DEATH VALLEY CALIFORNIA

DEATH VALLEY 2019 TRAVELS

We sadly departed Alabama Hills BLM Land and headed over Highway 190 through the Panamint pass, with a 8% grade entering Death Valley. At the very top of the pass a turnout called Father Crowley Vista Point is worth a stop. Just about the time we got out of our truck to enjoy the view fighter jets decided to put on a show of a lifetime for us and before our eyes the jets flew deep in the canyon yet so close to us you could almost see the pilots eyes. The canyon wasn’t straight and to witness the skill of the pilots was spectacular, this went on for over 30 minutes.. From this point on make sure your brakes are good and use your gears, as it is 8 miles at a 8 percent grade yet very scenic.

 We have now arrived at the floor of Death Valley, today it is 82 degrees, I can tell you we are not use to heat and it feels so warming and nice. We arrive at Sunrise  Camp ground with no one to check you in at the kiosk, it’s kind of cool you go to a self-check in stations ( which are scattered everywhere)  enter your information, slide your credit card and presto you go find a site anywhere you want as it is first come first serve.  The fees are $7.00 a night golden age and $14.00 regular. Totally dry camping, you do get very clean restrooms, water and free sewer dump.  Generators allowed with regulated operating hours. The camp hosts are amazing so friendly and helpful. In addition while we visited it was quiet, well except for the howling of the coyote’s, we chose camp site L1 with a vista view of the Funeral Mountains.

After settling in, we immediately head to the visitor’s center for maps, weather info and info on ranger talks. There is a lot to see and do from trail hiking, biking, arches to view and miles and miles of salt beds Ninety-one percent of Death Valley is designated wilderness, you must use common sense exploring this vast land. Before setting off on trails or roadways the park recommends one gallon of water, a day per person is required and you must stay on all trails and roadways. There are overly  friendly coyote’s you must not feed, sidewinder rattlesnakes that burrow under the rocks and sand waiting for kangaroo rats and the cutest burrows that bite and love to block traffic.

PS: Texas Spring is another campground with the same amities. Across the roadway is Furnace Creek Camp Ground with full amities if you desire.

The lonely Burrow

Join us on our next adventure to Lake Mead, maybe the weather will let us launch our kayak and do some water exploring.

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND – JEFF AND LIZ 

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ALABAMA HILLS CALIFORNIA

THE ALABAMA  HILLS

This destination has been on our bucket list for some time, now that we have arrived it is has been well worth the very scenic drive. Alabama Hills is BLM land, with wide open spaces and very large rock formations that look like they could come alive at any minute. Over 400 motion pictures, TV shows and commercials have been filmed here.  Ironically as you enter the area, the roadways name is  movie road. You can obtain a detailed map at the Eastern Sierra Mountain Visitors Center. 

There is a selected few dry camping spots as the BLM is re thinking the usage of the area and in the future may eliminate the free camping. This is due to heavy usage and the destruction of the plants and land. There is two designated camping sites with fees and not much amenities.

Located in the city of Lone Pine, The Museum of Western Film History is worth a stop. For a $5.00 donation the museum includes a history documentary on the film history of the Alabama hills and over 40 on going exhibits containing memorabilia and information about westerns from the earliest days of the silent screen to some of the latest. The staff also offer tours of the Alabama Hills showing you special film locations.

Next stop 15 miles up the roadway is a Internment Camp Museum called MANZANAR. Extremely well presented with actual buildings you can tour and artifacts that humble you. This is a national historic site. Give yourself at least two hours for touring the museum and camp. There is also a drive around the perimeter of the camp with stops along the way. A must see.

Please join us on our next adventure at Death Valley California

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND

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RED ROCK CANYON CALIFORNIA

I was born and raised in California, everyone I have spoken to about our next adventure have never heard of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Its actually on the way to The Alabama Hills so why not, let’s explore one of California’s least known State Parks. We took Highway 58 from Bakersfield toward Mohave and North on Highway 14, in a little over 20 miles of pure desert you begin to travel into a different land. WOW- you would think you were in the middle of a Indiana Jones movie. In fact many movies, videos and commercials have been filmed here.

Most of the campsites are nestled into the brown cliffs and at night the camp fires danced literally off of the rocks. These fluted brown folds are the result of wind and rain eroding the softer materials. Very nice hiking trails, a beautiful nature walk which starts at the Visitor Center..

Restrooms are very clean with a $20.00 dump site fee. Camp fees are $23.00 a night with a $2.00 discount for seniors. Dry Camping includes tables and a fire pit with spectacular views.

On a personal note we could have stayed here a long time, the campground was extremely quiet with just the sounds of coyotes and the breathtaking hiking trails really ticked alot of our personal boxes. Would highly recommend.

Please join us for our next adventure in The Alabama Hills – see you there!!!

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND – JEFF AND LIZ

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Napa Valley Wine Country

The first thing that comes to my mind as we begin to see beautiful rolling hills and majestic vineyards is Calistoga water, The French Laundry and the CIA at Greystone. Napa Valley is a culinary mecca of the finest dining and wines set in the most beautiful valley and climate. We are on our winter journey exploring as we go and this was a must stop. Pulling our 25 foot trailer and trying to visit the beautiful Napa Valley Wine country is a little tricky. So what do you do, you head to The ELKS Lodge (if you're lucky enough to be members) and pay $35.00 a night for full hook-ups, bocce ball ,horseshoes,BINGO NIGHT and of course a full bar. Now that we are parked in a gated and locked secure campground we can venture out to explore the beautiful wine country at a leisure pace.

Visiting the Culinary Institute Of America (CIA) was definitely a culinary dream of ours, we are definitely foodies and this is the place to tour. From the massive carved doors when you enter, the italian architecture and the aromas from the hi tech kitchens we were in culinary heaven. A self guided tour allows you to see years of antique wine stoppers to kitchen equipment which will bring back many memories. I can’t tell you how many items we saw that our moms or grandmas had, very fun. After you are finished with your tour you have to find the CIA’S restaurant and BAKERY.

FIRST STOP: THE CIA

Homemade baguettes, stone ground bread to chocolate hazelnut tarts all made to perfection what a treat. With so much to choose from we opted for a chocolate tart and a expertly made Illy Espresso. We then had to sample their handmade chocolate truffles and maybe take home a calamita olive focaccia bread and a whole wheat stone ground loaf of bread. Yes we went a little carb crazy. We will walk it off right!

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Of the over 500 wineries in Napa Valley, the Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga California is a unique winery and a must see. We purchased the premium tour which lets you visit the dungeons, the torture room and the underground barrel rooms. We each got to taste 5 unique and delicious wines and an additional wine tasting right out of an oak barrel. We are not wine experts but do appreciate a fine glass of wine and as we tasted we were to judge each tasting. We found ourselves rating them all 10’s as EVERY TASTING was some of the best wine we have ever experienced. We had to hold back and only purchase 2 of our favorites but could have purchased all of them. We highly recommend the tour as the castle itself was Dario Sattui’s dream in which he kept the Italian theme. The style of the castle, the vast grounds and their wines make you feel you are in the heart of Italy.

Our next winery exploration was CHATEAU MONTELENA. Now there is madness behind finding this winery as it is the winery they made the movie BOTTLE SHOCK. Its a fascinating story about a struggling little winery back in 1976 that just happened to have one of the finest wines in the USA and needed to prove their excellence to the established French vintners. The grounds of the Chateau are all original and are featured in the movie. What a beautiful winery and their wine well you’ll need to watch the movie and sample some of their finest wine, let’s say we were in wine heaven.

Until our next adventure, thanks for following my blog and CHEERS from JEFF AND LIZ

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY TO ALL

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Redwood National Park CALIFORNIA

From Brookings, Oregon and a mere 30 mile drive the Redwoods begin. Large and empowering giants standing guard on the edges of the Redwood Highway with vista views of the Pacific Ocean. What a beginning to our next ADVENTURE.

You are in Redwood National Park. If you travel north of Elk Country RV park past Berry Glen and turn west on Newton B Drury scenic parkway and stop at the combined California state park and national park visitors center. You can then proceed for 10 miles of amazing redwood trails and vistas.

NOTE: We hadn’t expected that all of the National Parks throughout our journey would be closed due to Political issues, so our adventure was condensed. The National and State Park volunteers and Rangers are so accommodating and helpful they want you to have a wonderful experience in spite of political issues. The main trails to lots of huge Redwoods were closed, Visitor Centers and some restrooms depending on if they fell under State or Federal.

Despite the closers we did get to see a lot of The Redwoods and many large trees and definitely felt the Redwood experience.

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Until Our Next Adventure – Cheers from JUST AROUND THE BEND 

NEXT STOP NAPA VALLEY CALIFORNIA

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ELKS Club Camping – Brookings Oregon

We rolled into Brookings, Oregon heading for Harris Beach State Park. Ok, no we did not have reservations and yes, it was a major holiday weekend and yes, they were full. So, we retreated to our second backup idea, which was The Elks. With 20 sites available and only 3 other RV’s in the parking lot, we were delighted.

Amenities were many: all paved parking, water and electric included and with a very nice RV dump station, all for a donation of $20.00 a night. With a beautiful view of the ocean, it was perfect.

NOTE: You do need to be a club member, which I would highly recommend.

After settling into our very private and quiet campsite we returned to Harris Beach view point to explore the well known tide pools and walk the beaches. It was spectacular!

We were very fortunate that the weather was 47 degrees, no wind and clear skies. Exploring the town of Brooking was fun and enjoyable. I also highly recommend Harris Beach Campground, (with reservations) which is located above the ocean with beautiful views.

Our next Adventure is Elk Country RV Resort in California

CHEERS FROM JUST AROUND THE BEND

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Grand Teton National Park

Words haven’t been designed to explain the beauty of the Tetons. We have traveled to a lot of amazing National Parks, for this one Jeff and Liz are finally out of words to describe.

We left Phillips Lake campground where if you remember we met up with are goods friends and camped. Jeff with his traveling brilliance came up with a great idea of since we were already halfway to The Grand Tetons, why not just head that way. Long story short we did just that and now here we are camping at Gros Ventre Campground – site B99, just spectacular. At $15.00 a night (golden age pass) we stayed for a glorious 13 days. Now this is dry camping, so our solar really came in handy as the nights got down into the high thirties. But the views from every angle were priceless. Gros Ventre is just yards from the Snake River and sometimes inches from Bull Moose. Gros Ventre Campground has over 300 first come, first serve sites with one loop of full hookup ,one for employees only, one tent only no generators and one group Loop. Always Remember National Parks have strict rules on pets so check regulations before you come. BE BEAR AWARE. Bring bear spray and carry it at all times. It is much cheaper to buy at home than in the Tetons.

So much to do, the pristine bike trails are a must and kayaking the many lakes as well as the Snake River will leave you with endless memories. A word to the wise..hit the lakes and trailheads early which means by 8 am.Those happy campers can clog a parking lot like a bird getting the early worm. You can find yourself parking on the road side where allowed and hiking an extra mile or more to the trailhead parking lot. Also the best photo opportunities of nature and wildlife are early. Moose and Bears are not much for luncheons. Our Bull Moose showed up at 5:30 am by our campground and left by 7:00 am for the river wilds.

If you get burnt out of nature things to do there is always the town of Jackson to explore.You can shop, eat and drink to your heats content. Jackson is very popular, traffic and parking are a challenge. We did find some great Bakeries, Ice cream and really enjoyed Snake River Brewery which had a lot of healthy choices of pub food which we found to be much better than our local Bend Oregon Breweries. The town also has numerous Art Galleries and Museums.

Until our next adventure – CHEERS from JUST AROUND THE BEND _ Jeff and Liz