DSC_0124SThe serenity, sweeping vistas, vast blue skies and warm climate make Death Valley a favorite during the winter months.  Each year in November it is the scene of the Death Valley 49ers Encampment where people come from near and far to celebrate the goldmining days. DSC_0182S DSC_0234S

The festivities are centered at the Furnace Creek Ranch, but take a short drive and you will find yourself in the beauty of the desert geology.

DSC_0240S DSC_0260SWith the sweeping desert floor below we enjoyed gazing out from Dante’s View. Below our perch sits Badwater, the famed spot where you can stand at the lowest point below sea level in North America and look up at Telescope Peak, some 11,049 feet in altitude.

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Each year, thousands of RVers descend on Death Valley for the Encampment.  We opt to camp at Texas Spring on the hill.  It’s a short drive to the festivities and although there are no hook ups, we prefer the solitude.  Below, across the street from the Ranch, hundreds of RVers camp within inches of each other.


(Above) parking lot type conditions.

DSC_0201S(Above) Texas Springs campground is rarely filled up.

Many activities continue throughout the weekend.  Crafts and artwork abound.DSC_0136S DSC_0127S

There is even a gold panning contest. DSC_0139S

Entertainment is unique featuring cowboy ballads, yodeling and fiddling.  Below Alan takes an opportunity to pose with singer Mary Kaye.  Can you believe she has 10 children?


When the sun gets too much, a swim in the spring-fed pool at Furnace Creek Ranch is called for:DSC_0141S On Saturday morning, the highlight is the 49er parade.  This year, E Clampus Vitus was in the lead! DSC_0148S DSC_0152SLeaving Death Valley we headed to Tecopa Hot Springs and met this fella on the way:  a rather healthy looking coyote.


COOLPOOLOnce in Tecopa we read a sign indicating that bathing suits are not allowed!  We drove to a nearby lake to do a little birding.DSC_0297S Near Tecopa we spent some time at China Ranch where we birded along the creek and bought date nut bread in the store.

DSC_0313S DSC_0324SLeaving Tecopa we headed for Joshua Tree, making a stop at the Kelso Station just in time to photograph 2 trains passing through, thankfully on different tracks!  We watched this station deteriorate for years and are so pleased to re-visit now that it has been renovated to its former glory.  It is now the headquarters for the East Mojave National Preserve


Camping a night at Jumbo Rocks we were greeted by a magnificent sunset which cast a glow on the boulders around us..

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It was time to head home, but the picture-perfect weather and beauty of the desert would not let us go.  We spent our last night at the Salton Sea where dozens of white pelicans entertained us.

DSC_0393-2S DSC_0386-2S DSC_0402SOk, no more excuses…it’s time to head home and face real life.  But we feel empowered to handle the stress after almost a week in the desert.