Spring Break – a week of many firsts

We decided to go camping for our Spring vacation in March 2013.  We went to Bishop, CA (just south of Mammoth Mountain, but definitely warmer than where we are from) for a few days and then we went into Death Valley National Park for a few days.

Some of the firsts:


– First time Pepper (8 month old Golden Retriever puppy) slept outside (you could tell she was nervous with the different sounds, etc).  We took her portable crate and set it up right outside the tent and chained her to the truck.  You could tell she wasn’t happy since in the morning she would try to get her nose into the tent zipper so we would allow her in the tent.  (I think this is what added to our zipper breaking – see below.)


– First time Pepper went on long hikes and she did well with her doggy backpack (she carried her own foldable water bowl, a few doggy cookies and some plastic bags).  The spot in the left (above the horizontal line [dirt road]) is our truck.  Pepper did good hiking up and down that trail.


– First time my family officially went bouldering (rock climbing without the ropes).  Our daughter has started enjoying rock climbing and there are some places near Bishop, CA which are famous for bouldering (some friends go down a lot so they loaned us a crash pad and a book with routes to take on the rocks).

Eureka Sand Dunes, Death Valley

– First time we drove into Death Valley National Park on the dirt/graded road from Big Pine, CA (about 2.5 hours to the Mesquite Campground and it goes by the 700 ft Eureka Sand Dunes).  Pepper and I stayed at the truck since she is not allowed on trails, etc in National Parks (she had to stay in the campground, on dirt roads or near the paved roads).

– First time we camped in Mesquite Campground (north end of Death Valley near Scotty’s Castle).  We had a couple of days/nights with high winds (storm heading into California, but it didn’t get to us) – the tent poles are luckily built to bend or our tent probably would not have stayed up.  (We heard from a neighbor that the campground was flooding the previous week due to the rain.  I guess we should be thankful we only had the wind.)

– First time our tent got a rip in it and the first time the zipper broke.  We think the tent ripped when we moved it from our first campsite (on the inside of a loop and closer to the restrooms) to the campsite on the outside edge of the park -less people walking close to our tent and no mouse running through the campsite in the evening like we had the first night 🙂 .  Pepper was much calmer the second and third nights.  The rip has already been fixed and replacing the zipper is on my ‘To Do’ list before our next camping trip.  We realized our tent is about 20 years old so that is not bad.  I don’t think replacing the zipper will be hard, but I will report after it is finished.

Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

– First time we went to the Racetrack playa (2.5 hour drive each way on a dirt road from the Mesquite Campground).  The racetrack is where rocks mysteriously move on the playa and leave a trail behind them (no one has ever seen them as they moved, just the path after the fact).  This was another place Pepper and I had to stay at the truck.  Luckily we parked in such a way that we stayed in the shade the whole time.

Rhyolite, Ghost Town, Death Valley– First time we went to Rhyolite (old ghost town between Beatty, NV and Death Valley National Park).  We were able to walk Pepper around the town.  There even is a house that  was made from old glass bottles.

We had a good Spring Break.  We did come home a day early since the wind was so high the tent was bending/making noise all night long for two nights.  Also, after driving on all of the dirt roads everything was DUSTY.  If it could not be thrown in the washing machine it had to be wiped off or have the air compressor blow it clean.

We have had two flat tires on our truck since we bought it (1998) both on dirt roads.  The first one was years ago and we were a long way away from anything and the spare was low on air.  Luckily we made it to a very small town and they loaned us an air compressor.


This time we got one coming back from the Racetrack playa.  A family heard the noise and stopped us (they had gotten a flat tire on the way into the Racetrack playa).  This was the first time we had a shredded tire.  Luckily the spare was full of air, etc so we didn’t have a problem putting it on.  We went out to Beatty, NV and the tire place had an used tire (our size!) that we bought for $30 as our spare.  The place told us that they get about two vehicles a week coming in that had a flat tire from the Racetrack playa road so we were not alone.

What adventures have you taken lately?  -H


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