Death Valley, not a great place for an old dog.

A trip I intended to last five days turned into a three-day dash to, through, and from Death Valley. Annie, my fourteen-year-old corgi, did not do well in the heat, which is why I cut the trip short. It was still an amazing get-out-to-see-my-country experience. Here’s the vlog.

And here’s the route.


Little Ol’ Lady in Pasadena

Pasadena is famous for the tiny cottages ‘grandfathered’ into the back of properties in neighborhoods reserved for single-family dwellings. My daughter and son-in-law do not have one of those cottages, which is why I visit in Ramsey. This time I upgraded from parking him on the street to shimmying my way up the driveway to park in the backyard. It was a tight squeeze, but worth it — quieter and a safer walk to my front door for my tiny grandsons.

Camping near the Russian River

I just posted this video on YouTube about a loop I took from my home in San Rafael to the Russian River. After a night near Guerneville, I drove about 15 minutes to Jenner on the coast at the mouth of the river. Then I headed south along the cliffs to Bodega Bay, then home. I’ve included a 24¢ tour of my rig. The good news about traveling in January is that there is room in the campgrounds. The bad news is the mud, as you shall see.


Along the Path of Totality — Culver, Oregon


Ramsey on Brian Hebb’s Field, Culver, Oregon.

It was handy having an RV with solar panels on August 21, 2017 — the date of the Solar Eclipse. People in the small towns of Oregon along the Path of Totality were offering places for people like me to camp only if we could dry camp i.e. boondock i.e. camp without hooking up to water, electricity, and/or a sewer.

A friend of mine wanted to meet her boyfriend in Oregon along the Path of Totality. He was headed to Oregon from Idaho. After some worrying research, during which we found most campgrounds along the Path full or extremely expensive ($750 and up for three nights), we found Brian Hebb’s field in Culver, Oregon, only 9 miles south of Madras off Highway 97 ($255). Whereas the full eclipse was expected to last 2 min 2 seconds in Madras in the center of the Path, it would last 1 min 53 seconds in Culver — a difference we would not notice at all.

So, we packed Ramsey up for 5 days. Since my friend is a vegan, we needed two sets of food. Her small dog ChaCho, 20± years old, required a special homemade stew, which needed most of Ramsey’s tiny freezer. Considering he was deaf and blind, he was good company for my corgi, Annie, and very affectionate.



Whereas Madras turned out to be crowded and expensive, Culver was a delightful tiny town and wonderfully peaceful. I was amazed at how friendly and accommodating the locals were, and surprised to meet many townies who had grown up there and never wanted to leave.

We were among the first to arrive and had Brian Hebb’s field all to ourselves. The field had been in Brian’s family for years. When the city lot closer to the hills filled up, City Hall asked Brian if he would temporarily convert his hay field into an RV lot for the big event. The town is on the right, the park down on the left. That is the full extent of Culver.


Culver happened to be having its annual CrawDad Festival that very weekend. Saturday I attended the parade, which started at 10:00 am, followed by the festival in their not-so-central park. I can’t show my photos of the parade of vintage cars, the local sherif, the local fire truck, and the local ambulance, because there were children lining the street and, legally, I can’t show photos of children without their parents’ permission. As the cars passed, the drivers and passengers threw out candy for the kids, who had come armed with bags to collect the candy, just like for an Easter hunt. The scene warmed my heart. I loved it that the children knew and admired there law enforcement people.

The festival consisted of booths in the park selling local crafts such as woodworking, photography, jewelry, crocheted baby blankets, and hand batiked baby clothes.


The line for the crawdads, harvested from the near-by man-made Billy Chinook Lake, extended from the booth where they were served at one end of the park to the other end of the park. It remained that long until about 3:00 that afternoon and the food ran out.



I passed on the crawdads. I wasn’t very hungry. It was too hot. I purchased an ice cream cone instead and slurped it while listening to the country band.


Meanwhile, kids, and a few campers needing a shower, cooled themselves off in the Culver fountain.


My friend’s boyfriend and his terrier, Clayton, met up with us on Sunday morning. The two vans created a mini courtyard in the field. That evening, we hung out in the Culver’s one and only bar, drank some beers, and listened to the town chatter about the eclipse due the next morning.


I didn’t take a video of the eclipse itself. You can see better images of that anywhere on the internet. What I did was take photos of the hills (to my left as I took the photo of the RVs above) to show the change in light. It also got so cold that I put on my fleece jacket.


By 10:19 am it was noticeably darker.


At 10:20 am, the light went out. Everyone around us cheered. I wish I could have photographed the festive moment the sun appeared again. There was a burst of light.


A minute later, at 10:21 am, it looked like this.


10:26 am


10:30 am. I took this photo of the cars and RVs that were already leaving by 10:30, even though the eclipse had another hour to go. Some people really wanted to avoid the crowded roads.


10:38 am. My friend Marie kept watching.


10:38 am. Her boyfriend Russell kept watching.


At 11:41 am, the last little nub of moon covering the sun disappeared, ending the eclipse. Marie and Russell left about a half hour or so later, headed for Crater Lake. I stuck around for the rest of the day. I planned to wait a day to drive home and I wanted to visit the nearby Balancing Rocks, which I will tell you about in the next post.