Pahrump Airbnb

No photo (sorry Tater!)

As I wrapped up my 4 nights in Pahrump, Nevada – which I used as a base for my visits to Death Valley National Park, right across the state line in California, I decided it was worth a post to tell you about my accommodations there.  I have stayed in lots of Airbnb’s in the past 4 years and this stay was one of my favorites.  My hostess, KC, was an extremely nice person and she has a beautiful home which she opens up to others.  I met two other Airbnb guests while I was there and had interesting conversations with everyone.  Even KC’s chihuahua, Tater, got in the action and did her little “meerkat” impression by sitting up on her hind legs and “waving” with her front paws for attention.

KC’s home is warm and welcoming inside, and is beautifully landscaped outside – with several options for outdoor seating in the evenings when the temperature drops and it is pleasant to sit outside.  KC’s special touch are her homemade blueberry waffles, which she offers to all guests each morning.  Even though “bnb” is part of the name, Airbnb’s are technically not bed and breakfasts.  Most hosts offer coffee and tea, and perhaps fruit or a light snack, KC has waffles and mango/orange juice and now she has me totally spoiled!  And my total cost, after all fees and taxes, was only $43.21/night.

One of her guests was a gentleman from Idaho who was in town to attend a class at a high-end shooting range, which draws lots of people to Pahrump.  He was very tired from a day in the heat each evening when he got back to the house but we did get a chance to speak briefly each night and morning.  The other guest was a young lady from California who is in the process of moving to the area to open a coffee shop in nearby Amargosa.  She is originally from Tehran, Iran and performs traditional Middle Eastern Coffee Ground Fortune Readings, kind of like reading tea leaves.  She has already checked out the blog and entered my little contest, even before I posted the reminder yesterday while I was in the Park.

Airbnb is such a great way to meet interesting people and stay in some beautiful places.

Death Valley – Day 3 – Additional

Here are some photos from my final day in Death Valley National Park.  I stopped at the Visitor Center one last time (where I sent a post in real time showing the early morning temperature of 98 degrees at 847am).  Here are some shots from throughout the morning as I approached the Park, and as I drove west across the desert floor and exited the Park.




This was the temperature at 930am local time.




This area is called Devil’s Cornfield, and is pretty much in the center of the northern end of Death Valley proper.  Not corn, obviously, but I find it amazing that plant life has adapted and can survive in these harsh conditions.




These are the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes:



Stovepipe Wells Village

I stopped at Stovepipe Wells Village, which is a spot where the Rangers back at the Visitor Center told me I would probably have a cell phone signal (I posted the rattlesnake sign photo from there in real time yesterday morning).  It is a neat little village at the western edge of Death Valley proper.





And this is no mirage.  Yes, there is a swimming pool in Death Valley.  It is for the exclusive use of the guests of the cabins in Stovepipe Wells Village.  It was 1045am local time and there was only one person at the pool (sitting in the shade, at the extreme left of the photo).  He is a young chap from the UK and he and his buddy are spending 5 weeks visiting the United States.  They had already been up to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, where I will be very soon, and were staying in the Village.


Buon Giorno… and Ciao!

After I left Stovepipe Wells Village I continued driving west.  I stopped on a downhill slope to take some pictures and I noticed some people standing in the road, maybe a mile ahead of me.  When I resumed driving I reached them and discovered it was four young people who were posing in various scenarios in the road for pictures.  I turned around and went back to ask if they wanted a picture of all of them together.

Turns out they are from Italy and are visiting the US on holiday (I told them I have a friend in Durham who is in the US from Rome as a grad student at Duke University).  After I took pictures with their cameras I started to drive away, but stopped again and walked back to ask if I could get a photo for the blog.  They happily obliged.


And after that photo I continued driving west out of Death Valley… so I say Ciao!, leaving it behind for others to enjoy.


Charcoal Kilns side trip

After I left the western edge of Death Valley proper I continued west. Shortly after taking the photos in the post above this one I passed the 1,000 foot elevation marker, then 2, 3 and 4,000 feet. At that point I concluded I must have missed my turn. I wanted to turn left on a road which would take me out to the Charcoal Kilns.

I backtracked and figured out what had happened. Between the 1,000 and 2,000 feet markers I had stopped at a small rest area.


Without going into took much detail let’s just say I was releasing some of the copious amounts of water and Gatorade I had been drinking yesterday and today….

When I pulled back out on the road I looked left to make sure there wasn’t any traffic coming so I failed to see the sign:


The National Park Service generally does a great job marking roads, especially to landmarks. Well, they dropped the ball on this one. I had been keeping an eye out for Emigrant Canyon Road, a 26-mile road leading back to the former Charcoal Kilns, the major attraction at the end of that road. Well this sign only refers to Wildrose. Terrific. Even if I had seen the sign I wouldn’t have thought it was my turn. Wildrose is a small campground along that road, and it isn’t even called Wildrose Road. Any what about Thorndike and Mahogany Flat campgrounds? Why weren’t they included? And the sign doesn’t say boo about Charcoal Kilns.

Well, I drove back the road with the hope of seeing Charcoal Kilns. That hope was dashed when I learned that the final mile or two of the road are dirt and rock, a JohnBoy no go. I did try proceeding very slowly when I got past the “Pavement Ends” sign but it was just too rough and I didn’t want to take a chance ruining my relatively new Michelins, so after about a tenth of a mile I turned around.

Nevertheless I did get to see some pretty scenery, different from what I had been seeing the past few days.




This was a picture on an information sign which shows my intended destination:



This is one lone flower that was along the road at one spot:




And as I drove back out to the main road, this was my last look at Death Valley proper, way off in the distance. I was now over 2,000 feet up and the temperature, once I got away from the desert floor, was in the low 80’s. With a steady wind it was actually very pleasant.


Star Wars Canyon – Jedi Transition

This has to be, by far, the most exciting unexpected find I have come across in my four years of traveling across the United States. After stopping for lunch in Panamint Springs I continued west and climbed up a large mountain. At the top there is a Vista Point (overlook) called Father Crowley. This is at the very westernmost boundary of Death Valley National Park. From the overlook you may look down into Rainbow Canyon. I stopped there to take some photos and learned something VERY interesting….

This is looking west (left from the overlook) towards the top of the Canyon:


And these are looking east (right) from the overlook:




Before I stopped for lunch I saw a lone military jet making a low pass over the mountains in front of me (which I had now climbed to the top of) from north to south. When I got to the overlook I noticed a guy at the extreme east end with a camera on a tripod but just standing around, not actively taking pictures. I walked down and asked him what he was “stalking”. His response, and the video he showed me, totally blew me away.

Jet pilots, I presume from the nearby Naval Air Warfare Center training grounds (and perhaps even from Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas) call this “Star Wars Canyon”, and practice flying down into the canyon from left to right as seen in the photos above. I didn’t actually see this happen, but the guy showed me a video clip he had taken earlier in the afternoon. The plane descended well below where we were standing. When I got to Barstow I Googled it and found some amazing still photos. I then went on YouTube and found some even more amazing video clips.

Go to either of those sites and enter “Military jets Father Crowley” or “Star Wars Canyon” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And this is not confined to just small jets, there is a video of a C-130, a large 4-engine propeller driven plane, making the “Jedi Transition”. It is INCREDIBLE! If you watch the videos be sure to see a few where you see the plane way down in the Canyon, banking to the right. Some videos lose the plane soon after it goes in the Canyon.

You don’t know how tempted I am to go back up there today, but there is no guarantee of if or when the planes will make their runs. I waited around for a while yesterday but still had a several hour drive to get to Barstow before dark.

May the Force be with you!

Snow on the mountains

After I left Death Valley National Park on the west side I continued driving west to get to Route 395 in Olancha, which would take me south to Barstow, CA where I would be spending the night.  After being in temperatures well over 100 degrees for several days I thought I’d never see snow again, but I noticed a little bit of lingering snow on some of the mountains to my northwest and according to the AAA map of California, there is a string of 14’ers there – mountains higher than 14,000 feet elevation.  These peaks include Mt Langley (14,026), Mt. Whitney (14,494, the highest point in California) and Mt. Williamson (14,370).