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DATES AND DEATH VALLEY — PART I

November 17, 2011 by Barry & Monique Zander · 13 Comments  
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By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander*, the Never-Bored RVers

This is a two-part blog, beginning with our off-the-beaten path near Tecopa, California, in Death Valley (a mere 85 miles west of Las Vegas) to the China Ranch Date Farm in an oasis among America’s most arid tract of land.  I’ll post Part 2 in a couple of days, describing our return to the Death Valley 49ers Encampment, and I conclude with a golf tale, which I call “Why I’m glad I four-putted the 18th green.”

1-Old Truck 9779PART 1, THE DATE FARM – For those of you who have never experienced the nothingness of the vast Western deserts, trekking across broad sandy basins lined with jagged mountains holds more interest than you might realize.  Last year we drove and hiked through several unique scenic venues, including the beautiful Artists Palette trail, the Devil’s Golf Course and the lowest point in North America.

This year, we pulled out a day early from among the long lines of RVs parked at Furnace Creek for the 49ers Encampment heading for the legendary China Ranch date farm.  It was harvest time, the perfect time to visit.  “What have we gotten

Is this really a road?

Is this really a road?

ourselves into?” we wondered as we left the blacktop side road and urged our trailer onto a winding dirt road cut through steep cliffs and serrated hills.  Despite sharp turns on the narrow road, it looked worse than it was.

Before long the labyrinth wound past acres of palm trees all dressed in the apparel of ghosts, white-robed spirits hanging beneath palm fronds.  Why, we wondered, but not for long.  While traipsing on foot through the

Ranch Owner Brian Brown Harvests the Crop

Ranch Owner Brian Brown Harvests the Crop

rows of palms, we happened upon Brian Brown, owner of the orchard, who was just packing up the last hampers of dates after a long day of harvesting by hand.

Ghosts in the Orchard

Ghosts in the Orchard

He explained that the “ghosts” we were surrounded by were actually bunches of the precious dates draped in sheets to protect them from ravenous birds.  Interestingly, he said that most of the fabric used at China Ranch is from worn-out or ripped sheets donated by inns.

For us, the Never-Bored RVers, experiencing the date farm is one of the things we love most about our RV lifestyle.  I’m not into statistics, but I found it fascinating to learn that China Ranch grows and sells 15 different varieties of dates.  The sales are brisk in the gift shop and online, naturally.

We loaded up with dates, cookies and one date float, the specialty of the house.

Virginia Langford Whips up a Date Shake

Virginia Langford Whips up a Date Shake

These are delicious transitorial memories of our visit.  We were in the orchards, in the packing and shipping areas and walking through historical areas of the property.  What’s most satisfying is that we took the time to see what was on the other side of the hills, to expand our horizons just a bit more.

Check back in a few days for Part 2, the Death Valley 49ers Encampment.

*Any errors in this article are mine.  Monique is minding our cabin this week while I travel via Amtrak to see my new granddaughter in Louisiana.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

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Last 5 posts by Barry & Monique Zander


Comments

13 Responses to “DATES AND DEATH VALLEY — PART I”

  1. butterbean carpenter on November 18th, 2011 6:17 pm

    Howdy Barry,

    WHAT?? YOU LEFT MONIQUE ON THAT SNOW COVERED MOUNTAIN?? Did you
    chop enuff farwood to last a week before you left???? You may get back home and
    she’s gone to Toronto (less snow there)!!!!!!!!

    A new granddaughter is no reason to run away from chopping wood, but I bet she’s pretty as a speckled pup under a brand new wagon; just like mine is!! Of course mine is now a Tech Sgt in the USAF reserve!!! But she’s still a knockout!!! Black-
    belt, so, she CAN knock’em out!! Call if you do what I suggested!!!

  2. Thomas Becher on November 19th, 2011 7:25 am

    At Martha’s Garden in Yuma AZ they told us that the bags covering the dates also (1) kept the dates from falling to the ground. (all about profit and loss) and (2) Keeps the wind blown dirt off the fruit. (you know how sticky dates are). For all you out there that haven”t tried a Date Shake, Try them. They are delicious.

  3. Ron Butler on November 20th, 2011 8:23 pm

    I’m assuming that your article is about this fall’s harvest, correct? How long does harvest last? We haven’t made the trek to Death Valley, but want too. Is the date ranch in or just outside of DV? Which direction? That’s for the information.

  4. Mark Lawrence - SpotHero Parking on December 5th, 2011 3:28 am

    Ha, I found this looking for parking blogs. Pic of the RV is this really a road picture made me smile

  5. DATES AND DEATH VALLEY — PART I | Skedaddel on April 9th, 2012 10:09 am

    [...] Date Farm in an oasis among America’s most arid tract of land.  I’ll post Part 2 in a [...] RV Camping Blog » Geocaching DATES, DEATH, Part, [...]

  6. DATES AND DEATH VALLEY — PART IKampvuur Blog | Kampvuur Blog on April 15th, 2012 2:58 pm

    [...] RV Camping Blog » Geocaching This entry was posted in Camping and tagged DATES, DEATH, PART, VALLEY. Bookmark the permalink. ← SOUTH COAST [...]

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