Death Valley Thanksgiving

Overlanerd

Vagabond Outdoors
After a cancelled DV trip last year, we decided to come through in 2008. Neither my wife or I had ever been to Death Valley before, and I somehow convinced her that the Scout wouldn't leave us stranded...

After wrenching heavily on the Scout one year ago, I completely stopped in February after our landlord told us the rental was going into foreclosure. The project immediately went to the back burner. The Scout was stored at my father-in-law's shop from May to September and the Scout went untouched. We lived with the in-laws for a few months and finally closed escrow in August. The Scout didn't come to the new place until September. Our house has been the focus lately and I frantically started working on the truck again, one week before the trip.

We left late Thanksgiving morning and decided to work- out the bugs/ packing situation between San Leandro and Bakersfield. Not the best idea. Our first night was spent in Red Rocks State park. We didn't spend much time there and headed out early to DV the next morning.

After stopping over in Stovepipe Wells to refuel, we headed out to Chloride Canyon for the night. The wind was a howlin' and the box was swaying. Aerodynamic, shmerodynamic!
We had to relocate to a more protected site after nightfall. Good thing that it only takes 2 minutes to break- down camp...
The trail was fairly technical, especially in the dark. Needless to say, I couldn't convince my wife to get- out and snap pictures with the 40 mph wind factor.



Out the back way and into Nevada to 95





Back onto paved roads for 3 miles to the entrance of Titus Canyon. The 1st gear, low-range, 5 mph technical- crawling on Chloride Canyon Road made me think that the vehicle was relatively rattle- free and secure. Those thoughts went out the window when I hit the washboard surface of Titus Canyon Road...

This was taken when I pulled over to let a Ford Focus pass me...



Titus Canyon was awesome, but the days are short when you head- out late. We drove through 1/2 the canyon at dusk. We'll have to see the colors next year.



Upon hitting Scotty's Castle Road, a sign informed us that they had no gas. We reluctantly headed back to Stovepipe Wells. I’m a big fan of loops and hate backtracking when possible. When I pulled into the station at Stovepipe, it felt like my parking brake was on and the air reeked of burning pads. The front hub was untouchably hot, so we decided to camp there for the night.

I took apart the hub Sunday morning to discover a blown-out inner wheel bearing. Good times. My wife wanted to go with plan AAA, but I opted for plan B.





After sarcastically asking the gas- station clerk where the nearest Kragen was, he informed me that I was screwed. I pondered giving a Ridgecrest- bound stranger money to buy a wheel bearing, and he could pass it on to a DV- bound stranger. If only the world was that perfect… The clerk said that the hotel manager was about to head into Ridgecrest and would return the next morning. Bingo! A few calls later and the wheel bearings (2 inner and 2 outer- just in case), and a big tub-o-grease, were on hold.

In the meantime, we took the long walk to Mosaic Canyon.






Then the nearby dunes the next morning.






The hotel manager returned the next day at noon with the goods. We’re sending that guy a Christmas card.
 

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DiscoveryXD

Adventurer
That's great. I love the picture of the pooch too, looks like quite the character.

I've never been to death valley, but am planning on going for a bit in Feb. with some friends. Looks like a really cool place.
 
DiscoveryXD said:
That's great. I love the picture of the pooch too, looks like quite the character.

I've never been to death valley, but am planning on going for a bit in Feb. with some friends. Looks like a really cool place.
Yes it is an awesome place. Plenty of rich history mixed with absolute natural beauty.

And yes like others have said, that last picture is priceless.
 

FourByLand

Expedition Leader
Scoutsider said:




The hotel manager returned the next day at noon with the goods. We’re sending that guy a Christmas card.
Right on!!!

We a had a group out in the park around the same time and heard you guys where making your way through there. Thanks for sharing your story and it's good to see the Scout back on the road!!!

:lurk:
 

kcowyo

ExPo Original
Phil, it was really nice to bump into you and Wendy, on the Saline Valley Road.

As soon as your Scout came into view in the distance, I recognized it from here. You've built a really unique and classic outfit. Looks perfect in Death Valley. There are worse places to be stranded for a couple of days.

Glad you two made it home safely. I know we both had a long drive that night. Great pics so far, looking foward to more.

- KC

Maybe again sometime.... :campfire:


 

Overlanerd

Vagabond Outdoors
Death Valley Thanksgiving- Part II

Thanks for the comments! I have to give it to KC for inspiring me to "reconnect" to the forum and Sean (Silverscout) for suggesting that I write a review.


And on with the story...

I didn’t have all of the right tools, but I had many to improvise with: a fine-tipped set of needle-nosed pliers as snap-ring pliers, a hammer & punch as the hydraulic press, and a “shot in the dark” as the torque wrench. I even used a chisel and mallet to tighten the spindle nuts... We were on our way a few hours later.

It was getting late, so we skipped the Castle for the Crater.







The junction.



Wendee and I noticed a large wet spot at the ground, next to the junction. I stuck my pinky in it and smelled it, Miami Vice style. It was pure, pure hydraulic oil. We followed a fluid trail of around the junction. Judging from the oil trail, it looked like someone stopped, backed up, turned around, and sped off towards the Hidden Valley. The trail of oil turned to drops and disappeared. We contemplated going after them, but we had mechanical issues of our own. I hope no one was left stranded.

On these brutal washboard roads, do you go 8 mph or 35 mph? The Scout didn’t seem to like anything in between. Traveling alone, and given the mechanical history of the vessel, we opted for 8 mph.

We camped overnight at Homestake and were the only ones there.



The Racetrack Playa was really interesting.



Lippincott Mine Road was technical at times. The Terra-low gears really helped. I only had to use the brakes a few times during the 6 mile descent.



The view was great.



Saline Valley Road surprised us with a Pine forest. The crest, between Saline & Panamint Valley, was a perfect stopping place.



An F-18 flew right over us. I was too slow on the draw and didn’t get a great picture. That flea-sized spec, in the middle of the picture, is the F-18 leaving us.



Upon hitting 190, I stopped to perform a vehicle inspection, unlock the hubs, and stretch before hitting the highway. During the 10 minutes we were sitting there, only 2 vehicles went by: one motorcycle, and one somewhat familiar, expedition- ready T100. The guy in the T100 approached and yelled something like, “Hey I know you! I’m on the portal!” It was KC (KCOWYO). What are the chances...

We introduced ourselves and discussed travel plans. He was coming from San Diego and off to 3 days at the hot springs. I was on my way back to the grind. It was a great way to exit Death Valley and motivated me to connect to other people who enjoy venturing off the beaten path.

The rest of the trip was uneventful. Truck stops, gas, coffee, and many hours in a slow truck on a fast road.
 

FourByLand

Expedition Leader
Depending on the conditions of the road I usually do 35 - 45, you also have to take into account the condition of the vehicle and the suspension you have also.

Sounds like you guys took it nice and easy. Smart.

Looks like a fun machine you have there.
 

Overlanerd

Vagabond Outdoors
Dune Dog

SPertierra said:
The picture of your dog on the dune is fantastic.
Ursidae69 said:
What a great photo and a heck of a great story so far
DiscoveryXD said:
That's great. I love the picture of the pooch too, looks like quite the character.
Streakerfreak said:
And yes like others have said, that last picture is priceless.
FourByLand said:
Right on!!!
Thanks for the comments. A few seconds after we took that pic, Cooper rolled over and slid 1/2 way down the dune on his back. It looked like the best backscratch ever.

Funny coincidence: As we were entering Mosaic Canyon, we ran into the creater of a website:

www.theunexpectedpitbull.com

Her website was created to help "combat the negative stereotypes of pittsbulls". She asked us to send us pics of Cooper, thus inspiring the shot.

kcowyo said:
Phil, it was really nice to bump into you and Wendy, on the Saline Valley Road.

As soon as your Scout came into view in the distance, I recognized it from here.
It was good meeting you too, KC. To tell you the truth, I didn't know who you were at first. I haven't spent much time on the forum lately. As soon as I heard "Wyoming", the image of your 4WC Avatar popped into my head. I finally connected the dots after we parted ways. If only I possessed a flux capacitor and the Scout could go 88 mph...

I hope you had fun in DV and can't wait to hear about it on your thread. After reading about your trip, I wished Wendee and I had called in sick on Wednesday and joined you & Mia in Saline Valley. Maybe next year...
 

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Storz

Explorer
Incredible write up and photos, this website keeps me going through long days of cubicle boredom!
 
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