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Death Valley

Hank – We left Tahoe early since we had a six hour drive ahead of us to a campground in Death Valley National Park. The drive on US Hwy 395 south through various national forests, mountains, and high valleys was gorgeous. Topaz Lake and Mono Lake are beautiful. The roads going into Yosemite are still closed due to snow so this is another place we need to return to.

Death Valley is quite breathtaking. Again, like the Arizona desert it’s beautiful but it’ll kill you, too. The temp was in the 80s when we arrived. We got a campsite at Sunshine Campground. There are so many overflow areas there that you have a 99.9% chance of getting a site. But it’s pretty basic. You get water and a bathroom. Quite a few of the RV campers had generators. Those had to be turned off at 9:00 pm.

I elected to put up the tent and sleep there instead of in the van. Kathy chose the van because she thought the temp was going to drop a lot and it would be warmer there. She was half right.

A little after 10:00 pm a strong wind came up and almost flattened the tent. I didn’t stake the corners down because the ground is hard packed gravel. Consequently, I had tent wall and sometimes tent floor blowing into my face. I grabbed my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow and other small items and opened up the side door to the van. Kathy had just fallen asleep and my rude awakening was disorienting for her. Once she caught on that the winds were bad we rearranged everything to make room for me. Breaking down the tent was fun because we had to keep all the parts from blowing away. I wadded it up after collapsing all the poles and stuffed it in the front seat.

The van was too warm so we left the side door open. Then the rain started so we had to close up. I cracked open the tailgate and used the tent poles to keep it from completely closing. That let a breeze in and helped cool us off. I tossed and turned for a couple hours and then slept fitfully until 7:00. Kathy didn’t sleep much better.

In the morning we had a light breakfast and hit the road. We stopped by Zabriskie Point and took in some great sights of the surrounding terrain. Hikers were out and about. This is another place we need to return to.

In Las Vegas we checked in and then relaxed during the evening. Tomorrow, our two sons and one daughter-in-law join us here for a long weekend. We are looking forward to spending time with them.

Kathy – Lake Tahoe was just as majestic as everyone has told me over the years. I’m looking forward to coming back to this area to do some hiking in the future. The drive out of Lake Tahoe and into Death Valley allowed us to see some absolutely stunning landscapes. We saw so many breathtaking mountains. We climbed up and down mountain areas the entire day. We varied from 7,500 feet to down below sea level. The snow capped mountains at higher elevations and the desert mountain areas as we descended were totally amazing. It is hard to believe, but very time you looked in a different direction you would see something even more beautiful than you saw before. I took hundreds of photos and now I have to sort though them and only pick a few for this blog post. It’s a hard life choosing. 😊 Hank and I definitely want to return to Death Valley National Park to do some hiking there as well. It really was an absolutely gorgeous drive.

We spent the night in Death Valley and then drove the last two hours to Las Vegas, Nevada. We are meeting Geoff, Josh and Amanda there for the weekend. So looking forward to seeing them. I’m sad Steph cannot join us because she has to work. We will miss her. Our plan is to get a little hiking in just outside of Vegas and then wing it for the rest of the weekend. Excited for a fun weekend with the kids. 💗

A couple of notes…

If you would like to view older blog entries please click on the months below:

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Folsom Prison and Lake Tahoe

Hank – We said goodbye to Joanie and Eric this morning. Again, we’re very thankful and blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives. First we went to the Folsom State Prison Museum, which is located right at the gate to the prison. The building is far too small to accommodate all the artifacts and exhibits, but it’s a good place to visit nonetheless. The prison was hand built by prisoners who quarried the granite on site, cut the blocks to size, and then placed them.

Interesting bits of trivia:

The Last Supper painting in the chapel was painted in 1938 by an inmate. The thirteen faces on the painting are allegedly of murderers who were incarcerated in the prison at the time the painting was done.

Rick James (remember Super Freak?) spent three years in Folsom prison. The guitar he played while there is on display in the museum.

Johnny Cash recorded two albums in Folsom prison. When you listen to Folsom Prison Blues on the 1968 album the prisoners whooped and hollered when he sang the lyrics about killing a man just to watch him die. That was added in post production because the prisoners were careful not to do such a thing because they feared the guards would retaliate.

After checking out the museum we parked closer into town and pulled the bikes out. We rode the Johnny Cash Trail and connected to other paved trails for about an hour or so. We went to Folsom Lake and went around the prison along the American River canyon. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Wild turkeys were out. Peacocks were making a racket in a nearby neighborhood. And lots of people were out riding, walking, and running on the trails.

The Johnny Cash Trail is raising money to add art exhibits on the trail itself. 100 collectible California license plates stamped with JCASH50 are for sale, framed with a photo of Cash. They were made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Cash’s recording at the prison in 1968. The plates, like all California plates, we’re made at Folsom Prison. The collectible can be had for only $2950. That’s too steep for me, especially since I would make a guitar out of the license plate.

Then we drove to Lake Tahoe just to spend the night there. We climbed and climbed on US Hwy 50. Once we started seeing snow it started getting deeper and deeper along the sides of the road. There’s been some serious snow removal going on over the winter. The mountains were absolutely gorgeous. And the lake is stunning. After checking into the hotel we walked to the lake where I was treated to snow on the beach for the first time in my life. We walked around town and found the California-Nevada border line. You can guess which side the Harrah’s casino is on. People in snow gear and carrying skis and snowboards were all over the place. There’s a gondola in the middle of town you can take up the mountainside and get to some of the ski slopes. We snagged some food at the deli in the grocery store and retired to our room for the night.

Kathy – Folsom State Prison is a pretty interesting place to visit. I was amazed at all the history of this place. The granite stone walls and gates that corridor off the prison are pretty spectacular too. Knowing everything was mined on site, and the stones were hand carved by the inmates with manual tools is amazing as well.

The museum had some cool stuff in it including lots of knives and guns that people tried to smuggle in. There were also many fabulous items on display that the prisoners made. Of course lots of information and pictures of Johnny Cash were there for viewing also. One tidbit of information that I didn’t know is Johnny Cash was never an inmate at Folsom State Prison. The mugshot of him there was for publicity purposes only. He did spend some time in a county jail in his younger years, but his time at Folsom State Prison was purely for entertaining the inmates.

It is interesting that the city of Folsom embraces the prison and Johnny Cash’s times there. Some towns with prisons in them try to keep the prison under wraps and don’t make it easily known. In Folsom the prison is literally in the main area of the town and it is kinda accepted as part of their history. Folsom really is a beautiful city with lots of walking, running and bike trails around. We saw a ton of people out exercising and enjoying life around the city. We really enjoyed our time there too, including a wonderful bike ride on the Johnny Cash Trail. It was 75 degrees and sunny, a perfect day to explore Folsom’s city, dam, and prison.

We then drove an hour and a half up into the mountains to South Lake Tahoe, California and Stateline, Nevada. I say this because the California/Nevada state boarder is right smack in the middle of the town. I have never been here, but it is just as spectacular as people have said it was. The pictures do not do it justice. We will be back to this place in the summertime to see more of it and to do some hiking. We were surprised to see so much snow still here in mid-March.

We are not skiers and did not have our snowshoes or winter clothing with us so no venturing out off the beaten path. We did walk about for a few hours and check out most of the town. It’s a pretty cool place and the lake and mountains surrounding it make it absolutely magnificent. We will be back. Another note, casinos were everywhere once you cross the street into Nevada but I didn’t go in any since we will be in Vegas in a few days. 🎰

After sightseeing in the town we decided to call it a day and relax in our hotel room for the evening. We started our day off with a bike ride in 75 degree temps and ended it in the snow packed mountains going for a nice long walk. I’d call it a good one.

A couple of notes…

If you would like to view older blog entries please click on the months below:

  • May 2018
  • June 2018
  • July 2018
  • August 2018
  • September 2018
  • October 2018
  • November 2018
  • December 2018
  • January 2019
  • February 2019
  • If you would like to comment on a blog post, please click on the post title (or header), scroll to the bottom and you will then see the comments section where you can add your thoughts. We look forward to your comment and encouraging words. Thank you!
  • If you would like to see our current location click here: Current Locationwhere you can see our daily travels.
  • To see all the photos related to a blog post, simply click on one of the photos and it will move over (either to the left or right) to the next photo.
  • If you would like to “follow” our blog, please click here: Home Page and look in the bottom right corner on your computer where you will see a “+Follow” link (If you are viewing our blog on your cell phone, the location may vary depending on cell phones. Please look around to find this area). Once you click on the “+Follow” link, just enter your email address there (only we can see it) and then go to your personal email to accept the ‘follow request email’ that you will receive. Once this is done, anytime we write a new blog post you will automatically get an email letting you know so you can read it at your leisure. Another option is to bookmark our site and view when you like: www.HankandKathyGreer.com