Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Race Track

The Race Track is one of the treasures of Death Valley National Park. Its remote location on a washboard, bumpy, rocky road, makes it even more of a treasure, but It is no place for an 800 pound motorcycle. We needed four wheels, and four wheel drive. We went to Farrabee’s Jeep Rentals.
I had been to Farrbee’s several years ago, and upon arrival we were greeted with a paper sign taped to the door that said “Back In 10 minutes”.

This time we were greeted by a paper sign taped to the door that said “Open at 8”.
Farrbee himself was around the side of the building washing jeeps with a power washer machine. When he pulled one to the front line his dog followed barking and biting at the vehicle tires. He said someone would be right with us.

Someone was, and still taped to the inside of the door were all the other handmade paper signs including the one from several years ago “Back In 10 minutes” and the famous “Gone To Christmas Parade” The Christmas parade was today. I do not know if they taped the sign to the door, and went to the parade.
We got our Jeep in spite of the on line reservation being for a jeep rental in November…

After some heating up of credit cards, and a pre ride briefing we were on the way to the Race Track in trusty number 51, a flashy red 4 door with satellite  radio, electric windows, air conditioning, a full tank of gas, and a cooler full of ice and plastic bottles of water. We would use all of this during our ride with number 51, but do not fear. 51 not only survived but we saw it on the road the day after with normal people on paved roads.

Only a few vehicles were on the Racetrack road, so the dust wasn’t bad. We met one or two other jeeps that were going the other way. Wide spots in the road were found and waves exchanged as we passed. Approaching Tea Kettle Junction we neared a private 4 wheel drive pickup. The stopped at the junction and the driver jumped out and took a cell phone photo.

Tea Kettle Junction 
We stopped at the Junction and took several photographs, stretched our legs, and discovered that the well regulated militia had been shooting at their fears right there at the junction. There fears must have still been chasing them as they left quite a pile of shell casings that we picked up, and put into one of the empty plastic water bottles.
Just a few miles from the Junction we arrived at the north end of the Racetrack.
Exploring around for a while we discovered that not many rocks had been racing, but that people most likely our well regulated militia pals had driven on the playa, leaving there tire tracks for perhaps century’s.

Race Track Playa

Down at the south end we found the rocks…

The Racing Rocks

Other jeeps came and went back out the way they came in, but the map shows two other roads going out the other way. One of these roads I had taken in another jeep but today we took Lippincott Road.
Lippincott road turned out to be even rougher than the road in. It turned out to be a real jeep road with rocky narrow switchback turns. Boulders in the middle of the road. Steep drop offs.

We thought we were the only humans on this road until we encountered an uphill pedal bike riding fellow from Colorado. He had legs like tree trunks and was hardly sweating. He told us to watch out for a pick up that was ahead of us.
After a while from high on a cut bank we encountered the truck. The passenger would jump out and run ahead, scouting the terrain, and giving hand signals to the driver.
This was quite amusing but was slowing us down, and we finally got around them when they pulled into the only wide spot on the road.
Before returning # 51 we filled it up with aboot 10 gallons of petrol costing over $40.00 at park prices and squeaked in under the 200 mile limit…
Number Fifty One On The Lippincott Trail

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