traveled the back road (dirt) from Big Pine to north Death Valley and when they arrived at the Grapevine Ranger Station came in and told me that it was so hot and so deserted that they "were lucky to be alive."


Lucky indeed.  In August of 1996, four Germans took off for the Valley from Las Vegas...and disappeared. Their car was found in October of that year. The Germans were never found...except, I suspect, by the coyotes and vultures.   As I remember, they took the southern CA-78 route into the Valley -- 80 miles with no services or much of any thing else.

Death Valley is a huge basin set in the midst of the Great Basin Desert of the southwestern USA. Oriented north-south, it is about 120 miles (200 km) long, and 10-20 miles (15-30 km.) wide. The basin was created by downfaulting of the floor of the basin to a point over 3000 feet below the surrounding deserts. The downfaulting continues to the present day. Together with a similar area to the south, the Salton Sink, and to the north, the Carson Sink, Death Valley is believed by some geologists to represent the rifting of the North American continent and the development of new ocean extending from the Gulf of California northward to a line about 50 miles (83 km.) south of the northern border of California.

The passes into the Valley, which is bounded by mountain ranges, must ascend 1000-1500 feet (300 to 450 m.) and then descend some 1200-5000 feet (360 to 1500 m.) into the Valley. Leaving the Valley means a 4000-5000 foot ascent, which in the summer is through hellish heat.

Because the Valley is a active fault basin or rift zone and not a water-cut true valley, the topography takes on a nature unfamiliar to those from less violent geology and wetter climates. The canyons or valleys that enter the basin are narrowest at their mouths, so that a narrow canyon may drain a wide area above and tributary to it...a shape is rather like a wineglass with the canyon as the stem. Wineglass drainage can be seen most clearly in Titus, Golden, Mosaic, and Grotto Canyons. The canyons open onto great fans of silt, sand, gravel and boulders that spread below the mouths of the canyons and form aprons around the base of the mountain ranges.

Summer temperatures will range from 110 to 130°F (43-53°C). The record at Badwater is 134°F (56°C)! The ground is even hotter: 50 to 70°F (28-39°F) higher than the air temperature. The record for ground temperature in Death Valley is 201°F (93.8°C)! The measurement was on natural ground. A black asphalt roadway would measure than materially higher than that.

At temperatures over body heat (99°F or 37°C), the breezes are no longer cooling. In fact, they are hot blasts that serve to overheat the body by moving freshly heated air against it like the blast of a furnace. Therefore, at those temperatures, you cool yourself by staying out of the "breeze".

Death Valley has an annual rainfall of around 1-1/2 inches (3.81 cm.). In the summer there is no standing water, except for a few small springs. As a result the relative humidity ranges between 10% and 0%. The mountains and surrounding the Valley do experience tropical thunderstorms during the monsoon season of August and September. [Yes, the American Southwest does have a monsoon, in the form of extremely violent thunderstorms ranging up from the Gulf of California and the Sea of Cortez.] These thunderstorms can dump huge amounts of water on the drainage of a wineglass valley, the runoff piles up in the narrow canyon and shoots out into the dry washes in the fan in flash floods. The floods are violent enough to carry the boulders that you see on the outwash fans at the foot of the mountains.


Carl L/LA   [Forum Staff]  KI6SEZ

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Wendy

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Re: Death Valley - caution
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2007, 02:04:03 PM »
In August of 1996, four Germans took off for the Valley from Las Vegas...and disappeared. Their car was found in October of that year. The Germans were never found...except, I suspect, by the coyotes and vultures.   As I remember, they took the southern CA-78 route into the Valley -- 80 miles with no services or much of any thing else.

I'm guessing you mean CA-178? Runs from Pahrump to Shoshone? As for the Germans, they had to have left the road not to have been found for 2 months. All paved roads in DV are patrolled at least weekly all year and there are visitors and park employees driving all the roads all year long. It's an unusual day when there's no one on a given road. And the Shoshone-Pahrump road is very well traveled all year round.

Death Valley in summer is undeniably hot and dry but it is also a place of amazing beauty. People who use their brains do just fine there any time of the year. You don't travel without water, you don't go hiking at high noon, you keep your vehicle well maintained and you don't leave the traveled, maintained roads unless you know where you're going, what you're doing, and have left word of your travels with someone.
Wendy, Mike, and Gordon
~We can't be lost because we don't care where we're going~
Here's where we are http://map.datastormusers.com/user2.cfm?user=2276
2015 Allegro Ooen Road
1973 Sunshine Yellow VW Bug

 

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