Winter Break 1999
November 24 ~ 30

We pack up our new Subaru powered Vanagon for our first Official camping trip. Time to settle in and figure out where everything goes. Things like shoes, binoculars, tools, food, clothes, books and espresso maker! A six day Thanksgiving weekend before us.

We hit the road at a reasonable hour Wednesday, November 24th, and zip over the coastal range, cross the central valley and head up into the hills towards Reno, Nevada. We find a place to pull off just after dark and call it a night alongside hwy 20 high in the Sierras. I get out my portable catalytic heater and soon we are cozy and reading our books. Vacation had definitely started.

In the morning we head out and zip over Donner Pass.

With the two stock heaters in the bus, one under the dash and one under the bench seat, we, for the first time experience wintertime VW driving without having to wear stocking hats, gloves, boots, coats and lap blankets!! Lolli even asks me to "turn down the heat"!! Amazing!

But snow is not our idea of a good time and so it is time to "get low". We zip around Lake Tahoe, up and over Monitor Pass and then down to hwy 395.

Evening finds us parked in a meadow close to one of our favorite hot springs. The tub is empty so I start the filling process. By 9:00 in the evening the tub is half full but 134 degrees! No wonder it is called the Lobster Cooker! I will fine tune it in the morning.

We have a clear cold night with the temperature getting down to 14 degrees!! In the morning I find

an icicle below the refrigerator vent on the bus. The moisture in the propane heat for the refrigerator was condensing out and dripping on the side of the bus!

But, never mind.

Soon I am in the tub with my coffee, my dog waiting for me to throw the ball she had just dropped in the water. 106 degrees. Perfect! In the background, our bus and the Sierras.

A beautiful day coming on but time to head for the desert.

Away we go and zip through Bishop, Lone Pine and Big Pine. We decide to head for Panamint Valley. When we get to the bottom of that valley we take the dirt road to the north and camp up the alluvial fan towards the 4 Star mine.

80 degrees during the day; 40's at night! We spend two days and nights at this spot and take long walks up to the mine and out across the desert to inspect the brush and rocks. Not much left of the mine except evidence of a lot of hard work. I hurry back to the bus so I can sit down and read a book!

After our second night we pack up, rattle back out to the highway and zip up and over and down into Death Valley. We stock up on supplies at Furnace Creek and then cruise down and out the south end, up over Jubilee Pass to Tecopa Hot Springs. After showers and a soak we find our spot for the night overlooking the Dumont Sand Dunes.

More serious book reading and quiet walks through the desert and in the morning it is time to start heading home.

Down to Baker, over to Barstow, then Mojave, Bakersfield and part way up I-5 before we call it a night. Light rain coming down as we park a ways off from the freeway under some cotton wood trees. A farmer disked his field all night with halogen lights on his tractor! Fortunately he was far enough away that it didn't bother our sleep.

November 30th at 4:00 in the afternoon we are back home, rain coming down. 1,640 miles on the odometer. The Vanagon/Subaru ran great; never missed a beat! We really like the arrangement of the camping set-up in our new bus. Very comfortable and roomy. We are happy campers but...

That's it for camping this century!

Next event should be "Spring Break 2000". E-ha!

Click here for the continuing story.

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