November 8, 2015
Today I woke up a 5:00 am to venture out to Mobius and Lathe Arches of the Alabama Hills to capture the mornings first light touching the high peaks of the Sierras. As I arrived and was starting to set up the camera, I was greeted with a welcoming “Good morning” from a gentleman with a German accent. Harold was his name. It was nice just the two of us there exchanging tripod positions and photographing techniques. Harold is 70 years old and along with his wife Sarah, they have been traveling and photographing North America for the past 4 ½ months starting in Alaska and will finish in Mexico. They had last traveled this area in 2007 and are just amazed with the wonderful scenery in the USA. It was a great pleasure meeting and spending almost three hours visiting with him and hearing about his explorations and insight of his many years of travel and photography.
I returned to the RV to get Storm for our day of exploring the interesting rock formations that make up the Alabama Hills are. As I have said before, I enjoy meeting so many people when I travel. The next stop was no different as I drove up to some climbers scaling the vertical surface of Shark’s Fin rock. As I arrived I was greeted by a nice young man from Los Angeles and his rock climbing friends. As I set up the camera to snap a few shots we started talking and found out he had just did his first climb yesterday. While we were talking, his girlfriend started her climb and then was followed by her sister. Once, again I offered to send them a few photos of their climb to the top.
The rest of the day Storm and I explored the area. At our final stop we meet a couple and their dog as they were setting up their camp spot for the night in a 4x4 conversion van. After briefly introducing ourselves, he told me he picked that spot to do his hobby of time lapse photography. This is another retired couple that sold their home in LA and have been traveling in their van for 7 ½ months exploring the United States. I enjoy the travel, but it is always better when your spouse is with you.
November 9, 2015
As I type this entry along the shoulder of Highway 190, I sit and ponder what other obstacles I will encounter on this trip. The reason I am pulled off on to this narrow shoulder is…brakes on fire. I have been coming down the grade going into Death Valley and had the truck in 2nd and 3rd gears, but with the steep grade and sharp turns braking is still a necessity. I could tell things were starting to go south when I the VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) light came on with a solid beep. I was starting to smell burnt brakes had to apply full power to the fifth wheel brakes to slow my momentum and stop at a safe, not too sloped, shoulder of the highway. Getting out I could see smoke from both front wheels and quickly blow out the small fire from the right caliper. Ah, the joys of traveling. So, here I wait to let them cool to the touch and attempt to descend the remainder of the way (about 3000 ft elevation drop) to the Death Valley floor to access any further damage. The cool off time begins…
After letting the brakes cool and adjusting for more trailer braking I have made it to my resting spot for the night. I am just outside the border of Valley of Fire State Park in southwest Nevada. Brakes seem OK, but I will give them a test after unhooking the fifth wheel tomorrow. Hoping for good lighting and interesting photos of this unique part of Nevada.