November 16-18, 2017
As the weather deteriorated at Alabama Hills, in other words snow on the Sierras, it was time to get to warmer climate like Death Valley at or below sea level. But their is that matter of CA190 east climbing not one but two mountain ranges to get there.
Followed by a desert wind on the nose with sandy salts flowing across the road from Lake Owens. The first pass over the Inyo Mountains helped reduce the wind. Sure glad I didn’t need fuel in Panamint Springs at $4.99/gal for diesel.
Then a wicked south wind in Panamint Valley nearly knocked me off the road with a sand blasting strong enough to obliterate much of the view. Remember this is blowing on the side of the camper like a billboard going down the road and on the fridge side so the pilot blew out.
Stayed the first night at Texas Springs, my favorite of all the parking lot campgrounds in the park. After snagging my campsite I took the Artists Drive which was closed last winter and is now newly paved with maybe some more parking areas along the one way road.
The tent area was filling fast along the northern edge of this parking lot camp. Because I’m considered a RV I can’t park along that side but can be nearby along a curb. So I paid for a tent site, hung the receipt and hunkered in watching the dust and sand fly up the valley to the east. It appeared to be moving north away from me but then turned and headed towards camp. I closed the door and windows and hung on tight. Even inside the camper felt like a sand storm. People were grabbing and abandoning tents for their cars. Like a haboob I guess. Not a great day to take photos.
Jeremy got in after dark, took me to dinner, stayed up most of the night watching meteors—saw 11 of them—and in the morning slept in his car instead of fighting the wind to set up his tent.
The next day we visited the recently reopened Keane Wonder Mine with it’s unique mile-long aerial tramway. https://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/historyculture/keane-wonder-mine.htm