Frank's adventure in Death Valley

I had a grand adventure with my big brother last weekend. We “walked through the valley of the shadow of DEATH”. Actually it was just Death Valley National Park.

I flew down to Veges Saturday morning and Chris met me in his camper. We drove the 90 minutes to the park and got to Badwater in the heat of the afternoon. That’s the lowest point below sea level in North America and the hottest spot on earth. It was 108 when we got there. But it once recorded 134 degrees. The highest confirmed temperature ever recorded. We camped out three nights on the rim of the valley which was cooler. In fact, every morning it dipped down into the 50’s. Last year’s camping trip with my brother, I slept in the upper bunk of his pop-up VW camper. It was a bit claustrophobic. So this time he brought a pop-up pup tent. I brought my air mattress and sleeping bag and the first two nights were comfy cozy. We visited the volcanic craters and the Borax mines. We reminisced about our memories of the old TV show, “Twenty Mule Team Borax” hosted by future president, Ronald Regan. Chris could still hum the opening tune for the show. We planned this “brothers time” to talk about the mission to Rwanda in July. We will be returning after a three-year-COVID hiatus. We’re planning a pastors’ and university students’ conference on “Dare to Be a Daniel”. As Christianity becomes more and more disfavored by our culture, the need is growing for the courage of Daniel in exile in the kings court. In East Africa, Islamic persecution and killing of Christians is very real. We talked and prayed about how best to minister these concepts in an African context.

Monday I got emails from Lelia about 5 inches of snow in Vancouver. Weird. But we weren’t cold. At least not yet. The third day was real windy. That last night was brutal. There was a steady 50 mph wind from the west as we struggled to set up the tent. Chris used half a dozen ropes to tie the tent down so it wouldn’t blow away. Then Hobo Chris cooked up his best Raman noodles for supper.

I got to bed early and the wind died down enough for me to get to sleep. Then about 10:30 the gale kicked up again. This time from the northeast. My tent was dancing! The ropes were tied to hold the tent against the west wind. I had to keep the window flaps zipped down to let the wind through. Otherwise the tent would have been completely flattened. Even so, the front of the tent leaned down about three feet from my face. The triangular windows were like two black jack-a-lantern eyes. The two flaps broke free from their ties and flapped and snapped like leering tongues a foot from my face. And the temperature kept dropping and dropping. It got down into the 50’s and window leaning down on me were like two giant fans on high blowing through my sleeping bag. So, I got a second light sleep bag from Chris, put on four layers of clothes and managed to get warm enough to get about 6 hours sleep over the 11-hour night. The wind did die down after a couple hours. Chris called the camp owner later and found out that that night the 60 mph winds were a record for the site. Lucky me! But it was worth it, because my big brother complimented me the next day by calling me a “brave man”. That’s was a first. There’s a thin line between brave and stupid.

The next morning was calmer, and we packed up and drove to “Ma’s Diner”, a landmark in Pahrump Nevada. It was a comforting taste of old West Americana. We had some extra time, so we drove to Veges and walked the Strip. After all the natural beauty of the Valley, the contrast with the Fake Beauty of Sin City was breath-taking. They had a fake pyramid, a fake castle, and a fake Statue of Liberty. And imitation entertainers. They’re way past fake Elvis’s. Now there are fake Michael Jacksons, fake Bee Gees, fake Princes, fake Lady Gagas, fake Marilyn Monroes, etc, etc. I enjoy natural beauty much more. Hobo Chris reserved us three camp sites with no shower facilities. My plane was delayed, Lelia picked me up, and got me home at 11. It was a very long shower before bed. A short night and back to work the next day. It was a stretch for a four-day week-end but well worth it.