Adventures of Etoimos: A running thread of my adventures since 2018 (lots of images)


Hey everyone, my name is Keith and I started my offroad life in 2013 when we bought a used Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (JKUR in Jeep terms). The family and I spent many years doing weekend Jeep trail runs with others here in Colorado. During those years I build our Jeep to be a very capable rock crawler. Around 2016/17 I began to discovered that I liked doing the easier more scenic trails as apposed to the 4 mile, 6 hour, broken parts kinds of trails. I guess this is when you can say I became an "overlander". I started to add some mods to the Jeep that would facilitate this kind of adventuring. They JKUR was not the best choice for overlanding, so we eventually bought a 2019 Off Grid Trailers Expedition 2.0. That was a great addition to our setup, but highlighted even more limitation of the JKUR... it was not built to tow here in the mountains of Colorado. When the Jeep Gladiator came out I picked up a Rubicon version and it handled the trailer much better. Unfortunately, the truck itself turned out to be smaller than I expected for overland trips. With only a 5 foot bed and about 18 inches of bed height, it only lasted about two years in our family. To replace it we bought our current rig, a 2022 RAM Power Wagon and so far it has been great as both an adventure vehicle and a daily driver. If you are interested in any of the builds of these setups, just PM me and I'd be happy to send you a link to the build thread for each. You can find the Power Wagon build right here on AA.

The adventures I'll share in this thread will be from all of those different setups. I'll post them chronologically, so the wording and/or tense might seem a little off at times. To help organize this thread some, I am including a table of contents in this first post. I'll update each entry with a hyperlink to where that adventure starts in this thread. Some adventures will be a single post and some will span multiple posts.

Our Adventures

Three Generations in Death Valley - California - JKUR + RTT + Jeep trailer
Wild Horses of Sand Wash Basin - Colorado - JKUR + RTT
Very Large Array - New Mexico - JUKR + RTT
Lyrid Meteor Shower - Colorado - JKUR + OGT Expedition 2.0
Its Utah Jim - Utah - Gladiator + OGT Exped 2.0
Hunting NEOWISE - Wyoming - Gladiator + OGT Exped 2.0
Grama Goes Camping - Colorado - Gladiator + OGT Exped 2.0
Granby Fall Colors - Colorado - Gladiator + OGT Exped 2.0
Overland Expo Mountain West 2021, By Air? - Colorado - Gladiator + OGT Exped 2.0
Fall Camping with Co-workers - Colorado - Gladiator + OGT Exped 2.0
The Great Western Loop - Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah - Power Wagon + OGT Exped 2.0
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Three Generations in Death Valley, Day 1 of 8

Death Valley Day 1 Route

Day 1 – 24Mar18
Beatty NV / Goldwell Open Air Museum / Rhyolite ghost town / Titus Canyon
Trip Time: 9:15 (0730-1645)
Miles: 125
Average Speed: 14mph

We rolled into a dispersed camping spot just south of Beatty NV around 2100 the evening before. It was already dark and there were several other rigs setup, so I just found a level spot near the road. We setup the two RTTs and had a quick sandwich for dinner and were off to bed. We awoke around 0600 the next morning to the sounds of coyotes yipping in the nearby hills. It was a nice change from the semi-trucks we herd pretty much all night. We quickly packed the RTTs up and headed into town to gas up and to get one last full breakfast before heading into the backcountry.
Starting Day 1 off with breakfast at Mel's Dinner

Mel’s Diner had pretty good food and okay prices. Service was not the best, but they were busy that morning.

The first stop on the list was the Goldwell open air museum. It is a quirky little place that I could have spent about 10-15 minutes in, but my dad and son were having fun and we spent about 45 minutes exploring the little area.


My son thought these were kind of creepy.


From left to right: Kiefer, Keith, Gary… three generations of Upton’s.


It was cool seeing my son strike a pose all on his own for a photo.


I guess no one is in his inner circle yet!

My dad and the little guy decided to walk up the road to the ghost town of Rhyolite while I did some adjusting to the things packed in the Jeep. I then drove up to meet and explore with them. Rhyolite was founded in 1904 and by 1907-1908 had a population somewhere around ~3500-5000 people. It even had an opera house and stock exchange. But by around 1911, the mine was playing out and the population dropped to around 1000. By 1920 it was uninhabited.



The old town bank.

It was already very late in the morning when we made it to the Titus Canyon trail head. The road leading in looked pretty tame so we headed straight in after stopping at the info sign briefly. I was not sure if I wanted to air down for Titus Canyon or not since we would be getting right back on payment for a decent stretch of road once finishing the trail. After about 50 yards I decided to air down just for comfort on the washboards. I had a total of 15lbs of CO2 with me to air back up with, so I decided we could spare the air to enjoy this trail a little more.

Out of all of the trails/roads we drove in DV, Titus Canyon was my favorite. It starts out with nice desert mountain views, transitions into some shelf road switchbacks climbing over the mountains and then drops you down in to the valley before entering the canyon. Lots of great views and trail changes to keep you looking forward to the next section.


Different than the mountains we have back in CO. Seeing all of the layers of different rock bending and turning was quite the sight.


Decent road leading in, with just moderate washboards.


A shot of the off road trailer I rented from a local overlander. This made the trip much easier logistically!


The full rig in tail mode.


We often forget how small we are in this world.


Heading into the canyon proper.


Cacti can and will grow wherever they can find purchase.


The last mile or so of the trail is where it gets really tight.

My original plan was to exit Titus Canyon and head north directly to Eureka Dunes. However, when I called the Park on Wednesday before we left, they said we would have to drive into Stove Pipe Wells to get the entry permit (even though the map showed a ranger station near Scotty’s Castle). So we aired back up and made the 30 mile paved drive to SPW. The rangers there were really nice, but I knew the backcountry rules better than they did (researched them online). Since this was a 60 mile round trip excursion I had not planned on, we decided to top the gas tank off at SPW for $3.99 a gallon. Not cheap by any means, but not outrageous either. After getting the permit and gas we made our way back up north, passing the northern ranger station with a big sign out front saying Fee Permits. Doh! Could have saved lots of time and gas if I would have just used my own research and not called the park for the “latest information”.


From the turn off for Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley Rd becomes a mix of mild washboard and smooth dirt and packed gravel. That part of the road is very wide and that late in the afternoon there was no one traveling it but us, we were able to make some good time in this section. Once we hit the mountains at the top of Death Valley Rd. the conditions changed to a nice dirt/gravel road up the mountain side. At the top is the mines and the road down the backside has been paved for the large trucks. Being aired down again, we took the paved section at a slow pace. Just about out of the mountains with the turn off to Eureka Dunes just down the next slope, we passed a large group of 10-12 Jeeps heading up. Sorry, I did not get any pictures of this portion of the route.

After roughly 7.5 hours of exploring and driving, we could see our first campsite in the park, Eureka Dunes.


In about 20 minutes we had are campsite setup for the evening and were enjoying the surroundings.





Three Generations in Death Valley, Day 2 of 8


Day 2 – 25Mar18
Eureka Dunes / Steele Pass / Saline Warm Springs / Mechanical issue Trip Time: 6:30 (1108-1532)
Miles: 46
Average Speed: 4mph

In my initial plans Day 2 was supposed to be the longest day on the move inside the park, but I initially made some alternative stopping points because I knew it could also be the one with the most exploring. As it turned out, we got a very late start leaving the Dunes. My son had been excited to go explore the dunes as soon as we arrived. Being later in the day when we arrived, I made him wait until the next morning. The first dune he tried to climb had him questioning how much he really wanted to explore them. It was only about a 12-15 foot dune, but it was really steep. After several failed attempts to make it up, his Pep-pa grabbed him by the arm and the two of them scrambled up it. This gave him the confidence to continue and looked at me and said “Dad, I want to go all the way to the top”. Now, the Eureka Dunes are one of the highest dune fields in North America (it is also one of only about 40 booming or singing sand dunes in the world), so I had my doubts if he could make it. After the successful assault on that initial dune, he was not going to turn back. Over the next couple of hours we climbed our way to the very top, 656 feet above our campsite.


Once in the dunes you are pretty much swallowed up by them.


He is on a mission.


Interesting tracks in the sand. We later discovered they were made by some type of beetle.


More tracks, this time from we think a bird.


In Death Valley, even the sand dunes have washboards!


The climb to the top was too much for Pep-pa, so he explored the lower dunes as we made our ascent.


The dune conquering Kiefer! I was super proud of my little guy for reaching the top!


You can just barely make out the Jeep and trailer campsite in this photo. It’s the little black dot in the light colored sand, just above the three smaller dunes on the left.


After reaching the top, coming down was the easy and fun part! This is also were we hard the booming/singing sand as we moved large amounts of sand down the sides of dunes. It was a deep rumbling sound. Like nothing I’ve ever heard before.


His Pep-pa was really proud of him as well.


We could not spare the weight to bring back all the sand he collected in his hiking boots!

With the dunes conquered and the camp packed up, we headed south on the Steele Pass trail. The trail around the dune field is very sandy in spots, but nothing to worry about if you are aired down some. Once you get past the sand it turns in to gravel/rock and hard pack. Not long after reaching the canyons, you come to the only real obstacle on this trail, the Steps. They are 3 or 4 rock ledges that you must climb up (when heading south). A couple of them would be pretty good sized steps if they had not been filled in with rocks over the years by vehicles needing some help over them. Had I not been towing the trailer, 4hi in the Jeep would have made short work of them. With the trailer, there was on spot where I had to drop to 4lo and engage the lockers. The Jeep just could not get enough traction in the loose dirt between the rocks to pull its self up the step and the trailer over some rocks at the bottom of it.


Leaving the dunes behind.


Into the valley of death rode the six hundred.


A tight squeeze, even for a JK.


This section of the park (and a couple of others) really reminds me of Afghanistan.


The funnest part of the trail is behind us now.


It turns out that Steele Pass is also a great place to play cowboys and Indians!

The rest of the trail was a mix of hard pack and gravel. One other spot worth mentioning on this trail was a narrow section of road between a switch back. It had eroded some the width of my Jeep was pushing it. My dad and son got out to watch and dad said my passenger side tires were right on the edge. After that it was a rocky hard packed road down to the Saline Valley floor where the road turned into a deep rock wash.


A mild trail and great views.


Some of the largest cacti in the park can be found on this trail.


The trailer handling the terrain like a champ.

Saline Valley is known for low flying fighter jets and we got our one and only close encounter shortly after passing between Saline Peak and Dry Mountain. It was an F-18 that came in from the north, dropped down over the mountains and sped over the Warm Springs and banked hard to the east before disappearing behind the ridge line. As our planned trek through this region of the park was schedule for a Sunday, I was not sure if we would see any aerial action or not. While not the closest flyby I’ve experienced, it was exciting none the less.
Before making it to the springs, we were stopped by a friendly dirt bike couple who wanted to know the condition of the trail we had just passed over. After a short chat about the trail, the F-18, photography, and RTTs, we took their advice to skip the upper springs and head straight to the lower springs as it was more impressive. He had not made it more than 50 yards before a Ford Raptor and then an FJ Cruiser also asked about the trail conditions. No one we talked to continued on and all headed back to the springs instead.
Not knowing exactly what to expect and with it already getting later in the afternoon, I decided that we would pull into a nice looking camping spot to park while we checked out the springs. There were already a lot of other people setup, so I wanted to make sure we had a spot if we decided to stay the night. As I did the left hand U turn to get into the spot, I heard a slight clicking/popping noise coming from the front end. Poking around under the Jeep reviled power steering fluid dripping off the pitman arm and onto the diff and axle. A busted power steering gearbox. Great. I could not tell if the housing was cracked or if the seal had just let lose. If it was the latter, I might be able to keep it topped off with heavier weight fluid and deal with it later. If it was the latter, at any moment I could lose all steering control. I’m glad I decided to pick a place to setup camp when we pulled in. With my dad taking on the camp setup, I started working out contingency plans. My first order of business was to inform the wife that we were safe, but had a major mechanical issue that would have to be addressed. A close second on the list of things to do was to contact my Jeeping buddy back home and set him to researching what my best options were. This little episode is where the inReach earned its keep with the two-way satellite communications. I was able to tell my friend what my issue was and what my two possible egress routes were. With this info he was able to research the parts I would need and where the closest place to get them would be. While he was off researching that for me, I walked back up to the Upper Springs to talk to the dirt bike couple as they were somewhat local to the area and came here often. They advised me that while it was a little further away, my best bet would be to try and make it out to Big Pine and then on to Bishop if possible. The road out that way was easier and more traveled. The final destinations also had a much better chance of having the things I’d need for making the repair.
With nothing left to do about the Jeep, we took the remainder of the afternoon and evening to check out the springs and relax a little bit.


The Lower Springs look small against the backdrop of the mountains.


But they are actually kind of large.


Just past the fence of branches the ground is covered in grass, the temp drops noticeably, and half the people lose their clothes.


Now that’s a rock lizard.


It does not take long for my little guy to start playing in the dirt.


And even less time to make campground friends.


Before sunset a storm started to roll in. The inReach weather report said possible rain and snow.


Right at sunset, the surrounding hills were getting some much needed rain.

That evening the wind picked up and was blowing around 20-25mph consistently with gusts well above that. While noisy, the RTTs did a great job in the high winds. We did have to tie down the ladders to help hold the floating floor sections down against the wind though.
Great stuff, thanks for sharing your adventures here with us!


Three Generations in Death Valley, Day 3-4 of 8


Day 3/4 – 26Mar18 – 27Mar18
Saline Valley / Big Pine, CA / Bishop, CA Trip Time: 6:39 (0801-1441)
Miles: 92
Average Speed: 14mph

The next morning we were all business. We tore down camp and I aired the front tires way up (and brought the rears and trailer tires up some to equal it out a bit as well) to relieve some strain from the leaking power steering gearbox. With that, we started the slow and careful crawl out of Death Valley, eating our breakfast as we went. Even though we were diverting out of Death Valley and the state of the rest of the trip was still unknown at this point, the drive was beautiful. It would have been much better had I been able to keep the tires aired down, as the washboard was rough and made for slow going.


A beautiful start to the day.


A wild burrow watches us slowly roll by.


We know we are getting closer to pavement when we saw the Sierra Nevada mountains creep into view.

We eventually make it to Big Pine where we grab some lunch and some cell signal. It was here that I contacted my friend about the parts situation, and the situation was not good. It did not matter if the gearbox was cracked or just had a busted seal, the whole unit would have to be replaced. He had searched online and called the local parts stores in Bishop. The prices varied from $650-$850 and no one could get it quicker than 5 days. In fact, none of the Jeep dealerships in NV (the closest dealership to us was in NV) had any in stock. Finally I had him call our go to shop, R&R Offroad, back in Colorado Springs to see if he had any ideas. While he did this, we got back on the road and headed up to Bishop to have access to specialty tools I’d need to rent and a good campground. Once in Bishop I got word that R&R actually had a refurbished one in stock and only wanted $500 for. A flurry of phone calls and the wife was on her way to pick it up and overnight it to us… to the tune of $345 in shipping charges!
While in Bishop we stayed in Brown’s Town campgrounds. It was a nice little campground and it was nice to get out of the dirt for a bit. The hot shower was even nicer and I went ahead and did a load of laundry since the option was there and we had time. I also took advantage of a small “frontier town” façade they had setup out front to get some photos of the little guy and dad.


The warm days and cool evenings made it feel more like fall than spring.


This photo shoot will score me some extra points with the wife when I get back!

The part arrived the next morning around 0830 and we broke camp to go get the tools we would need.

Since the campground we were staying in did not allow work to be done on vehicles, the friendly lady at O-Riley Auto Parts suggested we use the dirt lot right next door to them. It turned out to be a decent, if dirty, place to work since the parts store was just 40 feet away. I bought some jack stands and a few other smaller items that we would need and rented the pitman arm puller. Than we set to work. Replacing the steering gearbox on a Jeep JK is not super complicated. We’d have to jack the Jeep up, get the axle up on stands, pull the track bar off the pitman arm, disconnect two hydraulic lines, undo the four bolts holding the gearbox to the frame and the bolt connecting it to the steering yoke.

I love my older JCR Offroad front bumper, but the one thing it lacks is slots cut into it for lifting with a Hi-Lift. So, the fog lights had to be removed so those cutouts could be used to lift the Jeep. As anyone with a lifted Jeep knows, if you lift from the body, you have to go a long ways up before you max out your suspension droop and start lifting the axle. I learned long ago to use a ratchet strap to secure the axle to the frame so you don’t have to jack it up as high. With the axle up on jack stands, it was time to get the track bar lose from the pitman arm. These are just pressed together, but with some 400+ pounds of force. The pitman arm puller works by using blunt force to “pop” them apart. This means you need to be able to give it a very hard whack with a hammer. Try as we might, and try for several hours we did, we could not get the pitman arm to pop off. We finally decided that we were making no headway on getting it off and it was already around 1330, so I made the decision that we’d have to take it to a shop. After about 15 minutes of calling around, A&L Tires said they could move some jobs around in the shop and get us in that afternoon if we could be there in 15-20 minutes. I hurriedly return the parts I’d rented and we put the Jeep back together.


Dad said he was a shade tree mechanic, not a sand lot mechanic.

True to their word, A&L Tires had the Jeep up on a lift not long after we arrived. The shop foreman told us we should walk down the road and grab a bite to eat while we waited. It was a great suggestion since we had not stopped for lunch and the kid had just been eating cookies while we worked. Just down the road was a small Mexican restaurant called Petite Pantry (odd name for a Mexican joint). It turns out that the PP is one of those hidden gems you stumble upon during unplanned travels. The food was decently priced, the portions were huge and the food was delicious. Jay, the owner of the PP, was quite the character. He was immediately treating us like old friends and swapping jokes and riddles. At one point, he sat down at the table next to my son and held up a one dollar bill. He told my son he could win the dollar if he could answer the next riddle correctly. When my son answered correctly, Jay gave him the dollar as promised. After we finished eating we sat around a bit and chatted with Jay. When he found out we were traveling and that the Jeep was in the shop getting fixed, he offered to loan us his classic Cadillac Eldorado that was parked out front. I honestly believe he was sincere in his offer to.


The Petite Pantry, one of those hidden gems you find by mistake.


That’s a 12″ chicken quesadilla and my son has a “kid’s” size plate of biscuits and gravy.

About 2.5 hours after we dropped the Jeep off, they were done with it and we headed back to the campgrounds for one final night.

Three Generations in Death Valley, Day 5 of 8


Day 5 – 28Mar18
Bishop, CA / Pinion Mesa
Trip Time: 5:56 (1032-1629)
Miles: 140
Average Speed: 23mph

After restocking on some food supplies and gassing up, we made the trip back into the park. Since we had lost a couple of days in Bishop, I decided to alter my planned route and stick to the paved roads as much as possible so that we would not have to cut huge chunks of the part out of our visit. Not something I really wanted to do, but this particular trip was not about me. Coming back into the park from the west on Hwy 190 afforded us the opportunity to stop on the dirt road at Father Crowley Overlook for lunch. We were hoping to see a jet fighter make the “Jedi Transition” run, but it was not to be. For those not familiar with the Jedi Transition or Star Wars Canyon, a Google search is well worth your time.

The rest of the day was spent making the long climb back into the center of the park where I had made plans to camp that night. I was really excited about this camping spot and could not wait to check it out. It would be one of only two camp sites on the trip that we did not have to share with anyone else. In fact, once we turned off the main road, we never saw or heard another person until we were back out on the main road the next day. Total silence, total bliss. We finished setting up camp and had a decent amount of time before dark to do some exploring and rock hunting. I also took time to clean up a lot of broken glass around the old house area and in front of the fireplace especially. I can’t understand how some people do not take care of cool camping places like this.

This was the site of an old stone house of some type (I’ve not been able to find any information on it). It had two sets of pretty elaborate stone stair ways, a large stone patio and a large stone fireplace and chimney. The place also had electric wired at some point in its history. That evening was the first time in the park that the wind was not blowing like crazy and the temperature was warm enough not to send us to our tents early. After cooking dinner on the Camp Chef Redwood portable fire pit (all of our cooking was done on this), we build a wood fire in the old fireplace and enjoyed roasting marshmallows in it. This was also my first good opportunity to do some night time photography. When I was originally planning this trip, I was hoping the Milky Way would be visible, but the dates we were there ended up during the week of a full moon. This meant no Milky Way photos and no Star trails either. I still managed to get a decent shot of the RTTs setup (I owed @reuben of Odin Designs some good photos for loaning me the extra RTT that was on the trailer).


Perfect spot for the rig.


Not a bad view at all.


Kiefer discovered this night that he actually did like chili and roasted marshmallows!


Me and the little guy playing around with some lights I had in my camera bag.


A peaceful night.

Three Generations in Death Valley, Day 6 of 8


Day 6 – 29Mar18
Skidoo Mines / Furnace Creek / Echo Canyon
Trip Time: 7:47 (0959-1747)
Miles: 176
Average Speed: 22mph

Knowing my dad would enjoy the old mining sites, I made it a point on this trip to explore the Skidoo mining area. It is remote and has many small and several large old mining operations in the area. We spent a good deal of time exploring this area and my dad really enjoyed it.


Looking back on the Skidoo town site. There was nothing left of it.



I find it amazing how many cars were abandoned at mining sites.


Don’t think I want to go in there!





The large Skidoo Mill site. You can’t get to close to it, but it is still impressive.

My little guy had been really good on the trip thus far. He just soaked up the miles and did not get upset when we had to divert to Bishop for a couple of days, so I told him I would take him to the Furnace Creek visitor’s center so he could get a souvenir (which for him is a stuffed animal). Now, I really did not want to stop here. It, like all visitor centers, are kind of the anti-outdoors of national parks. Crowded, noisy and overpriced. That sums up it up pretty much. It did give my dad a chance to call his wife to check in and for me to get a picture of Kiefer next to the “official” temperature sign. But we couldn’t believe that there was not ice cream for sale in the immediate area! Talk about a money making opportunity!


Officially it was only 99° while we there, but the Jeep showed 101 at one point. And yes, he is wearing all back in DV.


The range east of the visitor’s center is spectacular.

Leaving the crowds behind, we made our way to Echo Canyon for the night. The start of Echo Canyon is a washboard and rocky road that eventually turns into a just a rocky road. There is a small “gate keeper” type of obstacle on the trail before you get into the canyon that seems to keep most people from going any further. We still saw other Jeeps and several types of Toyota trucks on it in the later afternoon and mid-morning the next day. I believe we were the only ones to make camp above the gate keeper that night, so it was a nice and secluded campsite again that night. We did run into our second mechanical issue of the trip on this trail. The lower weld on the trailer’s driver’s side shock broke lose at some point and we must have dragged it a little ways as it was beat up some. Our only option was to completely remove the shock and rely on the leaf springs alone. As the sun started to set, the bats came out and gave us a pretty good show while we had our dinner. Protected as we were down in the canyon and being much lower in elevation also meant for another pleasant night of star gazing.


Not as tight or as tall as Titus canyon, but fun to drive just the same.


There were even wild flowers growing in the canyon.


A busted shock mount on the trailer.


For and old Army cook, he doesn’t keep a clean kitchen.


Brats, dogs, and potatoes. Yum!


We sat for hours watching the stars and satellites cross the sky.

Three Generations in Death Valley, Day 7 of 8


Day 7 – 30Mar18
Zabriskie Point / Devil’s Golf Course / Badwater Basin / Artist Drive / Salt Creek
Trip Time: 9:06 (1034-1940)
Miles: 233
Average Speed: 25mph

This was going to be our “tourist” day. All of the points of interests we were going to stopping at were right off the main roads and were sure to be packed with people. We started the day off with a quick trip to Zabriskie Point, followed that up with a view of the Devil’s Golf Course from the West Side road, then it was on to Badwater basin. I’d really like to spend some time photographing Zabriskie and the DGC in better lighting and without so many people. They are both interesting places. Other than saying you have been at -282 feet below sea level, one could skip Badwater and not miss too terribly much.


Zabriskie Point, I can see why this is a popular attraction.


There are hiking trails above and around Zabriskie Point that could make for some good excursion hikes.


Out on the salt flows of Devil’s Golf Course.


My son thought the salt looked like a miniature brown forest from above.


Mountains of salt backed by mountains of rock. Under all the dirt, the salt was pure white and pristine.


They say salt used to be more valuable than gold. Had that held true through time, this area would have still had its “gold” rush.


The lowest spot in North America.


Just to the left of the small green lens flare, you can just barely make out the white sign on the rocks marking where sea level is.


The mountains go right down to the edge of the salt flats.

Artist’s Drive is worth the drive, but also be much better around sunset. During the middle of the day it was just okay. There is a 25′ limit for RVs and trailers. I was just a couple of feet over that, but did fine. One of the adverse side effects of the steering gearbox going out earlier in the trip was that it completely though off my fuel consumption plan. This forced me to have to fill up both the Jeep and two of the Jerry cans before heading deeper into the park for the last day of our trip.


Lots of different colors in the rocks here.


A fun little road to drive.


My least favorite photo of the trip. lol

One of the things my son really wanted to do on this trip was to see the pup fish that only live in Death Valley. There are 10 distinct type of pup fish here, and three of them are on the endangered species list. We made a stop at the Salt Creek nature walk to see if we could find the Salt Creek Pup Fish. As it turns out, that’s not hard to do. They live in the creek right next to where you park. If you stroll the boardwalk a ways, you will see a lot of them. The info signage says that they only live about a year and that the creek is seasonal, so I have no idea how they survive from year to year.


A rather large male pup fish.


And his little lady friend.

We finished out the day with the long trek to the Death Valley Backcountry Campsite, having to drive right past the last three places we would visit so we would have time to setup camp before dark. While we were setting up camp, another Jeep with a RTT rolled into the isolated campground south of the Race Track. To my amazement, it turned out to be @Sicarii and his wife… some Jeep’n friends from back in Colorado. We had a nice chat while eating dinner and then turned in for the night.

Three Generations in Death Valley, Day 8 of 8


Day 8 – 31Mar18
Race Track / Teakettle Junction / Ubehebe Crater
Trip Time: 6:02 (0937-1539)
Miles: 96
Average Speed: 16mph

Due to the down time spent in Bishop fixing the Jeep, it was decided that we would extend the trip an extra day to explore the last three locations on our itinerary: The Race Track, Teakettle Junction, and Ubehebe Crater. Still needing to get back home by the end of tomorrow for work and school, we planned on getting an early start as we knew the Race Track and Ubehebe could take some time to explore. I also wanted to try and put some miles down towards home so that we would not have to do all 16 hours of them on Sunday.

I climbed out of my tent early in the morning to find the front tire of the Jeep flat. Inspecting the tire it appeared that the valve stem was leaking. Not knowing if this was the source or the only source of the slow leak and knowing that time was limited today, I opted to swap on the spare tire instead of replacing just the valve stem to see if that fixed it. With help from @Sicarii , it did not take long to get the tire swapped out and we set about getting camp stuck.


I had planned on exploring both the southern and middle sections of the Race Track as I did not know which area would be the best for seeing the mysterious moving rocks. Being even more short on time this morning, I had to make the decision to make only one stop. Not knowing which one would be better, I remembered seeing some photographers setting up around the middle of the Race Track the evening before for some astrophotography. Thinking they would have scouted out the best location for their isolated late night shoot, I opted to go where they had been.
I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting of the Race Track, but it was not quite what I thought it would be. It is very interesting and definitely a cool place to explore, but we saw more illegal tire tracks then we did rocks that had moved. In fact we only found 2 or 3 and they were smaller than what I thought they were going to be. This is one place I’d love to revisit to explore properly and do some real photography at.


The best example of the moving rocks we could find.


The Grandstands off to the north.


You simply have to have a race on the Race Track!

Teakettle Junction might be half the size of Petty Coat Junction, but a stop is mandatory of course. It’s simply a sign post that people have been placing teakettles on for years. Unfortunately, we had forgot to bring one to add to the collection and had to settle for leaving only foot prints.


It is a long 6 miles back to the Race Track on a heavily washboard road.


Me and my little man making memories.

The final stop of our Death Valley adventure was the Ubehebe Crater (pronounced YOO-bee-HEE-bee). The crater is a half mile wide and 600 feet deep and is a great location to see the different geological layers in the surrounding rock. My little man said that he had started this trip climbing to the top of Eureka Dunes so he would like to finish it be hiking do the bottom of the Ubehebe Crater. How could I deny him this goal even with our current time crunch?


Not a good pace to caught in a heavy rain.


Rethinking his desire to hike down in the heat.


The view from the bottom.

Even with the one major mechanical issue and the deviations it caused, this was a really great trip that I’m sure the three of us will remember for a very long time. As my first overland adventure, it not only taught me several things, it also gave me an idea of the direction I want to go with my vehicle based adventures. More epic trips like this are definitely in my future and I think my weekend rock crawling days are going to be winding down. While those are fun and I’m sure I’ll do them from time to time, they just don’t have the same sense of adventure as the overland style trip does.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the people that helped with this trip and made it possible. First and foremost, I need to thank my wife. Without her not only would this trip not be possible, but I would not have my wonderful little man to go exploring with me. A big thank you goes to my buddy Justin for doing all of the research and leg work on the steering issue we had. Finally, I’d like to thank Ken for “renting” me his offroad trailer. This trip would have been a logistical nightmare without the extra room his trailer provided.
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