Tom and I accepted volunteer positions in Death Valley last year. Our first day of work was January 14, so we set our arrival date as January 11. It takes close to four hours to travel from Las Vegas, the nearest big city, to where we are stationed in Death Valley.
Most people who come to Death Valley go to the Visitor Center at Furnace Creek. They check out the below-sea-level Badwater area and maybe travel as far north as the sand dunes. The place we are stationed is another hour north of Furnace Creek. We will be Interpretive Guides at Scotty’s Castle, a mansion built in the northernmost reaches of Death Valley, for three months.
While we are working at Scotty’s Castle, we will be staying at a compound three miles away. The Castle and campground are in Grapevine Canyon at an elevation of 3,000 feet. When most people think of Death Valley, they think of the hot temperatures – records set at Furnace Creek. When we were here in July 2006, it was 126 degrees in the shade! Grapevine Canyon never gets as hot as Furnace Creek because of the elevation difference.
We had a choice of staying in the employee compound of Cow Creek and commuting an hour each direction or staying in Grapevine Canyon just three miles from Scotty’s Castle. We chose Grapevine Canyon which has nine people in the compound. Five of them are living in a small apartment building and the other four of us are living in two RVs. The trade-off of living closer and in a smaller community (benefits to us) is that we have NO cell phone signal and thus NO internet. None. Really. The cell phone says “No Service” all the time.
It is really funny to us how people respond to this. We had to call Dish Network while we were still in Las Vegas so they would switch our local stations to California. I explained to the woman I talked to that we would not have any cell service or internet when we got to Death Valley. She switched our local stations (or so she said) and then told me if I had any trouble, I could just call. When I explained that I was calling then because I wouldn’t be able to call from Death Valley, she told me “Well, if you can’t call, just get on our website and we can take care of it.”
Tom and I are pretty connected. We use our cell phones and the internet a lot. So it will be interesting to see how we respond to this lack of internet. Can two adults survive for three months in Death Valley without any cell service or internet in their home? Stay tuned to find out!