By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander*, the Never-Bored RVers
This is the second of two articles about our trip to Death Valley earlier this month, the sequel to our excursion to China Ranch Date Farm. Included at the end is my golf story about why I’m glad I four-putted the 18th hole.
PART 2, THE ENCAMPMENT — There are those who return each year to the Death Valley 49ers Encampment to don the outfits of the American West as it was back in the 1800s. It’s a four-day variety show, complete with horse riders alongside buckboards pulled by mules, a “return to the days of yesteryear,” as we heard on the Lone Ranger radio and TV shows.
Many come to the Encampment to commune with history, but everyone comes for the entertainment – top-notch singers and musicians who rank among America’s most notable western performers. Some venture into the desert to escape the cold. There’s no quiet like the quiet of the desert, and there’s no more beautiful landscape than the striated hills in every direction.
Yet, I’ll bet the most compelling reason most drive hour after hour to return year after year is to socialize with friends they’ve camped alongside for years if not decades. 2011 was the 62nd year of the Encampment [http://www.deathvalley49ers.org].
Monique and I made the 600-mile round-trip for the second year in a row seeking adventure. Like last year everyday held new vistas and opportunities for
entertainment and exploration. Folk and western music is everywhere, emanating from several formal stages … to groups of chairs placed randomly … to friends gathered among the thousand or so RVs to do a little “pickin’ & grinnin’.” This year’s Friday night “Coyote Howl,” a mostly musical talent show, was our highlight, not only because of the quality of the performances but because of the many fun, off-beat songs.
There’s the costume contest, an art show highlighted by the quick-draw segment that climaxed with a furious auction, parades, movies about Death Valley history and oddities, crafts, horseshoe matches and the golf tournaments …
Our reason for returning was simple – we had such a good time there last year that it was a natural choice to pull our RV across the stark wilderness knowing we would eventually arrive in time for all the excitement of the Encampment. We look forward to our next Death Valley adventure.
PART 3, MY GOLF STORY — I have a golf story to tell about why I’m glad I four-putted the 18th green. Asked for my handicap before teeing off, I admitted I only play about once a year, and last year I shot a sucky 110. That earned me a 26 handicap for this year: as it turns out, highest in the contest. I was fortunate to be paired up with Dennis, Ron and Ray (unknown to me before then) to play the second-day tournament.
Unlike last year when I averaged about 3.2 putts per green, last week I was averaging two putts per green going into the final hole … and that’s when I four-putted. Had I two-putted, I would have won the tourney, which would be mighty embarrassing and undeserved with a 26 handicap. But, no matter what, we all had our lowest round of golf in Death Valley – 214 feet below sea level.
Before ending, I’d like to commend both Larry and the dozens of commenters about last week’s blog on being too old to continue RVing. Very interesting discussion. We, too, are aware that someday we’ll probably reach a time when hitching up a travel trailer to the bumper is impractical and maybe move to a Class C or a motorhome to continue our journeys. But until then, we live in the present, enjoying and appreciating the blessings and opportunities in our lives. We always focus on bright horizons.
*Any errors in this article are mine. Monique is minding our cabin this week while I visit with my new granddaughter in Louisiana. I’m making the trip on Amtrak, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story that I’ll talk about in the weeks to come.
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved