For our first trip in our new rig, my wife, my dog and I headed to Death Valley. It had been over 10 years since I had been there since I was afraid my previous camper, a 1978 Volkswagen, would leave us stranded there. See this thread
to find out how well trusting my new van went. Click here
to see the full photo album.
It looks so innocent.
We left Woodland Hills, CA and traveled north up Highway 14 through Lancaster, Mojave and Ridgecrest then took Highway 178. We stopped and explored the Red Cliffs Natural Preserve.
We traveled through Trona where the highway became Trona Wildrose Rd. We stopped for lunch at the pass overlooking the Panamint Valley.
Trona Wildrose Rd became Wildrose Rd as we entered Death Valley. It is unpaved in parts but presented no real challenge.
We camped at Thorndike campground on our first night and stopped to see the charcoal kilns on the way.
Thorndike Campground. We aired down at the charcoal kilns and prepared ourselves for our first "4x4 Recommended" road which turned out to be pretty tame. We had the entire campground to ourselves, as everyone else seemed to want to continue on to Mahogany Flats. We were happy at Thorndike and it was kind of like boondocking since there was no one else there.
Airing up the next morning on the way out. Here is where I forgot to put the cover to the front bumper back on before leaving. Luckily, replacements are available from Buckstop.
We rejoined Highway 178 and continued through Death Valley. Here we are looking back from Emigrant Pass.
We stopped for lunch and to register for a backcountry camping permit at the Furnace Creek visitor's center. Our intention was to camp near the mining site of Furnace or Greenwater along the Greenwater Valley road.
Ominous clouds foreshadowing the events to come.
Like I said, the rest of the trip report can be found here
. In short, about 1.75 miles along the dirt road, the van's engine died. Somehow we killed the Powertrain Control Module. Another car came along after about an hour and took us back to Furnace Creek where we spent the night. The next day, it took 14 hours to get the van to Las Vegas where we spent the night in the dealer's parking lot. Since the repairs were going to take a few days, we rented a car and returned home.
All in all, it turned out to be a pretty awful trip. In addition to the engine problem, we found many things that aren't working right on the rig. Everything will work out fine, but I don't know that I'll ever be 100% comfortable taking the SMB to remote locations.